My friends (“friends”?) are currently on a campaign to make me cooler r.e. music. This is largely because whenever we hang out I pretty much spend the whole time saying the same thing, over and over. Well. Whole time being the bits when I’m not starting sentences with and another thing about my grad school application. My friends are being very patient with me about that right now. ANYWAY. I spend a lot of time yelling, “Ooooh! This song everyone else seems to know the lyrics to is quite good, isn’t it?” The one time I said Drake’s new album was pretty rad everyone collapsed into hysterics because “WHO ARE YOU AND WHAT HAVE YOU DONE WITH THE WHITNEY HOUSTON?”
I am not known for being, as they say, down with those kids.
I had to be reminded that my Spotify is linked to my Facebook, and so everyone can see what I am listening to, all day. And I do listen to Spotify all day, because my job is to write, and I can’t write when people are talking. That’s tricky when you work in all female office. I’m often to be found with my headphones on, listening to Whitney’s Greatest Hits or Beyonce when I’m researching, Lionel Richie when I’m drafting, and Bach’s cello suites when I’m actually writing or, even worse, copy editing. SO MUCH CONCENTRATION LET THOSE NOTES WASH OVER ME.
My friends know me so well that I can receive text messages in the middle of the day and I’ll pause my music to tell a colleague, “That’s the darnedest thing, my friend just asked how my editing is going but I’ve not seen her in two weeks so how does she even know what I’m working on right now?” My colleague will exclaim that we must be connected on some deep, molecular level, and I’ll return to my headphones, hear the opening notes of suite no. 5 in C minor and the penny will drop that ahhhhh! I really must figure out how to hide my music from all social networking sites!
(How, exactly, does one do that?)
I finally snapped one evening, when some of my favourites were sprawled on my living room floor, eating tiffin and drinking Aperol spritz and laughing at me because I cried within twenty minutes of them being in my house. I AM A VERY EMOTIONALLY ATTACHED FRIEND TO HAVE, OKAY? I snapped because they were all singing along to some song on in the background, and I was all, HOW DO YOU EVEN KNOW ALL THE WORDS? And they were like, BECAUSE THIS IS AT NUMBER ONE and I was all, OF WHAT? And they got all, OF THE BRITISH CHARTS, DICKHEAD. And then I was confused because people pay attention to the charts? Is that… a thing?
So I was set homework. Every week I’m to listen to the UK Top 40 and the Billboard Hot 100 on my 45-minute walk to work, streamed through my phone as apparently phones can now do, and if I sort of like something, download it and expand my musical horizons by actually playing it instead of Lionel.
It’s not bad advice. I discovered a new album I quite like this week, one that makes my heart go all ache-y, and my throat all scratchy, because I like the words and the melodies and it’s a bit northern soul-y and anything like that reminds me of my dad and I like my dad. I got to my friends’ house Tuesday night and declared, excitedly: “I’ve been doing learning! John Newgent is my favourite!”
The girls said, “Sorry, who is your favourite?”
I saw that as my “in”.
“What, you don’t even know?” I said, eyebrows raised, jeering up to get a cultural one up over on them. “You don’t even know the name of the guy who has the bestselling album in the U.K. this week?”
They looked at each other and then burst out laughing. “WE know who is at number one, but apparently YOU don’t!”
IDK, they said something about how his name is actually John NEWman, not NewGENT but by that point I was already thinking about how, when I was about 13 and The Sugarbabes released their first album (I nearly typed “dropped” their first album then, but remember that I am not, in fact, Snoop Dogg) dad would frequently say to me, apropos nothing, I’ll tell you what, them girls can sing! And I’d be all, huh? And then he’d look bored and exasperated and say, THE HONEYBEES, LAURA.
Yesterday I actually I said the words, “That John Newgent, he can sing,” on my lunch break, and that’s where I’m at in my life: I’ve grown into a pop-culturally redundant father of an insolent teenager.