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Music: A Love Letter

iPod nano Gold 16gb 4th Generation

For as long as I can remember, music has been central to my existence. Many years ago I remember my greatest wish was a gold 16 gb iPod nano, back when they were skinny and long and didn’t feature touchscreens. I must’ve been 13 or 14 when I asked my parents to buy me one for Christmas.

Admittedly, I was secretly a Christmas kid. It was nearly impossible for me to fall asleep every Christmas Eve until I was like 16, and even then I’d wake up around 4am asking my parents if I could open my presents. They always gave me a warm, sleepy “Yes” and would let me thank them properly at human hours in the morning. I’d rush to the tree (on 2 hours of sleep) in my pjs, tear open my gifts, and immediately start to play with my new gadget of choice.

The gold iPod nano was incredibly special to me. It glistened so brightly, could hold an unimaginable number of songs (at that time), and felt like pure luxury in my hands. Nothing could top the feeling of loading it up with music and blasting my ears away all night long.

Lights out in my bedroom, accompanied by darkness and the gentle glow of my iPod screen, I embarked on a musical journey through my never-ending world of music heroes. Lil Wayne, Gym Class Heroes, Utada Hikaru, Drake (before he was popular), The Smashing Pumpkins, Cibo Matto, Kanye (before he lost it), Common, L’Arc~en~ciel, BUCK-TICK, Jimi Hendrix, Three 6 Mafia, Led Zeppelin, Red Hot Chili Peppers, John Mayer, The Isley Brothers, Lil Kim, 112. I was always and still am super eclectic, due in no small part to my musician brother that loved guitar, Japanese music, and had an insatiable love for sound. My dad was also a former DJ in his youth, and my mom won dance competitions all over the city in hers.

My dad was a huge fan of the classics — Blue Magic, Earth, Wind & Fire, Marvin Gaye, The Jacksons (“Give Love on Christmas Day” will always take me right back to being five years old), Charlie Brown (“Christmastime is Here” may or may not bring tears to my eyes; what a gorgeous piece), disco, Shalamar, Sade, Michael Jackson solo, Tony! Toni! Toné!, and so on. My mom was always ready to snap her fingers when my dad would blast “It’s Our Anniversary” with his out of this world speakers, but would also have mini concerts of her own with Erykah Badu’s “Baduizm Live” on repeat from ’97. Even if I didn’t have an ounce of taste on my own, a deep appreciation for music was embedded in my DNA since I was a little boy. As my dad blasted music loud enough for the entire block to hear in my small childhood apartment, I’d hear him say “He’ll get used to it” as I tried to fall asleep. He was right, too - I slept like a baby and got an excellent education on clarity (he couldn’t stand static of any kind) and quality (he played nothing but the best 9 times out of 10).

Before I ever stepped into an acting or dance class in my teens, music was always the soundtrack to my life. Before I had a cellphone, I had an iPod world full of sound, variety, and inspiration. Before I ever touched a stage, I was obsessed with Janet Jackson’s “Live at Hawaii” special on TV, was compelled to skate to "Flashing Lights" and other favorites at the skating rink, and was a serious contender in Dance Dance Revolution, UmJammer Lammy, and Bust-A-Groove for the first Playstation. I guess I should’ve known that it would all be over once I experienced live drumming and piano music when I began to dance in college.

So what brought this up for me? Well, Christmas is Friday, and although the world has shifted in tremendous ways, I find myself remembering the simple pleasures of my childhood more as certain moments pass in 2020. Christmas was always a time where my dad would play his best music cuts, ranging from his childhood up until his favorite songs in the present day. And as I approach 28 at the end of this month, I realize music has led me through every rotation I’ve made around the sun.

I may change as the seasons do, but my love for music is a contract I made long before I arrived on this planet. In this life and surely in the next, music will always be my guiding light, my joy, my sorrow, and my inspiration.


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