The year was 2009. It was November or December. I had just come out of my emo phase – or as much as an emo phase as I was allowed to have as a fourteen year old who wasn’t allowed to wear black makeup or black nail polish or have dramatic hair cuts or colors or… well, you get the point.
I was in my mom’s bathroom flat ironing the hell out of my hair (because it was 2009 and that’s what we were all doing) while I was getting ready for school. I had to use my mom’s bathroom because she had a mirror hanging on the back of her door and I hadn’t quite mastered the art of doing the back of my hair without being able to see it straight on and because she had a better flat iron than I did.
Most mornings I would listen to Mix 107.9 on the radio. It was easier than listening to my mp3 player because I didn’t have to worry about the wires of my headphones getting in the way while I was doing my hair. I was absolutely desperate to fit in at school and this particular radio station played the current top 100. I listened to this radio station in the morning, in the car, when I was doing homework. It got to the point where I could name the artist and song within the first few seconds of the song. For some reason, I thought that knowing the most popular songs would help me become popular? I don’t know. It was a confusing time.
You also have to understand that I was raised on a very bizarre mix of classical, new age, and ’90’s love songs. The first songs that I have memories of are Boadicea by Enya, the second movement of Beethoven’s Seventh, and Truly Madly Deeply by Savage Garden. The first album I listened to all the way through was Sting’s Brand New Day (and I could still probably sing all of the lyrics for you because I listened to it a lot). This isn’t to say that the music wasn’t amazing (because it was and still is and I still listen to all of that when the mood strikes me), but it wasn’t exactly played at school dances.
Anyways, on this particular morning, I couldn’t listen to Mix 107.9. I can’t remember exactly why. Maybe they were off-air. Maybe they had started playing an inappropriate song and my mom was in the room and I got embarrassed. I started scanning on the radio for the closest radio station that was playing music and not some boring morning talk show (morning talk shows were the bane of my existence as an early teenager – I just wanted the music, please and thanks). I ended up landing on 101.9 The End, which was a blend of alternative music from the ’80’s on down to the present day (of 2009).
I paused on this station. The most amazing song I had heard was playing. I hadn’t ever heard anything like it. It was so different from everything else that I had been listening to the past several months. It made me want to dance and nod my head and belt out the words I didn’t even know yet.
When the song ended, I listened for the DJ to announce what the song was, but to my wild and stinging disappointment, he didn’t. He launched into one of those dreaded morning talk shows. I was so frustrated, but I had to rush out the door for my carpool to school. All day the melody was stuck in my head. As soon as I got home, I went to the radio’s website to see if I could find the song in their recently played list. I was wildly disappointed once again to find that the list only went back a few hours, and the song wasn’t on there. Nor could I remember any of the specific lyrics to google.
But my fate was sealed. I had to find the song. The next morning, I turned on the radio to 101.9 The End and braved an hour of the morning talk show to see if they would play the song again. Of course, for an hour of talk show, they only played two or three songs and they weren’t going to play the same one they played the day before. My fourteen year old self was so hopeful though. Day after day went by of me listening to that morning show to hear the song again.
While I was listening for that one particular song though, I was exposed to a whole new genre of music that I really, really enjoyed. I discovered Matt & Kim, The Black Keys, MGMT, Franz Ferdinand, Young the Giant, The Naked and Famous, and other bands that I still love and will listen to.
Finally, weeks after I first heard the song played on the radio, they played it again. I was ecstatic. It was just as good as I remembered it being. And this time, the DJ even announced the name and artist. 1901 by Phoenix.
(Also for your listening pleasure, I have included links to Boadicea, the No.7 Movement II, and my favorite song from the Sting album I referenced. Enjoy!)