180.

Prompt: Tell us about a time you did a 180–changed your views on something, reversed a decision, or acted in a way you ordinarily don’t.

I spent most of 8th and 9th grade listening to Guns ‘n Roses, Warrant, Cinderella, you know, all the hair bands of the 1980s.

By 10th grade I graduated to Depeche Mode, The Cure, REM, U2, The Smiths.

Pop music was always on my radar, but it wasn’t ever a real priority. And country music? Please. I heard enough of that when my dad worked in the garage–Merle Haggard, Waylon Jennings–to know it was not for me.

And then after 10th grade, we moved to Montana.

Many of my preconceived notions about Montana turned out to be false. They had indoor plumbing, for example, and I never did risk hitting a buffalo on my way to school. But one stereotype seemed accurate: when it came to radio stations, I felt smothered by country music.

Initially, I just dug in my heels even more, adding They Might Be Giants and Oingo Boingo┬áto the rotation of cassette tapes in my K Car. But eventually, country started seeping in the doorjambs, and I didn’t entirely hate it.

In fact, I started to really like it.

Up to that point, my musical preferences were limited: my trusted New Wave/Alternative genre, and classical (I was going to be a classical pianist, after all). But listening to country expanded my definition of music, and soon, instead of clutching my cassettes, I started scanning the airwaves as I drove through Great Falls. It’s how I discovered jazz, driving home on Saturday nights from my boyfriend’s house to the other side of town where the Air Force base was. It’s how I rediscovered my love for Madonna, on the Top 40 station. It’s how I learned to appreciate the storytelling of The Judds and George Strait.

And today, when I look through my iPhone and I see the variety of music I truly enjoy, I’m so glad I did a 180 on only listening to one genre of music.

Montana Monday: Origin Story

I actually started listening to off-the-beaten-path music in Nebraska. At church I hung out with some alt-rockish types, and the two best Christmas presents I remember getting when I was 15 were U2’s “Rattle and Hum” and REM’s “Green.”

So Montana wasn’t really where my eclectic musical taste was born. It was Omaha. In the house we used to live in, the house my parents still live in. So truth of the matter is, I just could not get enough of this quirky music once I heard it, and in Montana I was lucky enough to find friends who loved that music just as much as I did.

But if I had to pick just one cassette tape (because CDs hadn’t been invented yet) that never left our little Reliant K car, it’s this one. I still can’t hear any of these songs and not think of Montana.

Montana Monday: Hack.

I’m pretty sure I was the only person in Great Falls who bought this cassette tape and proceeded to completely wear it out. And I don’t care. It was awesome. I don’t even remember how I found it or why I bought it, because there’s not really any hits here. But thanks to Spotify, I can listen to it again. So Deanne, if Spotify works in Japan, you can listen to it as well.

Montana Monday: Morrissey

I know I had started listening to The Smiths the year before we moved to Montana, but I really got into Morrissey my junior year of high school, because the object of my affection loved him. (That should have been a giant red flag…) And since today was a gray day and right now I am listening to biblical rain hit my window, here’s today’s song.

Oh, and I should mention that every time I hear this song, I’m reminded of the summer of 1992, when the sun shone exactly 3 days all summer, and it rained nonstop. And to find out what else happened that summer, you’ll have to buy my book once it’s published.

And by the way, posts this week are going to be short–it’s newspaper deadline week AND parent-teacher conferences, so pretty much the closest thing to Hell Week a teacher can experience.

Montana Monday: Original Hipster.

At the tender age of 15, my dad came home from work and told us we would move to Montana. That move changed my life in so many ways (mostly for the better) and it forced me to really figure out who I wanted to be. Part of that journey of discovery happened through music.

I know this is hyperbole, but it felt like Great Falls, Montana had 25 country music stations and nothing else. And prior to the glory of internet radio, I had to rely on Sunday nights on MTV for my music recommendations, courtesy of a show called “120 Minutes.”

This was basically two hours of programming dedicated to what today would be called “Hipster Music.” This was the music of Britain and college radio, not the swill that was played on mainstream stations.

Basically, the next four Mondays I’ll pull one song from my Montana memories that I really really miss listening to, in most cases, because I have long since lost the cassette tapes. Even though most of the music I’ll post was published prior to my Montana move, I didn’t discover it until I lived there.

Here’s the first one. For the true Hipsters. There’s some minor language.