Behind the Music: This Is What I Used to Listen To and Why

***I recently had writer’s block, but felt like writing (odd I know), so I asked my friends and followers to choose a topic for me to write about. The rules were simple, as posted on all of my social media as follows:

1. I will make the article 1,000 words or more (depending how inspired I am) at the very least. To be posted on Medium (https://medium.com/@noahwatry) and my personal website (noahwatry.com) once it’s rebooted.

2. You cannot nominate that I write about someone else we both know personally (no nominating significant others or family members). You can nominate yourself or an athlete/celebrity though.

3. Nothing religious or political. I’m not interested in creating a division among my friends, nor am I interested in talking about something I’ve always said I would keep private (religion and politics).

4. Also, nothing I have touched on before. If you want to know more about my poker playing or thoughts on funeral service, please check out my book (available on Amazon: Life and Poker by Noah Watry) or other articles here, on Medium.

5. Try to be creative! This is your opportunity to read about what you want to read about. I will personalize this as much as possible for you, so let’s have some fun with it! ***

I will admit that my taste in music is not like yours. In fact, it is very different. I have gone from a pre-teen obsessed with R&B music (no idea why) to a teenager who only listened to whiny punk music (hello High School).

The year was 1995, December. I received my first CD player in the form of a Philco one disc, two cassette player for Christmas. I was ecstatic. I couldn’t even contain myself when I would further receive my first CD’s later on at my family’s Christmas party. The gifts given to me were Boyz II Men: II and Warren G: Regulate.

I told you, I had a thing for the songsters and rhymesters. I thought I was the coolest and the toughest. Here I was, a white 11 year old in a very suburban town of 1,000 people, listening to the likes of artists they probably hadn’t heard of. I guess I was always different (shrug)…

I remember when The Hog 102.9 FM was Lazer 103 FM with Fish (I think that was his name), as he always proclaimed he knew the members of Motley Crue on a first name basis. I remember when 103.7 Kiss FM was new (I think I was in 8th grade then) and played all the top ten hits. They’ve since narrowed it down to the top 5 hits. Haha.

But more importantly, I remember being 11 years old, listening to the “Quiet Storm” on V100 FM (100.7) on the Milwaukee FM radio station. I would fall asleep to this as a middle school student. It wasn’t until the summer of 1998 when I would find my forever favorite band, Duran Duran, an eighties outfit of a band if there ever was one. But, until then, it was all R&B. A lot of us, in middle school, thought we were the shit. Again, pardon my language, but you know exactly what I mean by this.

The fact is, we weren’t, though.

More to the fact, is that all of us would hang out, and listen to the likes of Coolio, Snoop Dogg, R Kelly, Toni Braxton, Monica, Tupac and Notorious BIG…

Basically, if it was of the rap persuasion or rhythm and blues type, we were all over it. It was different. It wasn’t what our town listened to. Shoot, it wasn’t even what our county listened to. Yet, there we were, writing lyrics down, love notes even, to our heart’s content.

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Keyshia Cole in concert.

I remember writing down, and then sending in love letter form to any girl I was interested in, R Kelly lyrics (bad choice in retrospect) or even AZ Yet’s one hit song “Last Night (as if I knew what sex was as a fifth grader).” The point is, we listened to these songs and spouted them off without recourse. That’s the privilege we had. It’s the privilege we grew up with.

I didn’t live this life, nor did I know anything about it, but I sure listened to it. I’d imagine this is what happens still to this day, with today’s teenagers.

I still remember my own father scolding me for listening to Warren G before bed and telling me to “turn that shit off.” Naturally, I didn’t. I only made sure I stayed up long enough to start the CD over from the beginning. Ok, now I can go to sleep. I really think we listened to what we did when we did was because it was seen as outcast. It was music that our parents didn’t like.

For those of you that are parents now, can you relate?

Stop. Hammertime (Craig). Think about it. Did you listen to what your parents listened to? My answer is going to be a resounding no, without even knowing your answer. So, there you have it. We were so-called rebels back then. Only, we really weren’t rebels, but just listened to music we thought made us bad ass. We thought we were the coolest.

Yeah, but Coolio was pretty cool, am I right? Fantastic Voyage and Gangsta’s Paradise sure felt like we lived the life.

The reality is that we didn’t. It wasn’t until high school hit, when I first heard Good Charlotte on 102.1 FM before heading out in the morning. The song that grabbed my attention was exactly what you’d guess, “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous.” When I first heard this song, I felt a rush through me. I felt like I was even more of a rebel than I already was. Forget staying up late and playing video games to unwanted music; now I wanted to listen to music that rebelled against everything. I wasn’t just about what was handed to me, I wanted to be about what I wasn’t allowed to have. Oh to be a punk in today’s world.

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Paramore, circa 2008. Notice the RAZR cell phone and digital camera in front.

I ditched the rap music. I ditched the 80’s phase (which lasted a summer). I was all aboard the girl-sounding punk music sung by boys. I would say men, but they were of bands no older than 19–20 year olds. Hardly men. Gone were the days of Jay-Z, DMX, Eminem (just kidding, Eminem still ruled every age group), etc. In were the days of Good Charlotte, The Used, The Ataris, Blink 182, Blindside, etc.

*** It wasn’t until after high school I found out about My Chemical Romance, for those wondering why I didn’t mention my idols.***

This was about rebelling against “The Man.” And the man was society. The man was our parents, teachers, rules, anything but what was being playing on 99.1 The Mix or even 103.7 Kiss FM, this was total anarchy mainstream style. This was as American Pie as the movie got. Looking back, it was laughable, just as the movie was, but it was our time and we were all about it.

What’s the most hilarious thing out of all of this? How about me being a lover of country music right now. Yep. You read correct. I absolutely am all about country music these days. Funny how the old turns eh? I used to despise it too. You’d think growing up in Northeastern Wisconsin I’d love it. Nope.

Instead, I avoided country music at all costs. It wasn’t until I was a welder, working among men who only listened to country music. Eventually I began to like one song after another, and now, outside of podcasts (another wow thing, I know), I love country music. Just hitch me up to a wagon wheel and call me Noah’er because that’s who I am these days. Wisconsin accent and all.

Musically speaking, of course.

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Lady A, my current favorite country band.