Thursday, January 10, 2008

Cheetah Gym smells like teen spirit.

I'm sure this special has been running for weeks now, and that, despite incessant television watching, I've just managed to miss every airing. But last night at the gym, I found myself enraptured by VH1's 100 Greatest Songs of the 90s. I'm just guessing on the premise (I started watching about a quarter of the way in), but I'm pretty sure it involved counting down the 100 greatest songs of the 90s.

While I am a child of the 90s, I'm going to go ahead and admit that a good chunk of the decade is pretty much null and void for me, at least as far as music goes. When you're ten years old and chubby, living on a strict diet of Blueberry Pop-Tarts, Deviled Ham and Family Matters reruns, raised under the concerned gaze of intelligent yet unfailingly Catholic parents who, due to their decision to start a family later in life, have little knowledge of pop culture and a mounting fear of its corruptive powers, there isn't much world outside of the one created for you. If I listened to the radio, it was almost always an oldies station. I was lucky if my mom's grab bag of AM stations produced anything from the 60s or 70s, as most of it consisted of crackly 40s gems about bringing soldiers home and... that's about it.

As a result, virtually every other song featured on VH1's special was lost on me. Everything before '94 was fascinating, but unfamiliar. However, every time a song was discussed that I did know, a flood of nostalgia prompted me to run a little faster and a little longer, ignoring the sharp pains in my left leg, powered by memories of listening to the Spin Doctors in art class while I decoupaged George Bush's face on a fishbowl, playing capture the flag while Lightning Crashes played on repeat, roller skating while older, more experienced skaters who could make it around the rink more than once without having to roll themselves into the nearest wall glided backwards to 2 Legit, sitting at my cheap drafting table, doing homework by Bath & Body Works candlelight and listening to Tuesday Night Music Club...

I remember slow dancing to Breathe and realizing that boys have an oddly distinct smell, even through boutonnières and ill-fitting suits, finding my place in the back of a blue mini-van while Mo Money Mo Problems took us halfway to school, learning to drive and making Can I Get A... the lead on our soundtrack of Freedom Songs (note: soundtrack also featured a great deal of Indigo Girls, who were oddly absent from said survey).

Anyway, there's no point really. Just taking another moment to revel in a pretty decent decade. Although I spent the first third of it hoping Bing Crosby would win the Best New Artist Grammy, the rest of it shaped my coming of age, whatever that amounted to be. And I still enjoy a good beer buzz early in the morning.

ALSO: By way of Gawker, and so completely related to the subject matter above, I would like to take 1992 The Party to the people of Chicago and Omaha. Who's with me? (Scroll down on the MySpace page for the explanatory NYT article)

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