Here at Pivot, we’ve been feeling a bit nostalgic. Because the music we listen to during our youth holds a disproportionate amount of power over our emotions, our minds easily think of the past when we hear a song from our formative years. We remember fiddling with the radio during long car rides and how claustrophobic our bedrooms looked after we wallpapered them with 500 posters of the Backstreet Boys. That’s the thing about “musical nostalgia” — it’s hard to fight. No matter how our tastes change over the years, our memories can replay those songs, and those moments of drama, growth, and self-discovery. For Pivoteers, these are some of the tracks we had on standard rotation when we were wee ones.
“You Can’t Hurry Love” by The Supremes
The sounds of Motown — especially those of Diana, Mary, and Florence — are the sounds of my summertime youth. That simple and infectious bass line. The rattle of the tambourine. The distant reverb of the guitar. A sprinkle of brassy horns mellowed by silky background vocals. This track brings me back to road trips to my grandfather’s house, and arguing with my sisters about who got to be Diana Ross (me).
“Only Wanna Be With You” by Hootie and the Blowfish
I wouldn’t be a good 90s kid if I didn’t include some Hootie. The music video — Keith Olbermann on SportsCenter, the shootin’ of hoops with Alonzo Mourning, the hair, the hats — is everything that is right with the mid-90s.
“San Francisco Bay Blues” by Eric Clapton
There are few instruments a young child can play. A kazoo is one of them.
all of the songs by the Backstreet Boys
You were in one camp or the other. If you say you weren’t, you’re a big liar. #BSB4life
“(Everything I Do) I Do It For You” by Bryan Adams
I would belt this out from the backseat of my mom’s Buick on the way to kindergarten. And also last week. (And also pretty much always.)
“I Swear” by All-4-One
I don’t think there was a swimming pool in the Midwest that wasn’t playing this song between “Ironic” and “Smells Like Teen Spirit.” For some reason, it stuck with me and their album became one of the first ones I ever owned.
“The Sign” by Ace of Bass
The first song I truly loved. I sang it when it came on the radio. I sang it when it wasn’t on the radio. I purchased the single on cassette from a neighbor’s garage sale and must have flipped the tape in my Walkman about a thousand times. Couldn’t get enough of it.
“Say My Name” by Destiny’s Child
It’s still a favorite song — and favorite artist overall. My older sister and I absolutely, positively could NOT have the same taste in music. She got Christina Aguilera, I got Britney Spears. She got TLC, I got Destiny’s Child. I found my inner diva whenever I listed to this song.
“Pop” by *NSYNC
I always went back and forth between the Backstreet Boys and *NSYNC, but when this came out, I was officially sold. That, and I was in love with JC Chasez.
“Hey Driver” by Lucky Boy’s Confusion
I went through this little pop-punk phase (I’m so cool) in middle school. I used to come home from school, put on Commitment (in a Discman, of course) and play Mario Kart. Yeah, I was really cool.
“Caramel” by City High
I don’t even remember how I learned about this group, but my sister and I LOVED this song and “What Would You Do?”.
“Bicycle Race” by Queen
Growing up, my taste in music was influenced by my brother, who is eight years my senior. I remember his cassette player — a red one modeled after a 1957 Chevy Bel Air. It was on that Randix that I first heard Queen, and “Bicycle Race” became a favorite for four-year-old me, a child who hadn’t yet shed her training wheels.
“Tubthumping” by Chumbawamba
As my brother and I got older, I often inherited his hand-me-down music, including mix tapes featuring “Tubthumping” and “Walkin’ On The Sun.” (Other “heirlooms” included CDs impressively titled Ultimate Dance Party 1998.)
“Men in Black” by Will Smith
I had black jeans, black shoes, black sunglasses, and a black jacket. I was a galaxy defender, damn it.
anything and everything by the Backstreet Boys
A.J. McLean was my favorite, and I had a poster of him. On the ceiling. Above my bed.
“Welcome to Paradise” by Green Day
I wore out two copies of Dookie on cassette. You read that right — cassette. For me, this entire album was just the right thing at just the right time, but “Welcome to Paradise” was really where it was at.
“Come Out and Play” by The Offspring
I was never much of an Offspring fan, but I still listen to this song regularly. There’s nothing else that sounds quite like it.
“Tonight, Tonight” by The Smashing Pumpkins
If you don’t think this is one of the greatest songs of all time, that’s OK. Everyone is wrong sometimes. Plus, Wayne White art directed the video, so it gets even more points.
The first two CDs I bought to listen to on my Discman in fourth grade were Mariah Carey’s Daydream and Des’ree’s I Ain’t Movin’. I can’t count the times I played those discs on loop.
“Always Be My Baby” by Mariah Carey
“You Gotta Be” by Des’ree
Musical individuality was a strength during my tween years. I totally did not own a Backstreet Boys T-shirt and dog tags, and certainly did not own Spice World, the movie. If I did, I’m not sure how long Pivoteers would allow me to stay at Pivot. However, the Backstreet Boys were my first concert, and I did own all of those things. As the Spice Girls said, “if you want my future, forget my past.”
“Larger Than Life” by Backstreet Boys
“C’est la vie” by B*Witched
“Wannabe” by Spice Girls
Looking back, it appears that I may have had split music personalities.
In the presence of my parents and my Catholic school friends, I was all girl. The soundtrack of my melodramatic middle school years mostly consisted of moody girl jams, usually about the trials and tribs of young love and hate. Apparently, I had a fondness for the chicks with a bit of an edge, a stylish bandana, and some outward appearance of independence.
“Don’t Take It Personal (Just One of Dem Days)” by Monica
“Creep” by TLC
“Back & Forth” by Aaliyah
“Again” by Janet Jackson
When I was alone, however, or in the presence of less judgmental neighbors, cousins, and/or my Lebanon and Tri-West boyfriends, I was apparently more in tune with rap.
“Regulate” by Warren G and Nate Dogg
“Who Am I (What’s My Name)?” by Snoop Doggy Dogg
“You Make Me Wanna” by Usher
“Hay” by Crucial Conflict