1994 :: The Year In Music
Twenty years ago. It is kind of hard to fathom that 1994 was twenty years ago. I know that it is, and I know that some of my friends have been paying homage to the year on their blogs and podcasts, features that I have been enjoying. When it came around to selecting the second installment of the “by year” Throwback Thursday 1994 came to mind and it just seemed the right time for it. So, sit back and let’s revisit the music from twenty years ago, shall we?
1994 was a big year in my life. I flew across country to spend two weeks of my Summer in the Florida Keys with the man who would later become my late husband, and Father to two of my three children. We fell in love that year, and fell not so much out of love, but out of each other’s lives that year, as well (not to be reconciled until five years later).
I started working at Tower Records in 1994, a place where I reunited with some of my other record store life friends (from my years at Sam Goody in the late 80’s), and made some new friends, too. Together they would become a second family to me, people who I still hold dear and talk to quite often, and see as much as I can.
1994 was the year I fell hard for My So-Called Life and Friends and The Real World San Francisco. I wrote a lot of letters that year (real ones, on paper, some to pen pals across the world, some love letters, some full of goodbye’s). I fell back into some bad habits, went to a ton of movies, spent time at the beach, and filled up a stack full of journals. I was a single Mother of a two year old in 1994, still feeling too young, at 25, to be responsible for another life. She was what kept me going, though, during a lot of the tough parts of the year.
It was the year we lost Kurt Cobain. I remember every conversation I had about it that day, and for weeks and weeks after. I remember seeing Tori Amos in concert soon after, and watching and hearing her sing the first part of American Pie, and at “the day the music died” part go into singing Smells Like Teen Spirit. It was my first real exposure to “you will always remember where you were” kind of collective moment.
Music was everything to me, but then again, when isn’t it. So, what exactly was I listening to? Here are my remembered Top 10 from 1994, what were some of yours?
* This list was really hard to narrow down. I think I could have gone to 100, probably more.
“Too young to hold on,
and too old to just break free and run.”
You never told me how you felt until a ticket to leave burned in the palm of your hand. I watched you leave, bag in hand, turning toward me to wave goodbye after you had just confessed everything to me. You should have told me sooner; you should have taken me along, even if I was too tied down to run away (I may have tried).
“If I could put them in a jar,
I know they wouldn’t scar.
I’d do it if I could,
I hope you know I would.”
Though the song came out in 1993, it was during the show My So-Called Life that I heard the song for the first time, during an unforgettable scene in the episode titled Self-Esteem. I’m not sure what I loved more, listening to the song with the scene replaying in my mind, or the song itself that I fell for after that first listen. It felt like that first rush of new love to me then, and listening now, twenty years later, it still does.
“And I’m gonna lock my son up in a tower,
’til I write my whole life story,
on the back of his big brown eyes.”
Some nights I would watch her sleep, serenity could not even describe it the way peace just painted across her tiny face. I would talk to her, softly, telling her tales of my life, sharing secrets that I had never told anyone before, and placing wishes delicately on her for a life of happiness. Being her Mother forever changed me.
“But all the promises we make,
from the cradle to the grave,
when all I want is you.”
I saw Reality Bites the first weekend it came out and beyond the intentional kitsch that poked fun of the burgeoning decade and “generation x” itself, I related to a lot of it, especially Lelaina and her struggles with self-identity/not knowing who she is yet, career choices, love choices, early struggles of living on her own, and the feeling of friends being your new family. Did I have a Troy Dyer? Well, I think nearly all the real loves in my life have had a dose of Troy Dyer in them.
“She didn’t scream,
she didn’t make a sound.
I forgive you boy,
but don’t leave town.”
The return of The Stone Roses had me rushing to the record store to get their music back in my ears. Love Spreads hit just at the right time, and it spun loud out of my car speakers relentlessly (turn it up loud and listen; it is such a tremendous song to drive around listening, and singing-a-long to). I felt like I could lose myself completely in this song.
I only hear what I want to.”
I was learning so many hard lessons about love and relationships in 1994, so many of them about letting go and about even when you do that, let go, you may still miss things about them, and about yourself with them. The missing, though, does not mean you should go back (though I did, to more than one, in some twisted up back-and-forth mess). On a lighter note, I had that same dress Lisa is wearing in the video (actually, I still have it in my closet).
“You should learn when to go.
You should learn how to say no.”
I have always loved Courtney Love, and in 1994, with Kurt’s death and the release of Live Through This, my connection to her began. Frances Bean and my daughter were born the same year, and I was raising mine by myself then, not for the same reasons (though I’d learn years later what being her kind of a widow feels like first hand), but I still felt a deep understanding. I needed this album, fiercely needed it, and each song that I would scream-sing to felt cathartic and full of strength, a go-to whenever I needed to remember what I was capable of living through (it still is that for me, even twenty years later).
“She knows she’s just a little misunderstood,
she has trouble acting normal when she’s nervous.”
Maybe it was the fact that I was desperately trying to understand myself that year, but I constantly felt misunderstood. I followed my heart blindly most days, leaping before looking, and the fall sometimes left permanent bruising on my sense of self. Looking back, I was kind of a mess, but I would have argued the fact, saying you are just not understanding me right.
“I say the world is sick,
you say, ‘tell me what that makes us darlin’?
You see you always find my faults,
faster than you find your own.
You say the world is getting rid of her demons,
I say ‘baby what have you been smokin’.”
Tori Amos’ music meant everything to me in the 90’s, and many of her songs defined me, spoke for me, understood me, and saved me in so many ways. Upside Down felt like a page ripped out of one of my many journals, so personal in ways that I still can’t fully articulate. I felt upside down and inside out so much of the time.
“I look to you and I see nothing.
I look to you to see the truth.”
Always and forever one of my favorite songs. There are so many memories embedded deeply in this song, some of them precious, some of them heartbreaking, and some of them kept secret in the hidden corners of my heart. I have written about this song, and to this song, countless times, and this year, 1994, was when it first hit me. and those memories of that year, they are the first to hit me when I listen now.
Me & Julia in 1994