My Music Through the Decades

Luc is really good at creating playlists. So much so, that when there’s a party in the neighbourhood, he’s often asked (or volunteers) to prepare the music for the festivities.

Three years ago, when I turned 40, Luc made the most amazing playlist for my party.

He spent weeks going through our records, CDs and iTunes library, tracking my taste in music through the four decades of my life. What we already had, he compiled. What we didn’t, he downloaded. He then presented me with a monster list, and asked me to narrow down the selections to between 2 and 5 of my ultimate favourite songs per year (yes, PER YEAR!)  from 1970 to 2010. This became the official 9-hour playlist for the party.

This has to be one of the most thoughtful gifts I have ever received (and I’m not even sure he realized it was a gift…for him it was just part of the party preparations). Three years later, it’s still my go-to playlist when I’m at home alone, cleaning the house or feeling nostalgic.

And how cool is it to be able to see (well, hear, actually!) in one place how my taste in music has evolved over time. Here’s a little breakdown:

The 1970s

Some of my favourites from the 70s are thanks to my parents’ taste in music (since I was a kid and subject to their influence). My mom would turn on London’s CFPL every morning on our kitchen radio and it would stay on until suppertime. Looking back, I guess that station played the “popular” music of the day: the Eagles, ABBA, the Bee Gees, Rod Stewart, Neil Diamond, Carly Simon.

But there are other 70s songs that I don’t remember hearing as a child, but came to appreciate later in life, like Your Song by Elton John (which was the first song Luc and I danced to at our wedding), Meatloaf’s Bat Out of Hell album (which always makes me think of my mom), and anything by the Ramones (whose early music I didn’t discover until my cousin Steve introduced me to them as a teen).

The 1980s

Quick! Give me a line from an 80s pop song! Not only will I tell you the title, I’ll tell you who recorded it, what album it was on, what year it was released and how high it went on the charts. Yes, I’m an 80s pop music queen. By the time I was a preteen, I had switched from my mom’s CFPL to either 1410 CKSL or 1290 CJBK, which were both all Top 40 all the time and so close on the dial (yes, the DIAL), that if one wasn’t playing a song I liked, I could quickly spin to the other.

Every day I listened to the Top 8 at 8, every week I listened to the Weekly Top 10, and every year I’d sit with the December 31st edition of The London Free Press and follow along during the year’s Top 100 Weekend, trying to estimate when my favourites would play and taping them off the radio. (Remember taping off the radio? Pause/Record/Play. And oh so frustrating when the songs overlapped, the announcer’s voice came on before the music was over, or you mistakenly taped over something you loved!)

The 1990s

OK, here’s where things get a little iffy. The 90s are not a decade that I’m particularly proud of, musically speaking. But let’s put it in context a little, shall we? I was young and independent and studied at three different universities in seven years. I was a hopeless romantic. And I spent much of my spare time in dance bars. This does not make for the most cultured of musical tastes (not that the 80s were cultured, but at least they were consistent).

So while my 90s faves include an appreciation for French artists like Francis Cabrel, they also include the likes of Blue Rodeo, The Black Crowes, Green Day, Dave Matthews Band and Great Big Sea.

Oh yeah, and dance hits like Pump Up the Jam that I may or may not have danced to on a speaker in a club.

And an unfortunate Michael Bolton phase.

Let us never speak of this again.

The Early 2000s

During the first decade of the 21st century, a strange thing happened. I had two kids. But that’s not the strange part. From almost the moment I conceived in 2002 until just a few years ago, I really didn’t want to listen to music at all. For some reason, I became hyper-sensitive to noise when I was pregnant and afterwards. A fan whirring, blinds rattling, Luc breathing, and yes, even music playing drove me NUTS! Suffice it to say that not a lot of music was played in our house for several years. And my radio in the van became permanently set to CBC Radio 2, which plays classical music all morning and jazz most evenings.

For the most part this hormonal quirk is gone, although I still can’t have any noise around me when I’m trying to concentrate (I’ve been known to shriek at the kids, “Will you both just be QUIET and let me THINK!!!”). And we do have music in the house again (although every once in a while a particularly screechy guitar solo can send me off the deep end).

2010 and Beyond

Because I listen to my 1970-2010 playlist so often, the kids recognize and can sing along with a lot of the songs. Just like I grew up listening to my mom’s music on CFPL, they’re listening to mine.

And just as I went down my own musical path in the 80s, they’re now asking to download new music they’ve heard and like from iTunes for their own playlists (yes, it’s worlds away from taping off the radio, but the same in theory).

I find it fascinating to witness the same sort of musical evolution that I went through over 40 years now starting in my kids.

And while we all have our distinctive phases and favourites (the good, the bad and the questionable), sharing music–in whatever form–is always a gift.

Check out how Luc’s musical tastes have evolved over the years.