These are all songs from cassette tapes or CDs I acquired at garage sales, flea markets, and lost-and-found bins as a child in the 90s, most of which I never saw the music videos for because I didn’t grow up with cable television. But now we have YouTube! I hope this nostalgic post (for which the main purpose is to distract me from food during my fast) is enjoyable, humorous, or at least entertaining.
1. Fiona Apple Criminal
My Fiona Apple Criminal cassette stayed in my walkman from the day I turned 7 until I was 10. No joke. I played it on repeat, despite the fact that I may have misunderstood some of the lyrics. Regardless, the flute accompaniment to the piano in Criminal is what first inspired me to consider joining band (to play the flute) in elementary school. Surprisingly, the song Criminal is more relevant to my life now than I could’ve ever imagined. Subliminal messages, much?
2. Alanis Morissette You Oughta Know
Alanis was another one of my garage sale finds, when I tagged along for a garage sale sweep with my Nana and my Aunt Kathy on vacation in Lake Tahoe. I was bummed that we had to get up so early to get the “good stuff” before anyone else did, but I found a CD with the “parental advisory” label and a cool looking girl on the cover. *Note: it was the 1995 album Jagged Little Pill. I was happy to hand over 50 cents and begged my cousin to let me borrow his discman. The result was my writing the lyrics to You Oughta Know and Isn’t It Ironic all over my Converse, the same pair I wore through most of high school until they fell apart. Another cool factoid I learned after binge-watching Weeds– Ms. Morissette’s acting cred isn’t limited to her portrayal of God in Dogma. The OBGYN at the Women’s Health Clinic in the fictional town of Ren Mar, CA who wins Uncle Andy’s affections (and almost gets him to stay)? That was Alanis.
3. The Cranberries Zombie
Believe it or not, Zombie was yet another garage sale score. I don’t know…I guess I’m blessed with family members that are pro at it. Anyway, my first intro to The Cranberries was a cassette tape at a garage sale with my Nana and it was in the free pile. Who throws away cassette tapes? People with a stereo system or CD player in their car, I guess. I was 9 when I found the No Need to Argue album featuring Zombie, and it was the second most played cassette in my walkman (after Fiona, of course). The music video is a little intense for a 9 year old I’ll admit, but I didn’t have cable anyway so I never saw it.
4. Nine Inch Nails Hurt
My babysitter as a child listened to Nine Inch Nails. There were also the cool sixth graders at my elementary school (this was 1995, and I was in Kindergarten) that would reference Nine Inch Nails lyrics and sometimes wore concert T-shirts (though now I know it’s less than likely that they actually attended said concerts). I listened to Nine Inch Nails in Kindergarten because I thought it was cool, and I knew I would get into trouble if anyone were to find out. One of the sixth graders left his Nine Inch Nails cassette tape in the daycare, and it ended up in the lost and found. So I nabbed it. And that was that, even though I didn’t understand the lyrics (I was 5). In 2003 Johnny Cash did a cover of Hurt from their 1995 album The Downward Spiral. It is thought to be the last song Cash recorded before his death in 2003. I didn’t see the original video for Hurt until recently, and I also didn’t know there was a Johnny Cash cover. I think the latter is much more compelling:
5. Sneaker Pimps 6 Underground
Somehow, at the Sebastopol flea market in 1999 (when I was 9) I found this hidden gem. It was a Sneaker Pimps cassette tape of the album Becoming X, and the cover art was so rad that I had to throw caution to the wind and buy it (it was 25 cents, but when you’re 9 years old a quarter is valuable). I loved that cassette so much that it was usually the tape I listened to when I got tired of Fiona or The Cranberries, which was a rare occasion.
6. Faith No More Everything’s Ruined
I got really into Faith No More when I found it in someone’s CD collection. This was in 2008, I believe. Years later, as I was sorting through boxes of my childhood belongings when my dad moved out of the house I grew up in, I found a Faith No More Angel Dust cassette without a proper case. I vaguely remember listening to it as a child. Hopefully I was older than 5. I no longer have the cassette, but I now often set Pandora to “Faith No More radio” on drives lasting more than 5 minutes. *Note: There is a lot of imagery in this video that suggests a vegan agenda. I wonder if Mike Patton is vegan. That would be awesome. Also, the underage brunette in the glittery 80s zip-up track jacket looks a lot like Ellen Page.
7. No Doubt Just A Girl
Yet another garage sale find. I found the 1995 album Tragic Kingdom in a pile of CDs in Leggett, CA on vacation. I think I was 8. I hadn’t seen Clueless yet, but ironically I had read several of the books in the series by H.B. Gilmour.
8. Tracy Chapman Fast Car
Fast Car was actually released in 1988, but I found the cassette at a thrift store in Paradise, CA while “back to school” shopping in 1999 on a visit to my grandparents’ house. The cassette was in a blank case with a handwritten sticker that read “Fast Car. Tracy Chapman” and nothing else. I thought Ms. Chapman was a man. Later, when I found out this wasn’t the case, I was a little embarrassed about the times in which I argued that Fast Car was sung by a man (based on my assertion that “Tracy” can also be a man’s name).
9. Ani DiFranco Not A Pretty Girl
I found this at age 8, at the same garage sale I found No Doubt’s Tragic Kingdom CD. Not a Pretty Girl sort of changed my life. I was shocked by the lyrics, not because they are explicit (they’re not) but it proved to me that other people might truly understand me. I related to it, the same way I’m sure many others have. I saw her perform in 2009, and got a little smashed due to all the wine that other Ani-loving ladies offered me from their hidden flasks and Nalgene bottles.
10. Erykah Badu Otherside Of The Game
I bought the 1997 Erykah Badu album Baduizm at a thrift store in Markleeville, CA when I was camping at Grover Hot Springs (near South Shore Lake Tahoe) with my Dad and brother in 1999. While they were out fishing I was exploring the local shops and documenting cool things with my disposable camera. At the thrift store I came across the CD and bought it because it was $3 and the album cover was intriguing. The tracks were unlike anything I’d heard before, and I became a fan. I later saw Erykah perform at the Harmony Festival in 2007, the summer before I left for college.
Afterthought: Having listened to these in my early years I sort of understand why I wasn’t into the Backstreet Boys, N*Sync (there was a star or an asterisk somewhere in the title, right?), Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, or Jewel. Actually–if I recall correctly I met Jewel when I worked local crew at a music festival. I think. Anyway, Jewel, I did like your music and was stoked when one of your songs played on the radio. I just never came across a cassette or CD of yours at a garage sale or flea market.
Bonus Video: Top 10 Ridiculous 1990s Music Videos
*Disclaimer: I actually kind of liked Deee-Lite’s Groove Is In The Heart. And who doesn’t like MC Hammer?