The Music In My Life

Musical Leaves
Musical Leaves. Available for purchase in my shop links located in my bio.

I was reading an article about one of my favorite actor/singer’s in a magazine and he was listing a few bands/songs that made an impact in his life. It got me thinking about my music likes, dislikes and influences.

Ok so yes like everything else in my life my taste in music is eclectic. Sometimes some of my friends are only a few years younger than me and I just can’t relate to their love for some of the 90’s bands. Ya’ll don’t know how I grew up!

I know a lot of people who have mislabeled themselves “90’s kids” when they were born in the early 90’s. I was born in 1980. I don’t call myself an “80’s kid”. I’m sure you’d think I was older than I am if I said that to you. But honestly I don’t really consider myself a 90’s kid. Let me explain.

As I’ve mentioned before my parents met in a concert choir in college. My dad is seven years older than her but it seems like they definitely had similar music tastes. Like any other singing class I’m sure they sang classic songs from decades before their time (they met in the 70’s, I’m not sure what year or how long). Singing classes I took usually involved songs like Moonriver, and songs from musicals like Camelot and Secret Garden; the songHow Could I Ever Know?” gives me chills and I’ve never seen the musical. Also of course there were a lot of other songs I hadn’t heard of. So I imagine with the two big songbooks my mother had laying around as a kid, some were from there. I know they also sang in Latin–probably never around me because even if I did remember I wouldn’t know the words. Haha.

My parents are both wierdos and would probably sing anything they could get their hands on, like even tv commercial jingles. I remember my mom singing “Memories” from Cats. Except to joke she said mammaries. Insert eye roll. She has a bad habit of learning a part of a song and just signing those like four lines over and over. Ack! Learn the song or be quiet! My dad has a beautiful tenor voice and mom is a mezzo-soprano and for the record so am I. They both have sang in church choirs since I was a child. My dad used to get paid to sing and once he took me to a Buddhist temple somewhere up the California coast. I was fourteen and slept most of the way. I really wish I could remember where it was. He has an ear where he can practice a song a few times and memorize it. I have a bit of that ear but nothing like his. I think my two multi-talented brothers got that from him in spades. They’re tenors also.

A friend once said she refused to sing karaoke in front of me because she knew she’d be out of tune. That made me feel so bad! Karaoke isn’t about how well you sing as long as you have fun! Sing well or not if you’re nervous you can mess up. I’ve done it. Haha. Mom and I even sang together with our church choir a few times when I was in high school. She got me hooked on the Phantom of the Opera soundtrack as a kid, though again I had never seen the musical. I’d fall asleep listening to the songs or one of the two parts of the entire musical. Hey back then it was cassette tape. Where sometimes the click of the tape stopping would wake me up and I had to flip it over.

Mom and I love musicals, anything singing and dancing. My mom and my father’s mother, my Nana are to blame for that. Wizard of Oz, Singing in the Rain, White Christmas, and anything like it. I adore Judy Garland. My mother listened to Carol Carpenter, Janis Joplin, The Mamas and the Papas, The Beatle’s, and probably anything she could sing to. I’m guessing Cher was in there too, we love the Moonstruck movie. I know I had seen the movie and even had a shirt that said Flashdance on it and everyone sang What A Feeling back then. Growing up I also loved Elvis songs and movies and fell in love for the first time with Michael Jackson and well I’m still in love to this day. When I was in grade school/junior high, I remember my friends and I being really into New Kids on the Block and Paula Abdul. I had some tapes, maybe a shirt or two, but I’d never been to see anyone in concert.

