Talking to You about The New Kids on the Block
(Part of my series on Rob Sheffield's Taking to Girls about Duran Duran)
One day Caroline was telling me Joey Mac stories and she mentioned that his nickname in high school was "Wedgie." It only made her love him more fiercely. There was always something enjoyable and lovable about those New Kids. They never had the disastrous post-teen-pop crash. After the hits dried up, they got on with their lives. My friend Desiree even went on a New Kids cruise last winter, where you'd call room service and Donnie or Jordan would show up at your cabin with your food.
Rob Sheffield's book came out in 2010, but this chapter on the New Kids on the Block has no mention of their 2008 reunion, which makes it feel eerily AU. You'd think it would have featured in his NKOTB-crazy sister Caroline's life somehow. Then again, he does say that this boy band have become a part of her past that she wants to hide from her own children. =P So what we have instead for closure is the story of the time she stood in line to get an autographed album by one of his musical idols, who was as far from the New Kids as he could draw her.
But never mind the proper historical context, for that's not what this chapter is about. What Sheffield is writing about here is the inescapable influence of the music our siblings like.
Caz and I always traded tapes, trying to turn each other on to the music we loved. I taped her the Replacements and the Ramones; she taped me Bon Jovi and Tiffany. I taped her Let It Be for her birthday. (Conscientious big brother that I am, I omitted "Gary's Got a Boner".) We liked each other's music way more than we would admit. Bon Jovi's "Wild in the Streets" stopped me dead in my tracks, a stupid-rock mall anthem to end all mall anthems, to end all anthems, to end all malls. Meanwhile, Caroline was putting "Sixteen Blue" on her answering machine. Whenever we confessed how much we loved each other's music, we each felt both flattered and disappointed at the same time.
My youngest brother, Cue-card Boy, was the only one I ever went back and forth with about music--the only one of whom I could say, "We still argue about music, because we love the argument too much to give it up. It's always going to be one of our ways of talking to each other" . . . except that I'd have to take out the adverb "still."
He had a great time pretending to be disgusted by McFly--almost as great a time as I had disparaging Justin Bieber. We met in the middle when I played him my favourite Bressie song and he taught me all the words to an Owl City single that I admitted I was charmed by. What we didn't struggle to have in common were Taylor Swift (though we loved her for different reasons) and Green Day (though I was more of a Dookie girl and he a 21st Century Breakdown boy). But it was he who turned my simple enjoyment of "Weird" Al Yankovic into serious appreciation, and he whom you all have to thank for the "Weird" Al Yankovic Song Smackdown. (He would have been all over the Children's Programme Fake Band Smackdown like snakes on a plane.)
Well, Cue-card Boy and I never quite entered the mixed tape stage of our relationship . . . partly because his generation doesn't do mixes any more than it does cassettes and CDs (Do messages need their special media or what?) and partly because he died a few years ago. (I still love you, baby! Here's your favourite McFly song! Bwahahahahahahahahahaha!) I will never stop wishing that he were still here, for me to sing to . . . and to sing with. Even if he insisted on Bieber.
Your Turn at the Jukebox: Is there a musician or group that you are fond of, not necessarily because you care for their music, but because you care about someone who does?