As for the music of my generation, it never really hit me. And I also, to an extent, consciously distanced myself from it because I've always associated it with my peers, and I never felt particularly like I could relate to my peers. But that doesn't mean that a song or two wasn't able to break through my defenses now and then. I have, in fact, (a while ago now) collected a disc's worth of those songs together in a compilation that I'm not especially vocal about having - because, although I might "like" these songs (albeit not on the same level as the songs I'm more vocal about liking), I don't want to give people the impression that I like this kind of music, because I don't especially, and I'm not exactly eager to get a bunch of like-minded recommendations. After all, these are mostly songs I noticed before I realized what it was I liked about music (which also implies that these songs don't have it, at least not nearly to the same extent (and if I had to take a guess as to what "it" is, I would say compelling electric guitar leads)).
But in the spirit of Satanic Thoreau's recent foray into pop music, I thought maybe I'd dust these songs off and pull them out of hiding, once and for all. Though instead of pop, most of these are probably what would be called "alternative".
Ironically, this collection is titled "Modern" even though, by now, all of these songs are at least a decade old. I guess nothing stays modern for very long. I'll take suggestions for a new title if you've got any.
No Doubt - Don't Speak 
To me, this was a powerfully emotional song. Just in the way it sounded and the melancholy lyrics and all. "Don't tell me cause it hurts." Unfortunately, whatever respect I may have once had for Gwen Stefani was tossed out the window with Hollaback Girl. I don't know what a "hollaback girl" is, all I know is that I want her dead.
Garbage - Push It 
And this is what I thought of as an "intense" song back in the day. I always liked the line (and the way it was presented in the song), that goes, "this is the noise that keeps me awake; my head explodes and my body aches", and then bam! "Push it, make the beat go harder."
Pearl Jam - Do The Evolution 
Despite my stance against admitting Pearl Jam into the pantheon of Classic Rock this is one song by them that I've always liked. It's a pretty good rocker, and I like the vocals, and I remember it having a pretty
Rammstein - Engel 
German band with a kind of "industrial" flavor. It's a pretty good song, and I like the dynamic that exists between the male and female vocals. (I won't mention the topically relevant Eva AMV).
Radiohead - Paranoid Android 
Radiohead - Karma Police 
These Radiohead tracks were added later on, as I have no recollection of being aware of any Radiohead songs specifically when Radiohead was fresh (although I do recognize the video for Karma Police (the video for Paranoid Android just confuses me - and not in a good way - but the song is good)). My only connection to them really is through a guitarist/friend of mine I knew in college. I didn't quite agree with him that Radiohead was the logical progression in bands to listen to after the likes of Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd (generation gap, anyone?), but I certainly don't hate these songs. (Fake Plastic Trees came a little bit later still).
Natalie Imbruglia - Torn 
It's funny, because this song also turned up on Satanic Thoreau's Immaculate Pop collection (linked above). The one thing about this song that really stands out is the lyric "lying naked on the floor". That was all it took for me. Also, though I don't usually go for the short hair look, I have to admit Natalie is pretty cute in the video. Interestingly, I remember when she first came on the scene, and in an MTV news break, Kurt Loder (I presume) came on to inform us all that the 'g' in "Imbruglia" was indeed silent.
Madonna - Frozen 
I was too young for Madonna's first wave, but I remember her "comeback". Although I've never invested much time or attention into Madonna's music, I always quite liked this particular song. I remember at one time thinking that it could be enhanced with some passionate guitar licks over top (or even in place) of the humming. I still think so. Beautiful video, by the way. "You only see what your eyes want to see; how can life be what you want it to be? You're frozen, when your heart's not open."
Soundgarden - Black Hole Sun 
In truth, this is a good song, but even if it wasn't, I'd still like the title, because it's a fascinating concept. I recall the music video being pretty surreal, which adds to the appeal. But the idea of the sun, giver of all light, changing into a black hole, to suck everything away, is deliciously fatalistic. "Hang my head, drown my fear, till you all just disappear."
Orgy - Blue Monday 
I would say that this is merely an okay song, but the driving beat and repeated line "how does it feel" is pretty infectious. Also, I like the distortion. Very fuzzy.
Fiona Apple - Criminal 
This was, hands-down, without a doubt, the sexiest music video I had (and still have) ever seen. For a long time it was a guilty pleasure not because I didn't want to admit to liking the song, but because I was afraid to admit to watching such a sexy video. But damn. Ok, so it's kind of sleazy, but wow is it hot. And the truth is, the real point of this entire post was to give me an excuse to admit that. Yep, I just had to come clean. "What I need is a good defense, 'cause I'm feelin' like a criminal." And I'm not even kidding.