Through my dance classes and the occasional music video I also loved Janet Jackson and Madonna, Bobby Brown, Cindi Lauper etc. We probably danced to some songs that kids usually wouldn’t dance to like Pretty Woman and Pump it Hottie. Haha! I danced ballet, tap, jazz, Hawaiian, Tahitian and picked up a love for the music as well. I also love Swan Lake, The Nutcracker and Sleeping Beauty by Tchaikovsky. My parents loved classical music as well. I love listening to it and orchestral music live rather than recorded unless I want something to relax me. My dad gifted me my first CD’s which were the early careers of Whitney Houston, Mariah Carey, Amy Grant & I believe Gloria Estefan. Pretty sure he was trying to get me into singing again. I’ve just always been too shy. I adore artists like Prince (Thanks to the Purple Rain movie), Tina Turner, Diana Ross (Hello! The Wiz!) I was in the Wizard of Oz in fourth grade, and was an orphan & milkmaid in Oliver which I loved being in, singing and dancing a bit too. My mother’s best friend loved to parody songs for her coworkers which I do sometimes too when I’m being a goof. I remember she loved George Michael and us kids had to be quiet with Faith came on TV.

Though I grew up in mostly Latino neighborhoods and my Dad’s family is from Mexico, I don’t remember hearing a lot of Spanish music. My Nana loved Frank Sinatra. Her and my Grandpa used to dance a lot to swing music. I can’t remember any songs that stood out to me except “I Love You More Today Than Yesterday” which was a favorite of theirs to dance to. Songs like that I definitely grew to love. My Grandpa hummed along to songs in the car from Kola 99.9. I know my Nana used to flamenco dance when she was younger. She also used to sing with bands. Somewhere I have it written down the name of a semi-famous singer she sang with. She gave me some records once and I wish I had taken them all because I remember I said no to a Rose Royce one. What was I thinking? Wonder if they would have been worth anything. But they were hers so I probably wouldn’t part with them. When we were packing up their house I did find a ton of Vincente Fernandez records. Haha. I also found a 45 record that turned out to be her cousin who made a record. I was going to keep it but one of my Dad’s sisters snagged it. Grr. I didn’t get into Selena until she passed. I remember friends being so upset and then I heard her songs everywhere. I had a friend introduce me to Spanish Rock. Again I have no idea what band it was; there wasn’t a name on the CD, just a design. I never really learned much Spanish but my friends definitely opened me up to that and a few other genres. Certain people didn’t like some of the dance songs because they were “dirty”. I could dance to them and couldn’t really understand it so I didn’t really care. Haha.

I also got a bit into some R & B, and rap as well mostly though my Latino friends and dance classes: Boys II Men, Snoop Dog, Cypress Hill, House of Pain, etc. Though I never had cable, the weekend TV shows usually played some music videos and then came my love for Salt-N-Pepa, En Vogue, Jade, Toni Braxton, Heavy D, and Mary J. Blige. My older cousin he used to love the movie Stand By Me and that song is one of my favorites though it made me so sad at the time. Even as a kid, some lyrics just hit you. He also got me into Milli Vanilli, but you know it was good for fake singing! Haha! Church & school friends listened to anything from Enya to Ace of Base, a bit of jazz music, Wilson Phillips—the list goes on! There was one kid in junior high who was super into Pearl Jam. I have to thank him for the introduction. Ten and Vitalogy are two of my favorite albums which bonded me with others later in life who also loved them. The ex-fiancé is Latino was into banda music and oldies. I couldn’t get into banda but of course we could agree on the oldies. I do have a special place in my heart for Celito Lindo, after a Spanish teacher taught us a few verses.

Now things changed when I had to move to a completely different area and started my freshman year in a new school. In my old city, I dressed like a little Punky Brewster. Sponge print clothes, denim skirts, scrunchies and colored tights—okay stop laughing! I liked it, but I totally didn’t fit in with the baggy pants, bodysuit and can-of-Aquanet-in-their-hair crowd. Then I went from a like ninety percent Latino community to an at least forty percent Asian school. No really–there was a pie chart in our yearbooks one year. Seriously wish I could just look it up on the internet to show you but we didn’t have internet back then. Haha. It was culture shock on top of a brand new school and environment. I went from wishing I had money to buying baggy pants and bodysuits to fit in at my old school to never having enough money for Docs and like all things plaid. I managed to fit in I think with the oversized plain t-shirts and got an old plaid button up shirt from my Grandpa–sort of grunge. Haha. It felt like most everyone was into Green Day, Silverchair, Toad the Wet Sprocket, Nirvana, Stone Temple Pilots, Oasis etc. I had never heard of Weenie Roast or Warp Tour. Broke girls don’t get to buy a lot of new music or go to music festivals. Eventually I got into them. Once I was in the mall cruising with friends and we hit the music store. This random kid told me to listen to this song he was listening to. I didn’t recognize the band or anything. I slipped the headphones on and it was White Zombie’s “More Human Than Human”. Can you imagine? The intro was a bit of a shock for a church girl but the song was amazing. Haha. I still have the CD, first CD I’d ever bought, also one of my favorites. Another influence could have been a church friend’s brother who I had a crush on who loved Marilyn Manson. Another thank you to him. Haha. Now in high school & beyond there were some new alternative, emo bands & pop punk bands like, Panic At the Disco! & Fall Out Boy, The Killers, MCR & yes even Black Veil Brides–they are some of my faves.

