Do you sometimes think back to the good ol’ days? The days that never seemed good enough at the time? “I sure miss that time,” my husband confessed, referencing when he would walk to and from his high school. It was a Tuesday night, pouring rain as we rushed through town and happened to drive past his old stomping grounds. Amidst our errands, we proceeded to reminisce what we loved about our youth. Having grown up in different cities, I mentioned that when I started secondary school I was able to get a lift to school with my parents. It was a luxury, which of course, I did not appreciate at the time. What I would have done to be granted permission to take the city bus as opposed to facing the embarrassment of door-to-door service. Of course, when I was finally told by my parents that if I wanted to meet my friends, or not have to wait around after school for a lift home, then I could take the bus, I was terrified.
Growing up in the 1990s, it was a time before smart phones, before MP3 players – imagine commuting without having a phone, music or social media to occupy the time. During my first commute on public transit, I remember thinking of how in a couple of more years I would be old enough to drive to go meet my friends. When we’re young, we always think about what’s to come, the next step. It was so rare for us to ever be in the present during that turbulent era of adolescence; we were always looking forward to that next chapter. The chapter of independence.
That first bus ride which had seemed so liberating not a year earlier was of course, not so exciting. I remember finding an old walkman around the house that year so that I could listen to music on the bus. I saved up some money to buy a couple of cassette tapes and used my parents’ radio that also housed a tape recorder to record hit songs. This required having to have the radio on almost all the time and hitting the ‘record’ switch at the opportune moment when my favorite song finally aired. One tape took about eight hours to compile, but the investment was worth it.
The songs on that tape further added to my daydreaming of the years ahead. When I think back to that period in my life, I have a laugh and label it the Dawson’s Creek years. The years when my friends and I wished our lives could be more like those of Dawson and the gang. I have such a clear memory of listening to Brandy’s Have You Ever single in my friend’s basement. Amidst reciting the lyrics from the album’s CD jacket, we discussed how we could relate to the words.
Other songs that stand out in my mind from that era are Love Fool, by The Cardigans, a song that was so catchy, that I didn’t grasp the darkness of its lyrics at first. Remember that one-hit-wonder ballad by Shawn Mullins? Lullaby was nominated for a Grammy in 1998. It’s a song about a young woman who appears to have it all together, but is really at the brink of falling apart. And of course, the slow dance song for all slow dances, Water Runs Dry by Boyz II Men. When I hear that song today, I want to call my parents and apologize for how often I used to play that song on repeat. I must have driven them crazy.
When I play those love songs of the 1990s today, I realize that what made these songs so special for me in those days were their stories. The stories that I and my peers had yet to tell, but could not wait to experience. So much so that we dramatized our day to day events on our own, out of nothing. Drama out of a note passed in class that probably just said ‘I’m bored’ but was misconstrued as gossip. Building up the courage to confess to another person that you liked them. Having to take public transit. These were the stories that we could tell, and at the time in one’s life when emotions can change in a second, these stories were of equal weight to the lyrics of our generation’s music.
During our busy adult lives of running errands, my husband and I joked about how simple life used to be back in the day. The days when all we wanted to do was fast forward, and how now, we feel nostalgia for the years that passed all too quickly.
If you grew up in the nineties era, here are some of my fave love songs of that decade:
Iris – Goo Goo Dolls (1998)
Lullaby – Shawn Mullins (1998)
Insensitive – Jann Arden (1994)
Call And Answer – Barenaked Ladies (1998)
Kiss Me – Sixpense None The Richer (1997)
Love Fool – The Cardigans (1996)
When You’re Gone – The Cranberries (1996)
Head Over Feet – Alanis Morissette (1995)
You Were Meant For Me – Jewel (1995)
Water Runs Dry – Boyz II Men (1994)
I Have Nothing – Whitney Houston (1992)
Have You Ever – Brandy (1998)
(Everything I Do) I Do It For You – Bryan Adams (1991)
More Than Words – Extreme (1990)
Nothing Compares To You – Sinead O’Connor (1990)
Everlong – Foo Fighters (1997)
I’m Kissing You – Des’ree (1998)
Never Ever – All Saints (1997)
Give Me One Reason – Tracy Chapman (1995)
Back For Good – Take That (1996)
Take A Bow – Madonna (1994)
All I Have To Give – Backstreet Boys (1997)
This Kiss – Faith Hill (1998)
Wonderwall – Oasis (1995)
(I Can’t Help) Falling In Love – UB40 (1993)