Fastball - The Way 
I don't even remember the first time I heard this song, but during the Summer of [Shattered] Dreams, it was played in my presence, and to my surprise, I recognized it, though I knew not from where. Regardless, it's not a bad song. If it has a kind of dull, plodding atmosphere, the lyrics make up for it. Nothing like the dream of picking up your bags and heading off into the sunset in search of "eternal summer slacking".
Metallica - Nothing Else Matters 
Being in the "metal" vein, which I've always eschewed for rock (even before I got into rock) Metallica is a band I've never really gotten into, although I have come across some songs of theirs that I like. This is one of them, and like the Radiohead songs, it came in a bit later than the rest. I also like Fade To Black, which I heard two guitarists perform at an Open Mic at college, but it's this song's lyrics that spoke to my sensitive heart during my "unrequited love" period.
Bush - Comedown 
I recall hearing this song on the radio in a half-sleep daze, and getting stuck on the chorus - "I don't wanna come back down from this cloud; it's taken me all this time to find out what I need". For some reason, I was caught on it, so I hunted down the song. It's not a bad song. Strong bass line.
Godsmack - Voodoo 
Ok, this is a pretty repetitive song, but like the snake's venom, it sinks into your veins and you just can't get it out. The repeated lyric ("I'm not the one who's so far away...") is like a chant that refuses to cease. I had it stuck in my head a long time ago, then I forgot it, then I heard the song again in yet another half-sleep daze, and it got stuck in my head again, so I had to seek out its source. It's kind of hypnotizing.
If I were to add another song, I might consider Nine Inch Nails' Closer, just for being so damn ballsy (it's better with the equally ballsy video). Going back and watching all these videos, I should make this a DVD compilation of video clips rather than a CD comp. I'm actually impressed with how much the dates for these songs matched up. They're all from the 90's, with the majority from around 97/98. Which makes sense, as that was about the time - plus a year or two for the songs to get airplay - that I discovered classic rock and switched over, never to look back. Maybe at that time, even before I switched on, my body was craving music. And these were the best I was stuck with until I found what I was truly looking for. Interesting.
I'll also mention here, since it's relevant, that I'm a fan of Alanis Morissette's album Jagged Little Pill from 1995. Although I like a good female vocalist (see Janis Joplin), this isn't really the type of music I listen to, but the conviction shines through on this album and it really makes a difference. Ironic is probably the popular pick from the album, but my personal choice would be You Oughta Know.
Also, there was a time when I enjoyed listening to Mariah Carey, believe it or not. I've heard her get a lot of flack from people who like the kind of music I listen to, but I liked the way she sang. And I thought she was pretty attractive too. It's strange, because that whole aesthetic isn't really my scene, but for some reason she was an exception. I recall a particularly interesting video involving a jet ski chase.
More than anything, MTV teased me with a glorified view of having a social life - with shows like Real World and Road Rules, even if I don't like to admit I ever watched them, and the idealistic dream world of Spring Break, where it's warm, you're on the beach, watching a live outdoor concert, and you're surrounded by bikini-clad beach babes, and people are doing crazy things that often involve getting naked, and Girls Gone Wild is probably somewhere nearby, too. I simultaneously despised that world - the social world - and I desired it. I blame biological programming, but I've never been satisfied with the loner life I've lead out of necessity. For the little bit of time that I let it, MTV gave me a chance to be a tiny bit closer to that world that I was missing out on.
But there are better worlds, after all, to discover. Worlds I am more suited to.
[Postscript: Reading the comments on these videos is enlightening. Hearing people wax nostalgic about the 90's and how today's music ain't got the same soul really puts my own 60's/70's elitism into perspective. There's no question that the music from those decades had something that's lacking in most music today, but that's not to say that today's music isn't as good (except, of course, on a subjective level), it's just different.
And of course, growing up with music really helps to imprint it on your mind. I wonder how I would feel about the music I love if I hadn't listened to it as an impressionable infant. And yet, I'm mad about bluesmen like the three kings, and I'm pretty sure my parents weren't blasting records by them, so there's some element to my taste in music that isn't purely nurture.
Perhaps I was just lucky to be exposed so early to music that complemented my tastes so well. I suppose it's just a shame it took me so long to realize that. If I had gotten into music earlier, it might have changed the whole course of my life, potentially. I might have had a band in high school! :o
They flutter behind me, my possible pasts...]