I guess listening to heavier music wasn’t much of a shock considering my Mom’s little sister was in love with hair bands like Poison, Def Leppard, Guns N’ Roses, Queensryche and Bon Jovi. My aunt is was like a twelve year older big sister to me–a pain in my neck! Her and her friends teased me as a kid when she baby sat me. Then when I was about thirteen, my aunt had decided to sway me to the dark side and introduce me to the bands she liked. She used to watch MTV & VH1 and I caught “Give It Away Now” by Red Hot Chili Peppers and later “Enter Sandman” by Metallica. I. Loved. It. So. Much! I was sold. Sometimes I’d spend the night and my aunts room at my Step-Grandparent’s and we would sleep until Headbangers Ball came on so she could see if her favorite song—Anthrax’s “Only”—was still number one. I still also have that album. Haha. My aunt is the one who took my mother and me to see Phantom of the Opera in the nosebleeds and she also took me to see Bon Jovi once about a decade ago. She was definitely a big musical influence in my life.

When I met my Hollywierd friends back in 2004, that’s when things got even more interesting if that was even possible. Tons of bands: Some were 80’s like punk rock, ska, metal and even some more retro rock n’ roll types that sounded like The Doors, AC/DC and Tom Waits. We saw some rockabilly, gothic and well every night was something different. One friend—the one I met first at a Ghost of the Robot concert–loved to find bands in little obscure shows in tiny venues. Once there was one band that I guess was screamo. I was twenty-four but these kids looked way younger, possibly an all ages venue. We stuck out a lot. Haha. The band screamed, the audience screamed along. Apparently they were words. Now don’t hate me but screamo or any other genre of music where the singer growls/screams/grunts through most of or all of the song and their voice sounds like someone who’s been smoking for fifty years–I can’t listen to it. No matter how amazing the music is, how inspiring the lyrics are to millions, it literally hurts my ears. No I’m not being overly-dramatic. My ex used to use this “oh I know better than you/calm yourself” low tone of voice that made my eardrums twitch. It was the weirdest thing, uncomfortable and annoying. Could be because I had horrible ear aches as a kid and they did a procedure on my ears that I think affected my hearing a bit. A high pitched crash symbol or snare drum too close to me is also agonizing. I tend to always have earplugs in at shows and sometimes dancing at clubs if the music is crazy loud. The actor/singer guy loves these screamo bands and I’ve tried them out, I give them an honest chance, but some are a no go. He has introduced us to his friend’s bands & bands he likes that I adore like Royal Blood & Twin Atlantic. I have thanked him and his bandmates via Twitter for introducing me to some epic music since I’ve been following them. But the screaming ones, I can’t. If they sing and there’s a screamed line now and again and it’s in tune I love it. There are also some songs I love from screamo bands in an acoustic version that are beautiful that I probably wouldn’t have found if not for a coworker.

