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My Musical Identity


Eclectic taste is what my father had. Artists in his collection ranged from Earth, Wind & Fire to Eddie Palmieri; Jimi Hendrix to Beethoven, Smokey Robinson to Run DMC. I didn’t like all of his musical choices per say, but some of the songs that he exposed me to remain personal favorites of mine.

I can remember watching VHS tapes full of music videos that my father had recorded from television, since before I started elementary school. My sister V, who is two years my junior, would sit next to me and we would watch Michael Jackson moonwalk (instead of cartoons). When I was about seven years old in 1987, CD players had recently been introduced to replace cassette players in consumer’s homes. My mother had given it to my father as a gift along with a few CDs. V would join me in the living room and we would sing-along and perform the songs. There were two CDs in particular that we would listen to as we took turns getting on the coffee table and utilizing it as our stage. One was a collection of rock & roll hits from the Fifties and the other was the soundtrack from Dirty Dancing. As my father’s collection grew so did our interest in music from what we called “the olden times”.


While I was an adolescent I listened to the radio a lot. When I was around my parents it was tuned to soft rock or maybe Spanish music. Alone I would listen to Pop, Freestyle and Hip Hop. I soon began recording from the radio so I could listen to music on my walkman without commercial interruption. I continued to do this in high school while also adding store-bought cassettes to my collection of homemade tapes. During my teenage years I listened to the radio stations playing Hip Hop, Reggae, and R&B. I shared a room with V and she listened to Alternative and Punk Rock. Needless to say, we got into numerous altercations over the genre of music to be played. I also complained of her daily tendency to play one song repeatedly. Aside from getting better at fighting, I also developed a fondness for the Grunge scene.I already had my own musical preferences but being exposed to my father's and sister’s tastes caused a conglomerate of musical inclinations to form. This happened during my formative years and caused me to be more open minded to other types of music. I began to judge music by song and not necessarily the genre it was categorized as. A certain musical artist’s album might leave me dissatisfied yet I could be enamored with one song and feel like I got my money’s worth. Approximately six months after graduating from high school I enlisted in the Army. Music was a big part of my survival in basic training. I was not allowed to have a walkman in my possession in the earlier part of training so I sang to myself the songs I knew by heart. Long runs and road marches were accomplished with the help of the songs in my memory. They kept me motivated, calm, and ready to take on the next challenge.I bought my first CDs in the summer of 2000 when I was in the second part of basic training, which is the individual job instruction. During this time in my life music had a very powerful role. There were so many rules and regulations that I had to not only become accustomed to, as well as memorize the regulation manual they were located in. No individuality could be expressed at this time. Everyone wore the same clothes the same way. The female Soldiers had to wear their hair short or up and out of the way – nothing too fancy. This was the case in the earlier part of my training but there was so much going on like shooting ranges and pushups to really notice. Now I had more time to myself and I filled these minutes with songs. I always had my portable CD player especially when performing mundane tasks.


Music kept me company while I ironed my uniform and shined my boots every day. It also kept me company throughout my whole military career. There were so many people in charge of me who strictly enforced all the rules at all times. God forbid I carry my bag on my right shoulder because someone would always have to point out that a bag is only authorized to be worn with the uniform if worn on the left shoulder. The bag also better be all black because if it has any other color or design/logo than it had to be carried in your left hand. The right hand has to always be free so you can instantly salute your superior officers. The rules make sense but can be utterly annoying.Not only was music my escape from my humdrum reality, it also proved to be quite therapeutic for me. Anytime I was stationed in unknown territory I clung to the familiarity of my favorite songs and felt a little more at home wherever I was geographically located. While I was stationed in Korea I collected CDs from the legitimate stores on post and also the bootleg ones from the nation’s underground street economy. My music never changed unless I wanted it to. I could go anywhere as long as I had my music. Just by listening to certain songs I would be transcended to another time or place. Technology helped me out as well. I was elated when I was able to start creating my own CDs in 2003. I now had access to complete dozens of my unique playlists just in time for my deployment to Iraq. My genre mashed CDs soothed me and made me look forward to getting back home. Even though I couldn’t bring any musical equipment with me on Guard Duty I would keep myself up by singing random songs. The creation of MP3 players and downloadable music files made it even easier for me to enjoy my music and have assorted playlists without spending a fortune on obtaining the content. I now store my vast musical collection in my Ipod. This is my favorite material possession and is used daily. While I believe my family strongly influenced my musical choices I think being a Soldier helped me appreciate having those choices.

What are your fave types of music? Thanks for joining me! Take care,XO

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