Monday, June 12, 2006

What Lurks in My CD Collection

I was just browsing through some of the celebrity playlists on iTunes. Anderson Cooper apparently enjoys nineties alternative (Smashing Pumpkins, the Pogues, old-school REM) with a dash of hipster eighties (the Clash, New Order) and just enough out-there stuff to look charmingly eclectic.

Bo Bice's list is, unsurprisingly, filled with no-nonsense rock and Seattle grunge from the likes of Pantera, Alice in Chains, Pearl Jam, and Black Sabbath.

Pink's includes exactly what you'd expect from her--Indigo Girls, Mazzy Star, Liz Phair, 4 Non Blondes, Ani DiFranco, Janis Joplin. All cutting edge, angry (or at least, opinionated) female rock/folk stars--interspersed with the funky yet tasteful likes of Donny Hathaway and Bob Marley.

Assuming that these celebrities actually make their own playlists, rather than having some lackey with a Blackberry do it for them, how much thought goes into them? Do they (or their Blackberry-toting lackeys) carefully craft these lists to project a desired image, rather than reflecting their actual tastes? Do most people do that when asked to make a list of their favorite music?

I know that whenever I've talked about my musical tastes in public, I tend to mention only the hip, the esoteric, and the critically lauded from my collection, so I'm not pointing fingers, here.

But what about those embarrassingly awful music choices we all hate to love, the ones that lurk underneath the seats of our cars or hide in a file marked "utilities" on our hard drive? When is someone going to publicly own up to loving Ratt's "Round and Round," or regularly grooving out to Andy Gibb's "Shadow Dancing?" When will it be OK to wear one's love for Hanson's "MmmmBop" on one's sleeve, or even champion the genius of Weird Al Yankovic's "I Think I'm a Clone Now?"

Probably never, but in the spirit of no musical shame, I'm revealing the top five most embarrassing elements of my music collection. Enjoy....

1) Half-Breed, by Cher. I have this scar on my forehead from a tragic accident that occurred when I was four years old: One of my favorite songs at the time--my parents had it on a 45--was "Half-Breed," a melancholy little piece that talks about how difficult life was for Cher because she was only half Cherokee--"the Indians said I was white by law/ the white man always called me Indian squaw." Being half Honduran, half white, I could relate. Oh, how I could relate.

So one day, feeling rather out of sorts and misunderstood by all, I climbed up on the kitchen table and belted out "Half-Breed" at the top of my little, four-year-old lungs. I actually don't remember the incident all that well, but apparently I got a bit overzealous on a high note, fell over, and hit my head on one of those coil radiators that are common in old Victorian homes, of which we lived in at the time. It was the one and only time I've ever had to have stitches. Such is my love for Cher.

I now have the Half-Breed album on CD, which includes my other old-school Cher favorite, "Dark Lady," which tells the story of a conniving fortune teller. You may not laugh. Cher is treated with the utmost seriousness and respect in my household.

2) A mix of Neil Diamond. I think there is possibly nothing more square on this Earth than admitting a love for Neil Diamond. Those hand claps! The trombone fanfares! That chest hair! But there it is. I love Neil Diamond.

Actually, I love SOME Neil Diamond. "Cherry, Cherry"; "Sweet Caroline"; "Brother Love Travelin' Salvation Show"; "Holly Holy"; "Cracklin' Rosie".... Even "Forever in Blue Jeans" isn't bad as far as guilty pleasures go.

And there's nothing better for healing a broken heart than getting together with your best girlfriends, getting stupidly drunk, and shrieking "Love on the Rocks" in it's entirety into your hairbrush as you expunge all traces of the offending ex from your apartment.


But then there's bizarro Neil, who turned his back on his so-dorky-it's-cool roots and inflicted such aural travesties on us as "Girl, You'll Be a Woman Soon" (there's no way to say that and not sound like a condescending putz) and the totally craptacular "Heartlight." (Why, Neil, WHY?)

God bless iTunes, because I have a most excellent Neil Diamond mix I made myself, completely free of any and all opuses "inspired by ET."

3) The Living Sea, soundtrack from the IMAX movie, by Sting. Though I sometimes fear that Sting is going to be my daughters' generation's Barry Manilow, I personally think he's a bloody genius and am not ashamed to admit that I own every one of his CDs. (Nor that I'll never stop wishing for a Police reunification, because really, was there ever a better band?) I'm not at all embarrassed of my love for Sting, with the possible exception of this CD--a remix of several Sting classics with aquarium-type music and sound effects, oboe interludes, and even some whale language, if I'm not mistaken. Interspersed throughout are a few original Sting arrangements, written to complement the 3-D underwater adventure The Living Sea was. Yeah, this CD is completely uncool, but I love it all the same. It's most excellent music to write by. Although I will warn you, the soothing, dulcet synthesizer stylings of many of the arrangements might induce a narcoleptic fit if you're not careful, so make sure you're working on or near a soft surface.

I'm listening to it right now, as a matter of fact. "Fragile" is up now, reworked for the oboe and a stirring group of violins.

4) Beyond Imagination, by the OperaBabes. I'm sure there is nothing more heinous to a true classical music aficionado than a collection of popular classical selections re-arranged with New Age instrumentals. Enter the OperaBabes, a pair of women who sing everything from "O Fortuna" (from Carl Orff's Carmina Burana and also, I believe, the film version of Conan the Barbarian and Jackass: the Movie) to Beethoven's "Ode to Joy" to Schubert's "Ave Maria." Most selections are accompanied by a electronic drum track, more soaring violins, and just about every setting available on the modern synthesizer. Go ahead. Throw things at me and call me a philistine. It's ok.

What can I say? I thought it was kind of pretty.

5) The Titanic soundtrack. WHAT THE HELL? I didn't even know this was in my collection until I started looking through it. I mean, WHO would want to inflict that Celine Dion song on themselves MORE than the radio stations did back in the day.

My brother Tommy probably left this at my house. Because I sure didn't buy it. Now that's one I'd actually be embarrassed by.

What about you? What's lurking in your music collection?


The Queen-a Athena said...

LOL, Tracy!

My kids are highly distressed by the huge proportion of my CD collection that is taken up by the Grass Roots, but too bad for them. The ones that most embarass moi would be:
1. the double CD collection of John Denver's Greatest Hits
2. the nonstop disco workout cd
3. and the ultimate - the greatest hits of the Bay City Rollers.

However, this can also work for fun. I take great pleasure in shelving the Dixie Chicks right beside Toby Keith, then waiting to see if they combination burns the house down around me.

Tracy Montoya said...

I have a disco CD, too. I think it's called Pure Funk. : D And I used to LOVE the Bay City Rollers when they had their own Saturday morning TV special back in the 70s!

Hilarious about the Dixie Chicks and Toby Keith. Go, Chicks!

Mariann said...

Um... I've got a CD called the Kids from FAME, with a dozen or so songs from the television series. Totally loved this when I was thirteen.

Tracy Montoya said...

I LOVED that show, Mariann. Didn't realize there was a CD. The only song I remember is the theme song, which I loved and nearly killed myself trying to do the air splits to when I was a kid.

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Tracy Montoya writes romantic suspense for Harlequin Intrigue.

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