People have shared their favorite music with me at work like the job I had where we could listen to music in the stockroom and I’d make a list. I had this little MP3 player and I’d find upbeat music that I liked and they liked for us to listen to at work. I tried to make it over a few genres so everyone liked at least a few songs. Dance music was always a hit. I love good movie or even TV show soundtracks. For someone short on cash, a sound track or one of those “That’s What I Call…” kind of CD’s was a good way to get a bunch of songs you like without buying a whole album. Like when I got the Blind Melon tape. Yah, I only liked the one song, maybe two. Now with technology people can listen to clips before they buy a whole album or buy just a few songs. Genius! I think I’d need to be a millionaire to buy all the songs I want. Haha. The Queen of the Damned Soundtrack was my go to in the car when I was feeling cranky or wanted to be in a sultry mood like when I was going to one of the indie band shows or club with a gothic crowd. In turn I usually introduced people to Ghost of the Robot (also fronted by an actor/singer), and the actor/model/singer dude’s band back then was The Darling Buds (there are two bands with the same name, they’re not the female fronted band) now called Counterfeit and any other indie bands that came up on my playlist.

I can honestly say a little embarrassingly that for the most part I was a top 40’s girl. It was a quick way to get into “the know” on new music. But again with my “mini-lives” and being around so many different kinds of people it opened me up to all sorts of new music. Though I’m still not big on genres like country, or certain types of music that the songs are so long or so similar that you can’t tell where one ends and the next one begins–monotony kills me—there are songs I like from those genres. There are singers I can’t stand as a person but I like some of their work. No, I’m not going to name names. In fact if you asked me questions like who my most influential band/musician, I would be hard pressed to pick. I know more songs of dozens of bands than I know a singular band’s entire catalog. Though I think there was a point where I did have a lot of MJ’s catalog memorized by album and year. Is that nerdy? Haha. And listening to metal pretty much started my mom thinking I was goth, though I hardly ever wore solid black in high school. Oh man that makes me think of The Crow soundtrack. Le sigh. I thought I was maybe more of a rocker chick. I love my jeans and band or graphic shirts and stud belts etc. But again I see myself as a chameleon and if you stick me in a country club I will at least do the electric slide with you. If you take me to a goth club I’ll see if I can get my black eyeliner straight and have a ball with dressing up and attempting to dance cool. Haha.

One last song that well pretty much describes the biggest influence music has had in my life—my name. My dad was the only Mexican man in the Filipino Concert Choir. They had to put dark makeup on him because my Dad’s side was kind of light skinned. He had a solo in the song, “Sweet Genevieve”. Which if you read up on the song is by a man who was in love with a woman who got sick and died. So when mom was thinking of names she skipped the grandmother’s names, afraid they’d fight over it. She liked Jennifer and Jessica but they were overly popular. She thought of naming me Margarita, and calling me Daisy for short. I joke that she saw how light-skinned I came out and said nope! Haha! Mom also loved the song dad had a solo in. It is French for “white wave”. Also my middle name and my dad’s last name are water-related names and I also happen to be an Aquarius—the water bearer–though it’s technically an air sign. So it all kind of fits. With all the family drama I’ve mentioned in other blogs I’ve seriously though about changing my name and like move out of country so those crazies can’t find me. I wasn’t fond of it back when I was a kid no one could pronounce it until that Madeline movie where it’s the dog’s name. Ugh. Then way later a Barbie ballerina movie. Otherwise I would occasionally have an older gentlemen sing the song when he heard what my But it means a lot to me and now you know why. Yet sometimes I think how I wanted to name a future kid after my dad. Hell if that would happen now. Things change but we’ll see. Maybe if I ever get married I can at least drop the last name. Yah know, I don’t even know the whole song. I think there are a few verses and not everyone sings them all. Maybe one day I’ll try and hunt down some sheet music. People would also point out other songs with the name Genevieve in it too and I occasionally run across some. It was and still is weird for me to hear my name anywhere. No name keychains or license plates for me! I have a record of my dad singing my song. Again I wish we had YouTube back then because maybe someone would have uploaded his performance or at least like I’ve seen, the record playing. Maybe one day I’ll do that for myself. It was years before I could even find anything online of the song. Usually it’s in old movies and once on a Bugs Bunny cartoon. I’ll leave you with a movie clip where they do sing it very sweetly if you’re interested in hearing it: https://youtu.be/7dcfybyLVwU

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