The Day the Music was Born

The Day the Music was Born - student project

Runaway Train, never going back.

Wrong way on a one-way track.

The 1993 song 'Runaway Train' from Soul Asylum does bring me back many years in time. Although it probably doesn't bring me all the way back to my youth. I got to learn the song only a few years later. It then immediately became one of my favorite songs ever. It brings punch, has a melody which gets stuck in your head, and finally, reminds me of all those years when I was not sure if I was on the "right track" myself. During my youth I went through a process of discovering new things, new feelings, new positions, new thoughts, of which I was not always sure everyone would understand them. So often I kept them for myself. These were MY secrets. Until I finally came to understood that it didn't matter after all. There was no "right track", even not when everyone would think so. But - even knowing so - it still takes until now to really let that idea rule my life.

But let's head back to the memory to which the alternative rock song "Runaway Train" brings me to. Well, this song actually brings me back to 1 specific day about a year later: christmas 1994. On that day, an equally 14 years old niece came to stay at our place for a few days. On the way back from Christmas she was listening to her walkman. Playing The Levellers. At that moment I had never listened to anything else than Clouseau and 'Kinderen voor Kinderen'. Let alone that I would really know what a walkman was about.

But immediately when I sat next to her in the car, I sensed that I was missing something important in my life. It felt like one more piece of the puzzle of 'completeness' had come to me: music. Since then I would never do a day without it anymore. If only I could have known that before.

The first song I discovered was Pato Banton's "Baby come back", which was released the same year a bit earlier. I felt a bit obligate to like the song, because I had no alternatives yet. I bought a walkman and listened to it again and again. Many days in a row. I still don't understand how I didn't ever develop a strong aversion of this song, even when at the bottom it is what I call a horrible song. Probably its emotional aspect wins here over its musical qualities.

In this time, when I started wandering through the wonderful world of music, it fortunately was the time you had record shops all over. I am still wondering how i never bought Pato Banton's record by mistake. It must be that I ultimately found better songs very soon afterwards. Artists like Bryan Adams, Bon Jovi and Paul Young were next in the row to be discovered, before I would finally turn to more alternative music like Soul Asylum's Runaway Train.

At these early stages of prematurely listening to music that I thought I had to, I heard many time that I shouldn't buy so many albums. This could just be a hype.  But nevertheless, it was the perfect weekend activity to bike with my father to Antwerp and visiting little alternative stores like Brabo and Bilbo, both of which unfortunately disappeared over time, due to the digital revolution many years later. 

I can remember how happy I was when a little 2nd hand record shop ('Replay') opened in my hometown. It felt like everyone put everything in place so that I could further develop my newest hobby. And so I bought second hand albums almost every week with a friend of mine. I quickly came to a whole collection which started shaping my "new" identity. It made me feel integral part of a new family of "music lovers". Sometimes it was almost "us" versus "them".

And what's good: after all, it didn't appear to be a hype. Up to now, my life was at least partially formed around what started on this specific christmas day 1994. I sometimes wonder what would have happened if this niece would not have been listening to her walkman there. Probably the same, but with some delay. I think I could never have escaped it. This was how my life was meant to go.

I could now safely say that christmas 1994 was the day the music was born. For then. For now. Forever.