Music, Movies, and Machines

Thursday, December 25, 2008 - Monday, August 20, 2012 


The name of Music, Movies, and Machines comes from a very simple fact: during this era, I began to discover music separately from what I was directly exposed to by parental guidance, watch films that contained music I had never heard before, and I had computers and game consoles enter my life that reshaped my daily habits.

Segmenting The First Few Years was difficult as my lifestyle generally remained unchanged throughout that entire period, but that is not true for Music, Movies, and Machines, which has two distinct periods. 

Notable Songs

I first watched Labyrinth with my parents in early 2009. In retrospect, I realize that moment was the beginning of a transition from one musical era to another. My song knowledge had, up until this point, been mostly confined to 1960 to 1982. My grandparents had been the primary drivers of my musical development, and they didn't go very far into the 1980s. Although the majority of my father's music tastes were concentrated in the 1970s, he did go much further into the 1980s than they did.

Labyrinth signified one major turning point for me: David Bowie had entered my musical repertoire. For Christmas in 2008, I had received a third-gen iPod nano, which took on an expanded role in 2009. While I was in the living room, my family were watching The Frighteners. I shouldn't have been in the room at the time, because a specific scene scared me and gave me nightmares for quite some time. For several months, I would fall asleep with my iPod playing Bowie songs.

My grandmother often goes into her bedroom to watch a movie when my grandfather and father are watching something (usually sports) in the living room. I'd often join her in those days, and on several occasions, I caught the ending sequence of Dirty Dancing, and the soundtrack, which my mother had a copy of, joined my MP3 player library shortly thereafter. While I haven't seen the whole thing from start to finish, the soundtrack is top-notch. The timing was also interesting, considering that Patrick Swayze died later in 2009.

In early 2009, while I was with my grandmother watching movies and videos, she played the music videos for Thriller, Beat It, and Billie Jean. I had a moderate interest in them at the time. Soon afterwards, Michael Jackson died, setting off a global resurgence of interest in his music. It's no understatement to say that this is when any remnants of The First Few Years finally died, as Thriller immediately replaced Y.M.C.A. as my favorite song. We watched The Making of Thriller soon thereafter as well.

Michael Jackson dominated my musical tastes for well over a year. When I received a Nintendo DSi for Christmas in 2009, Thriller was placed onto the SD card for me to play using the Music app. I distinctly remember that one evening in 2010, I was sitting in the car in the Wal-Mart parking lot with my father, waiting for my mother to return. I had my DSi with me, and I promptly listened to this song while in the app. I had the lightning striking the tree animation up as I did.

In late 2011, my interests shifted to a new subject: computers. More specifically, my obsession was with Windows XP. When I learned that we had an old eMachine from 2003 sitting in the shed, I demanded it be brought in. We'd thought the system had died, but when it was brought inside in January 2012, it booted right up. Good Times was one of four songs it had when I opened Windows Media Player. I gave it a listen, and it would begin a new period of musical exploration for me.

As one of the four eMachine songs, in Georgy Girl I found something I hadn't really run into before: an earworm. I couldn't get this song out of my head for months afterwards. To make matters worse, my father had found the music video and would often watch it, meaning that even leaving the room couldn't guarantee I could get away from it. It wasn't too bad of an issue, however. After all, I did really like the song. I doubt I would've found it as catchy if I didn't like it as much as I did.

I've always had a fascination for the rain. Even as a small child, I would often sit at the door and just gaze out the window as it came down. Unsurprisingly, a song like this appealed to me. As one of the four eMachine tracks, I played it rather often, and as it was a song my father really liked when he was very small (it came out when he was three), it became a mainstay of both of our listening habits when he rediscovered it because of me.

From as early as 2007, the Bee Gees had been present in some form in my life. However, their Number Ones compilation was scanned into both the eMachine and my DSi. Massachusetts fairly quickly became a favorite song of mine. Throughout the spring and summer of 2012, they became one of the three major artists that were driving my musical catalogue. I distinctly remember that I'd often sit in the living room, up late with my mother, playing Bee Gees tracks.

In the summer of 2012, I often found myself at the eMachine with Windows Media Player pulled up, listening to Bee Gees songs as I did other things. As I would typically start listening from How Deep Is Your Love, the tenth track on the playlist, Too Much Heaven would always show up a few minutes later. One day, I was sitting and listening to that song, watching the Media Player animation that would play, while I was snacking on cheese puffs and dreaming up my next computer contraption.

At the end of 2011, my parents joined millions of others in killing the satellite TV service. We began to primarily watch stuff from YouTube and other services, and one day, my parents were watching old music videos they hadn't seen in many years. I joined in, and one of the videos was Like A Virgin. I quite liked the song, and my mother had The Immaculate Collection, which promptly joined my Media Player library. Madonna joined the Bee Gees in defining my music tastes during the summer of 2012.

One of my grand aunts was a concert pianist, and in her retirement, she travels. Upon returning from Scotland in 2012, she brought back something for me: a copy of Nessie the Loch Ness Monster by Richard Brassey, a kids' book about the famed cryptid. As I played Rock On: 1975 in the background on the eMachine one day, I began to read that book. This song came on as I did. To this day, Sad Sweet Dreamer is the first thing that comes to mind when I hear about the Loch Ness Monster in any capacity.

As I had grown more attached to using the eMachine, I stopped staying the night at my grandparents' house on the weekends as a regular occasion. One day in the summer of 2012, I brought the eMachine with me, as there was a monitor in the spare room. While I was over there, I took the time to add to the media player library many discs she had that I didn't have at home. One of these was Because, a British Invasion song. I immediately fell in love with it, which set off the spark that would later bring the Beatles into my life.

The work of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons had been with me since I was very small, but I didn't listen to them very often. That changed in the summer of 2012. While Big Girls Don't Cry was my favorite, I associate that very strongly with a 2006 The First Few Years memory. I mentally tied Secret Love to the girl I liked at the time, and I distinctly remember sitting in the spare room as I played it. While I had made a connection between an earlier crush and a song in 2008, I hadn't directly tied a song to a girl until this moment.

One thing that became commonplace in 2012 was that I'd join my father in the living room in the evenings. My mother had started working the late shift, meaning the two of us would often watch stuff on YouTube. Music was one of those things, and he introduced me to several more songs I'd never heard before. Boogie Nights was one of the first he showed me, and it remains a favorite of mine to this day.

While the malt shop songs of the 1950s had been in my life for many years, I'd never paid them too much attention before 2012. I spent most of my time exploring the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s that I hadn't given the 1950s the time they deserved. That changed when I discovered Silhouettes. For the next several months, I began to listen to a significant amount of music from the 1950s, and by the summer of 2013, I had a pretty good catalogue of songs from that era.