Music Monday: NKOTB’s Life Lessons Pt.2

So in some regards, my stubbornness and ability to stick to my guns was…maybe not born from being a NKOTB fan, but that definitely helped. For better or worse, those hazings because of my fan status probably make it a little hard for me to get vocally into any fandom these days…I’m always a little afraid of talking to groups of fans, whether it be of a music group or a movie/fandom, because I’m well-aware of how some people can get, and I think we’ve all scene that I probably don’t need any more drama in my life on that front. I like what I like but I’m generally going to be quiet about it until I know how people are, that kind of thing.

Memories of those daily dramas showed up again when I was thirteen – by that time I’d moved on to other interests, but I’d kept my tapes and still listened to them now and again for nostalgia’s sake. And then when people found out…yep. Certain classes like gym and home ec took on whole other dimensions of hell…partially because of drama I created for myself (I was still learning how to navigate friendships, especially when friends liked me but didn’t like each other). By that time, though, I knew it wasn’t permanent. I was slowly discovering that you can keep walking through the damndest things if you can just hang on for a while.

More time passed, and through the years I…didn’t forget about that part of my life, but I think I put it away. The band seemed to be over, and I’d moved on (though it was great training for becoming a David Bowie fan in a small town).

So when news of the reunion tours started…I was apprehensive. I hoped it would go well. I wanted things to go well, because deep down I still loved the band. The only reason I really haven’t been to a show is because family things needed to be taken care of, health got in the way for a bit, and I just plain missed the boat, so to speak. I still have never been to a NKOTB show, which is a shame because I think it would be fun, and a good bookend to that early part of my life. But que sera and all that crud.

Anyway, as I’ve grown into adulthood, as I’ve tracked down the albums again…I’ve discovered something. Listening to those tunes…my god, it’s like a time machine. It’s like I’m back in my hometown, attempting (badly) to do cartwheels or running through the sprinkler with popsicles with my friends, listening to the tapes. Those songs…I get people may think they’re simplistic or silly, but dude, don’t you think we need that sometimes? I want to be able to put cares and problems away and just enjoy myself. I like going back to that time when I could believe in those lyrics.

I will admit, though, that I have burned all the upbeat songs onto a CD so I could have a break from the love songs. Being a terminally single (and headstrong) chick, sometimes that gets to be a little too much. However, I have noticed a certain quirk…

It started when I walked a bit more and would listen to the greatest hits album while attempting to jog without dying. There are some great beats in those songs, but there’s one in particular that took me right back to my egotistical pre-teen self…

For whatever reason, when I listen to The Right Stuff, I stand taller, strut better, I just…I have no idea. I don’t know why that song suddenly makes me feel like the most amazing female on two legs, but there it is. I don’t know if it’s connected to how I felt about the tune when I was younger…god knows my group of pals and I thought we were IT back then. Seriously, it’s amazing and hilarious how awesome kids’ egos are. We were completely convinced that we were the type of girls worthy of having those songs written about us. And yes, we weren’t even like thirteen yet. Like I said, awesomely delusional. I wish I could bottle that ego and spray it on me now when I need it.

Interestingly enough, I didn’t always feel that way about the other relationship songs. I mean I got love, I got longing and all that – I think people of all ages are wired to feel those things. But some songs…just felt too big. Too…out of my league. Something. Cover Girl was the big offender at the time…I was very aware that there was no way my gawky, preteen, awkward self could be considered that amazing. What was interesting was that when I started listening to these songs again  much (much much MUCH) later, I still felt that way…maybe not insignificant, but not up to par. Needless to say, I skipped over it for the longest time…until it actually came up on a local radio station known for playing anything. Stuck in traffic, I didn’t want to lift a hand off the wheel and change the channel, so I was forced to actually listen to the words. And somehow…that little egotistical part of me from way back in reared it’s head. It was time to do something about that insecure part of myself, time to take things in hand. I mean, if I didn’t feel deserving of myself, then who the hell else would?

I’m known for my flippant remarks at times, and one of my mainstays is commenting that whatever song that comes on the radio was really written about me. I apply this to the Rolling Stones, Roy Orbison, hair bands, and everything in between. In some ways it’s a smart-ass joke…because yeah, sure, I’m really the type of girl featured in hair band videos. Sure. And yet…it’s an ego boost. So that day in traffic, that long-lost ego decided to claim Cover Girl for my own and not look back. It’s one of my faves now, and I’ve stopped feeling left out when I hear it. I mean hell, I’ve got myself, so that’s something.

It’s interesting to me that a “boy band” could teach someone to stand by what’s important to them, just like it’s interesting that even at this old, decrepit age I can learn how to be a little easier on myself, even love myself a bit more by hearing certain songs in a new light. But I suppose that’s the beauty of music in general, and what makes a really good song…it speaks to all types of different people, and makes it easy for any type of person to claim it for their own.


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