In praise of our musical mentorsApril 26, 2010
My very first musical mentor was my sister, V, and she’s probably the person who bears the most responsibility for my taste in music. When we were both barely teenagers, she turned me away from the dark side that was Top 40 radio, and set me on the path that I’ve followed for the rest of my life.
V’s only a year older than me, but she was infinitely cooler. When we were in middle school, I wore nondescript black clothes. She got in trouble for wearing a hot-pink minidress she designed and sewed herself. She talked to boys; I didn’t talk to anyone. She performed in the school musical; I was a library helper.
Both of us spent our childhood watching Casey Kasem and waiting eagerly for the Top 40 countdown on our local radio station so we could tape our favourite songs. Then, her musical tastes evolved. I remember her staying up late to listen to Brave New Waves, the CBC‘s groundbreaking indie/alternative music show, while I was still listening to Def Leppard. She was probably the first person in her school to become a Smiths fan. To this day, “How Soon Is Now?” is like Proust’s proverbial madeleines—when I hear it, I’m instantly transported back to the streets around the house we lived in where we were kids, where V and I shared a paper route. She started listening to David Bowie when Let’s Dance came out and, because she was older and cooler, so did I, thus beginning a relationship with an artist that’s endured my entire life. We discovered that the Toronto Public Library had a fantastic collection of records and started working our way through his entire discography. And, most importantly, she started listening to our local alternative radio station, in lieu of Top 40 radio—and so, of course, did I.
If you’re reading this, you probably have one or more people who introduced you to the wider world of music, either as a kid or an adult. Today’s a good day to thank them.