Man, do I wish I kept all those mix tapes I painstakingly assembled during my teen years, if only to access the list of tunes. Double cassette deck, PLAY and PAUSE on one deck, PLAY and RECORD on the other, unclick PAUSE.  Sit on the carpet twirling an individual fiber between two fingers while you listen to the entire song as is transcribes itself on the receiving deck.  Somehow, making a mix these days, while still an art in finding the right compilation and the right order, just isn’t the same.  It must have been this way when the microwave was invented and the effort it took to make popcorn was drastically reduced. 

Anyway, in this week’s episode of All Songs Considered, Bob Boilen responded to a fan’s post asking for advice as he was pulling together a list of choice albums for his daughter, who is about to turn 13.  It was going to be a compilation to help her navigate her teen years.  Boilen devoted a whole hour to answering the question, even airing other listeners’ opinions on what got them through their teen years. 

That got me thinking…

Tunes that got me through my teen years: 


Oh, how I loved Reality Bites.  I can still picture the waifish Winona Ryder lying on the bed in a red t-shirt smoking a cigarette her mind riddled by thoughts of Troy and Troy picking up the phone in the hospital and setting it back down.  Ah!  All I want is you!  All I wanted to do was lie on the floor of my room and live inside this song.


This was like the song of the summer of, I want to say, 1994.  I know it came out before that, but it took that long to find its way onto the jukebox in the canteen at Camp Kinder Ring.  “She’ll tell you she’s an orphan, after you meet her family…”


My uncle was a music buff and he gave me a cassette recording of a The Band album.  I totally latched onto this song.  For some reason, I could feel the first few drum beats in my chest and I love the split second of silence after “…and, and, and…put the weight right on me…”   This was also the album that introduced me to Long Black Veil. 


Somehow, even though it was on cassette, I had a very grainy recording of this song, which only added to the “lost in space” gestalt that I felt whenever I heard it.  “We’re just two lost souls swimmin’ in a fish bowl…”  Yes!  With this song, as with All I Want Is You, there was this feeling of being found by that boy you like…there’s that distance, the pining…but really it’s just you alone in your room, wishing you were Winona Ryder.  She gets the guy. 

So what say you? Which tunes got you through your teens?