Music Throughout the Years

Music is a huge part of anyone’s life. We love to dance, memorize lyrics, and sing along to catchy songs. Even Angela from The Office couldn’t help but move her foot to the beat at Cafe Disco.

I have connected with many different genres of music throughout the years, but all fall under the same category: songs that tell a story. Songs that come from the heart of their writers. Music that moves the soul.

I listen to music everyday and today it’s a mix of favorite throwbacks to new discoveries. I thought it would be fun to look back at my favorite music throughout the years, starting from elementary school.

As your typical Latina, I loved Jennifer Lopez. I had the J.Lo CD and would watch every music video of Jennifer Lopez. Her songs were always catchy, easy to sing along with, and romantic. I’ll never forget when, in 5th grade, a friend of mine called me on my house phone and said she was with Jennifer Lopez. I seriously believed her and was screaming with excitement! How did she meet her? How could she call me with JLo right next to her? Was JLo at her house? When it was my turn to talk with "JLo" her voice did not sound the way I expected. Then came the bustling laughter of my friend and whoever else was with her. I was livid and embarrassed, I couldn’t believe I was fooled! Then again, I believed in any possibility, I didn’t want to ruin this possible opportunity of speaking with JLo! Later on I would bring it up again when my friend said Gordo and Lizzie kissed in the Lizzie McGuire movie before I got to see it. “Do they really kiss or is this just like the JLo thing?” I asked her. This time I didn’t believe it until I saw it, and was so happy it was true! (I squealed in my seat when it happened.)

I also loved Aventura. I was both thrilled and surprised when my parents included an Aventura CD in my Christmas stocking one year. I can’t remember any other gift I got that Christmas, the CD was the star. Then there was Christina Aguilera, who I loved and admired. Back then you had to choose whether you were a Britney fan or a Christina fan. While I was an outspoken Christina fan I secretly loved Britney Spears as well. I would listen to a mixtape my eldest sister made for me of my favorite songs, including a few from Christina Aguilera. I remember falling asleep listening to "I Turn to You", wearing my soft headphones connected to my black and yellow walkman.

Junior high school was where I really extended my boundaries and checked out rock music. I was already familiar with Classic Rock because my father loves The Beatles, Pink Floyd, and The Eagles, and etc. Every morning I would put on either VH1 or MTV for their morning music video hour (think YouTube playlists). It was then, at 11 years old, that I first heard System of a Down’s B.Y.O.B. It was loud and dark and fun and intense. I became hooked. Since then I looked up more music of this genre and listened to Evanescence, Linkin Park, Taking Back Sunday, Blink 182, in addition to Classic Rock like Black Sabbath, ACDC, Guns n Roses. What attracted me to this kind of music was the emotion behind each song. The artists were vulnerable and sang about relatable things, like loneliness (something I struggled with feeling with often). They weren’t your usual bubbly, fake romance. I felt like they were the honest ones. I also loved the music itself, the guitars, bass, drums, their voices. My taste matured as I got older, I switched to more alternative rock by then, but these bands were still close to my heart. 

High school: where you’re finding out who you are, who your friends are, and searching for direction in life. I connected more with teachers and my guidance counselor in high school. I had some friends, but I liked to focus on my school work and prepare for college. I kept my lime green iPod nano close by to pop my earbuds in when school was over for the day. My favorite band in high school was Interpol. My first concert was Interpol’s at Atlantic City for my birthday with my sister and cousin. My sister and I were probably the youngest people in the audience, I remember adults looking at us and smiling. People didn’t really stand during the show, they enjoyed the music staying seated in their chairs. I couldn’t help it, I danced and sang along with the lead singer Paul Banks with glee. My sister would always accompany me to concerts.

My sister and I at the Global Citizen Festival in 2012.

Even if she wasn’t so into the music, she enjoyed seeing me happy and enjoying the music. She was always up for a show. New York City summers consisted of free concerts in the park, so we were sure to be there. We once tried to get into a free Paramore concert but it was filled to capacity. But we got to hear Hayley Williams sing for sound check! We counted that as a show. It was during this time I connected with strong, independent, lonely, sensitive hearts of female artists. Janis Joplin and Fiona Apple, in particular, were on repeat for me. I annoyed my family with their songs but I loved their scruffy style.

Somewhere in the mix I always loved classical music. I remember we had a Popeye the Sailor record player and my dad had tons of records of classical music, including some Bach and Beethoven. I have cherished memories of going to my first classical concert with my dad and my first ballet with my mom and sister.

While I enjoyed my own taste in music, I searched for Christian music that wasn’t the same old stuff I was used to hearing. I vividly remember sitting at my computer desk at home and searching for Christian rock music. I haven’t even heard of Hillsong United yet. The first few bands that came up in my search were Kutless, Flyleaf, and Switchfoot. I fell in love with Flyleaf and Lacey Sturm's voice.

Once I started attending youth service at church I learned more about contemporary Christian music. The worship during youth service was always the highlight for me. Music was already a big part of my life and I wanted to hear how people expressed their love for God in the form of musical worship. The worship team at youth was honestly the incentive to want to arrive on time. Even if some weren’t planning to sing along, no one wanted to miss worship. The worship team was open, vulnerable, and really drew us into the presence of God. Their vulnerability and love for God helped me open up my heart to invite God in, to know and believe and understand how much He loves me, and to want to get to know Him. We love God because He first loved us, and worship really brought that understanding as reality for me. 

My favorite worship songs during youth were "How He Loves Us", "From the Inside Out", "With Everything", "My Healer", and "Hosanna". Our youth also gave out free CDs of favorite worship songs, a CD my friend's little brother called Jesus Tracks. At that time I knew I had to pause listening to secular music, just for a while, as my soul was refreshed by words of truth and love and of the gospel. I wanted to meditate on the gospel; I needed to keep hearing about this great love and sacrifice Christ did for me on the cross. My go-to artists were Hillsong United, Jesus Culture, Kari Jobe, Michael W. Smith, and Jason Upton. I then started to go to worship concerts with my family and church. Believe it or not, these concerts were a lot more fun than secular shows. People were excited to gather, and the point of the show was to worship the Lord together. Each concert was filled with sacred moments, singing Holy, Holy, Holy.

So what about now? I still love the same music, but I keep The Cranberries, Tony Bennett, and Johnnyswim on repeat. Also Amanda Lindsey Cook, Bryan & Katie Torwalt, and Kirby Kaple. I guard my heart from some of the music I used to listen to. I realize now how some songs can be triggers to depression and feelings of loneliness and despair. While I can empathize with others feeling that way, I know I am sensitive to those feelings so I protect myself by not indulging in things that may rear me onto those paths. You can’t stay away from the classics though, we have to keep those songs alive!


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