Today’s guest, Nancy Davis Kho, is unapologetic about her obsession with music and concerts as an adult. Midlife Mixtape is where she shares it all: music, motherhood, modern life, and memories. Nancy’s taste in music is eclectic and often edgy. It’s a great place to hang out and find a new favorite tune. Nancy is the perfect person to be the first guest writer to write a post for Song of the Week.
The other day on Facebook I noticed a 40-something friend of mine was requesting suggestions from friends for her new summer playlist. I dove into the responses to make sure that the song title I wanted to contribute wasn’t already taken, and hoping to pick up a few new tunes for Summer 2012.
THAT wouldn’t be a problem. Every song suggestion listed had been released prior to the first Bush presidency. Think songs from the movie Grease, by Bob Marley, and tunes that you can dance to with your great uncle at family weddings. Good songs all but, I found myself thinking, really? Isn’t part of the fun of a summer playlist the challenge of identifying the anthem that everyone will be humming by July 30 and then completely sick of by August 30? Or at least of hearing something that you haven’t heard 642,390 times before?
I guess my real complaint is the perception that middle age equates to musical obsolescence. It’s bad enough that’s what high schoolers think of us; must we buy into it ourselves? A reader of my blog once suggested I run a giveaway with a bumpersticker he’d seen: “I Was Young When All The Good Music Was Written.” My answer to him was a hearty “Hell no!” Of course there was good music written while we were young, and I still listen to it all the time.
But there is equally good music being written today, by artists just as passionate and creative as the ones who formed our youthful tastes. Plugging your ears to the new stuff won’t kill you, but you’ll also never know that your favorite song of all time just came out by an indie alt-country band from Georgia.
I know it’s overwhelming to stay up to date with new music at a time in your life when you are also trying to stay up with mortgage payments, work deadlines, Little League snack duties, and 401(k)s on life support. But it doesn’t have to take the dedication we gave it in our teens, either. I rely on shortcuts including but not limited to: giving my best friend’s 18 year old son iTunes gift cards with the request that he make me a mix CD of his favorite new stuff once in a while, an occasional glance at Billboard’sAlternative Songs chart, services like Spotify and Pandora while I’m cooking dinner. I am a shameless Shazamer, holding my smartphone overhead like I’m a European tour guide when I hear a good song come on over a store’s stereo system.
The payoff? I still get that thrill once in a while, the one I had the first time I heard “History Never Repeats” by Split Enz, or “When Doves Cry” by Prince, or “Mandinka” by Sinead O’Connor. It’s a full-body jolt of recognition that this is a song I’ll never forget. On a day when I’m mostly consumed with driving small ballerinas back and forth to class, punctuated only by stops at the dry cleaners, veterinarian, and grocery store, that’s worth something.
So here’s a song that made me sit up and listen the first time I heard it back in June, and the one that I suggested to my friend for her playlist. It’s by a band called Icona Pop, a Swedish electropop duo that couldn’t be more fresh and dewy if they tried. The song is a perfect summer hit, with its thumping bass and a chorus that begs to be shouted while pogoing on a dance floor. Yes, I’m old enough to be mother to Aino or Caroline. And you know what? I Don’t Care – I Love It.
Nancy Davis Kho is a freelance writer whose work has appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle, Hippocampus Magazine, Bitch, Salon.com, and Whole Life Times. She blogs about the years between being hip and breaking one at Midlife Mixtape and is also the Music Barista at Give Me Air, queuing up new music videos to provide a virtual blast of creativity for your day. She’s getting ready to attend her first ever heavy metal rock concert at 46 and vascillating between terror and excitement at the prospect.