Because I'm All About That Base...
Updated: Jun 5, 2020
At 31 years old, I can look back on my life’s last three decades and pick out what you would call the usual milestone moments: my first day of school, for example. I cried so uncontrollably that the teacher suddenly looked up from the story she was reading and chided sharply, “WHO’S FUSSING?!” With that, 30 wide-eyed, finger-paint-smudged kindergarteners turned their heads toward the direction of the sound, and in unison, replied: “CHRISTINA!” Little shits. Thanks a lot. There’s no way any of you are getting my snack pack at lunch.
What can I say: as confident and as cheeky as I was at five, I missed my mom, and it was a big deal that she was nowhere in sight for the first time ever.
But, in life, there are “typical” milestone moments, like the one I just described, and then there are defining moments. Those experiences, large and small, which create a crossroads in a person’s life, and ultimately, set the definitive direction for who, and what they will become.
June 1995: it had been two years since my classroom sobbing incident, and, I had grown into an even cheekier, smart-ass seven-year-old (my mother will attest to this). Times were hard on the southern Ontario farm which employed my parents, so, they made the decision to pack their belongings and four young children into a station wagon, heading toward the promise of better things on the Saskatchewan prairies.
We rented a farmhouse 20 minutes from Swift Current; it was there, in a dusty basement, my siblings and I discovered a shoebox full of cassette tapes (remember those)? One of the tapes had faint, scribbled writing on the label which read, “Ace of Base – 1992.” We had never heard of such a thing before, but the previous tenants had also left behind a boom box, which would allow us to hear what we had just discovered. We stupidly fought over who got to handle the playing of this mystical tape, and after a few choice words and arm punches, my oldest sister slid the tape into the cassette deck.
What I heard emanate from the speakers would rewire my brain forever. A pop beat, and a sultry female voice warning “All that she wants, is another baby, and she’s gone tomorrow.”
I had never heard anything so brazen, so bold, and so aurally pleasing. While I had no idea what she was really talking about, (my first thought was that she was literally baby-crazy and she just wanted more kids), I had discovered that sound could create music, and it was amazing.
This was my life’s first defining moment. From then on, music was in my DNA. The artists I would listen to in the coming years would become the soundtrack to my emotions, my experiences, my life.
The music I was exposed to in 1995 alone has now created vivid memories of that new and fragile time: my siblings and I being given a boom box of our very own, along with Shania Twain’s The Woman In Me record. Awestruck by her country-pop sound, I played it so much that I eventually wore out the tape.
Sitting in my sister’s room, listening to Alanis Morrissette on the radio telling some guy he oughtta know, singing about getting through life with a hand in her pocket, and of course, falling Head Over Feet. Discovering the Tragic Kingdom of No Doubt, where I learned about Spiderwebs, Sunday Morning, and the fact that ex lovers Don’t Speak.
Outside of the musical realm, life in small town Saskatchewan was difficult for me. I wasn’t overly popular with my school peers, resulting in a lot of social isolation. When my parents decided to return to our Ontario roots in 1999, we made the long drive back in that same station wagon. As we pulled into our new neighbourhood, musical lightning struck again. Confident, bombastic piano chords ripped through the speakers, immediately followed by “Oh, baby, baby, how was I supposed to know?” Britney Spears and her iconic hit single Baby One More Time had arrived, and, I got the same, pulsing, excited feeling in my gut which I got in that dusty basement years earlier.
As with All That She Wants, I felt Baby One More Time signaled change, a sense that my life was about to shift in seismic fashion. I was ready. And it did. That song was the soundtrack to a new and wonderful chapter in my life, one which ultimately exposed me to even more amazing music with which my memories of that time are now defined.
New chapters, new music, new memories. I have gone through this cycle countless times, and hope I always will, in bold, unapologetic fashion.
But, I suppose I do owe one apology: Meghan Trainor, I’m sorry I turned your song into an arguably cheesy pun at the beginning of this story. No disrespect. I’ll see you at the boom box.