(Originally Created for Fear of a “Black” America website June 2008)
Someone like me needed to find a way to escape, to relax, to breathe and find something to smile about during my years of struggle and chaos at home and lack of acceptance at school. Music has been and will likely always be how I define my world and defy the world around me.
It’s funny. One of my former classmates expressed surprise during an interview when I explained how much music has meant to my life, as if the only thing I ever cared about was absorbing trivia. Many of the reasons why I remember as much as I do from my Boy @ The Window years is because of a song or a set of songs, and not just because I have a great memory. Since the age of nine, I’ve had a music soundtrack of some sort in my head. It’s always been an eclectic one, and has become more so as I’ve grown older.
The music that’s on this page is contained in three charts. One is a chart for all of the songs that I listened to and liked over the course of the 80s, although a fair number of them are from the 60s and 70s – 274 Songs List. Not every song I liked — especially the ones that I liked for six weeks or less — is on this list (think groups like Glass Tiger or Starship, or songs like Baltimora’s “Tarzan Boy” or Cameo’s “Tastes Like Candy”). But it’s a good approximation of my emotional and psychological state for most of the 80s.
Another chart is one that I call Honorable Mentions. These are songs that
1. I liked during the 80s, but didn’t listen to very much at the time
2. I liked for a while, but hardly listen to at all at this stage of my life or
3. I liked, but my other classmates liked even more (see “Roxanne,” “Maniac,” and “The Warrior”).
The last chart is of my Top 100 songs from the Boy @ The Window list. These aren’t necessarily my 100 all-time favorites. My tastes have changed a lot over the years, though I acknowledge that I’m still weird. My music reflects this. These are also the songs that most easily would be the theme soundtrack to the book if someone would turn it into a movie, documentary or Cold Case episode. The list is color-coded. There are three songs from the 90s and this decade on the list, expressing in lyrics and emotion the major themes of the book. The second level color is my attempt to rank my Top 20 songs from the period. After that are the remaining 77 songs on this list – Top 100 Songs/Theme Music.
Most of this music can also be found in iTunes under iMix “Top 100 & Theme Music for Boy@The Window” at: http://phobos.apple.com/WebObjects/MZStore.woa/wa/viewIMix?id=282540463
There are many reasons why I liked and still like almost all of the songs on these lists. I liked what I liked would be the simplest answer. But there are several deeper reasons:
1. The lyrics somehow struck an emotional cord — they made me feel happy, inspired, angry, or silly, helped me cry or think about my world, or helped me escape from the daily stresses of my life.
2. The music itself provided emotional release or uplift — I could see myself in the notes, the pianos, synthesizers, drum beats, guitar riffs and sax solos of songs, or the rich baritones, tenors, sopranos, or altos of singers at key points in a song. I could see myself in love, making the game winning shot or scoring a touchdown, or more importantly, soaring above my circumstances and leaving Mount Vernon, New York for a better place in life. These songs contain notes, lyrics, and voices that gave me goosebumps and raised every hair on my neck.
3. The music that was on the radio or released for popular consumption touched me at a critical emotional or psychological moment. This was almost always true of what I call “music for underdogs,” as I usually saw myself back then. Most of the so-called White music I listened to (and still listen to) covers this as a major theme.
4. Related to the underdog theme are subthemes like redemption, vindication and salvation, even in romance.
There are so many other reasons, but I think that you’ve got a picture in your head about my musical tastes by now.
2008 Donald Earl Collins. All Rights Reserved.