Forum: You get one shot at ‘first reaction’ to a song; enjoy it

As good as music was in the ’70s, and as much as I listen again and again, it can’t match your first time.

By Edie Everette / Herald Forum

On YouTube there is now a slew of people making “first reaction” videos of usually younger people listening to older, popular songs for the very first time.

During one, a young woman cries throughout Karen Carpenter singing “Rainy Days and Mondays.” Over on an account named SalvoG, we watch a guy with hairy arms shake his head and smile while he watches Cindi Lauper sing “Time After Time.”

A few weeks after discovering these videos, I realized a possible reason for their appeal.

I may be biased but being a teenager in the 1970s was a gift from the gods, music-wise. My very first concert in 1971 was seeing Steely Dan open for Bread. That same year I attended Elton John’s Goodbye Yellow Brick Road concert. I saw Led Zepplin, Wings and Billy Joel, who held my hand from the stage for a few moments. I saw the Kinks, Jethro Tull, Devo, the Tubes and the Ramones. A cool memory is of seeing the 1977 Iggy Pop tour in Seattle where Bowie played keyboards and their opening act was Blondie.

The point of my bragging is that I am jealous of those folks in “first reaction” videos who get to hear songs from decades back for the very first time. Since I can’t seem to tolerate much of anything new, I have listened to the music from my past so much that I am now saturated to the point where I’m in Hall and Oates hell and Patsy Cline purgatory.

During the 1980s I went back further on music’s timeline and listened mostly to female singers such as Billie Holiday, Mahalia Jackson, Aretha Franklin’s gospels, Dinah Washington, Rosemary Clooney and Peggy Lee. I saw Nina Simone perform on Seattle’s waterfront. I even saw Ella Fitzgerald at the Mount Hood Festival of Jazz in Oregon and when she stepped onto the stage in her sequin dress, I burst into tears like I did watching the birth of my friend’s son Joe; both of those experiences were the closest I’ve come to seeing God.

How can I listen seriously to someone like Adele or even Amy Winehouse — super talented as they are and were — after listening to such quality singers from the paragraph above? It is just difficult for me to believe the stories that more contemporary singers are telling me via songs. It could just be me, but it may partly be the nature of a music industry that no longer takes time with artists or wants to take chances financially.

I have made wide excursions into the country-and-western genre since for a while that was all new to me. But now I’m dang full of that, too! For the past 60 years I also gorged on the music of Kurt Weill, Tony Bennett, Stevie Wonder, Sergio Mendez and Brasil ’66, African traditional music, Oscar Peterson, Chopin, Shostakovich, Elliott Smith and Van Morrison as well as blues, jazz and folk.

The point is that my brain has been filled with it all and I have no idea where to go from here in terms of what to listen to. Nobody told us boomers that we would run out of music. I feel like I’ll go crazy if I hear “Love is the Drug” or “Doctor My Eyes” even one more time. I am living an existential horror.

Once upon a time I came home from school — I was in the third grade — to find that my mother had bought me The Beatles’ White Album. It lay on our window seat wrapped in cellophane, its solid white cover aglow. If I could only be as brand new to it now as I was that afternoon in my bedroom, listening to “Why Don’t We Do It in the Road” and blissfully having no clue what it all meant.

Edie Everette is a writer and news junkie who lives in Index.

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