My musical taste has always developed in a bubble, sealed off from whatever was stylish and popular among my peers. I first became conscious of this terminal uncoolness on one particular day in the fifth grade. Our teacher let us have the afternoon off for a pre-holiday party, and everyone was supposed to bring along some tunes. This posed a problem for me, as I owned none of my own. I loved music but I was ten years old and had no money to buy tapes or CDs. All I could listen to was the local radio station and whatever my father left lying around. He consumed music profligately, spending huge sums of money on rare imported albums, listening to them once or twice, and forgetting about them. This left me with a treasure trove of music way out of my age range for my personal listening pleasure. It was an outcome of this circumstance that I knew by heart the lyrics to Leonard Cohen and Ray Charles before I learned how to do long division. This fact didn’t endear me to my savvier peers, who worshipped Weird Al and the Spice Girls. Something told me my father’s castoff albums wouldn’t make the best soundtrack for a fifth-grade dance party, but I brought them anyway. I waited for a quiet moment to slip one of my cassettes into the tape player. Unfortunately, I had neglected to rewind it, and when I pressed play the tape picked up right in the middle of Elvis Presley’s “I Don’t Care If The Sun Don’t Shine.” All the fifth-graders shrieked in horror as Elvis belted out, “We’re-gonna-kiss-and-kiss-and-kiss-and-kiss-and-we’re-gonna-kiss-some-more.” I raced to switch it off, but it was too late. For the rest of the day (it felt like a year) I was shunned as the girl who ruined the whole party with the kissing song. I sat at my desk, sobbing silently into my sleeve, and my friend Dana put her arm around my shoulders. “Don’t worry,” she whispered comfortingly. “I don’t have any real music either, except for my old Barney tapes.” I would have traded my Charles Aznavour for her Barney any day. At least people knew how to pronounce his name. Close your eyes and imagine an earnest little girl with round glasses and messy braids, lying on the floor of her room with her ear pressed up against the speakers of her old-school boom box, listening to the following songs, and you’ll have a pretty accurate picture of what I was like growing up.
Elvis Presley - I Don’t Care If the Sun Don’t Shine (Mp3)
The Beatles - In My Life (Mp3)
Leonard Cohen - Dance Me to the End of Love (Mp3)
Charles Aznavour - La Bohème (Mp3)
Ray Charles - Georgia on My Mind (Mp3)
Yves Montand - À Bicyclette (Mp3)
Terry Jacks - Seasons in the Sun (Mp3)