On Being a Musical Outcast

By Sarah Patriarca

I can still remember the first time my grandfather let me listen to his Elvis’ Greatest Hits vinyl on his old record player.

He had been so excited for my young ears to hear his all-time favourite musician, with his smile reaching his eyes. After that I never stopped dancing in my grandparents basement to “Hound Dog.”

Music has always been a big part of my families’ lives. It was our source of entertainment in between meals and always had me and my sister putting on performances for my family. We listened to all the greats: Elvis, The Beatles, Prince, Madonna, Michael Jackson; all the musicians that made music what it is today.

Music had been a big deal within my family but not so much with my friends and peers that I grew up with during elementary school. It was only when I got to high school that I quickly learned that music taste can be a big part of how people interact.

In school I could get behind the 2000s music, like as Britney Spears, The Black Eyed Peas and Timberland. Pop music was tolerable. It wasn’t too different from what I listened to growing up.  But in high school as rap and EDM became more popular with my peers, I found it really hard to talk to other people. Few of my friends actually listened to the type of music I did.

When I did find friends with an appreciation for the same artists, we found that we had more in common than musical interest: our small group all felt like outcasts among the people we went to high school with. This also made my connection with my boyfriend stronger, as he too had the same passion for music as me. He actually introduced me to more rock bands such as Led Zeppelin (and for that, I am thankful).

On the negative side, I felt like I couldn’t connect with my age group. I didn’t want to socialize with them. It bothered me how unaware they were about music that paved the way for their favourite artists. Now it’s not that I haven’t tried to get behind EDM or rap music. There are some early rap songs that I do enjoy, especially from Eminem and Kanye West, but the music just does nothing for me. It doesn’t inspire me, it doesn’t make me want to get up and dance and it doesn’t make me feel happy inside. It doesn’t make me feel nostalgic, as if I was a part of something much greater.

When I turned nineteen the feeling of being an outcast only heightened. Growing up I used to listen to my parents rave about how dancing at clubs was fun because they played the best of the best music. My first club experience consisted of people playing EDM and rap. I didn’t know how to dance to the music and I ended up head bopping to songs that had no lyrics.

I felt like I didn’t belong. I felt like being anywhere but there. It made me feel sad, to see that the music I had grown up with was a thing of the past. I found it hard to go out with friends from university because I had no desire to listen to music I can’t dance to. There are very few clubs that do nights dedicated to the music from the 70s and 80s, which can be frustrating because not a lot of people want to go.

The only clubs that have the music that I love are clubs for older people where the minimum age is twenty-five. I feel discouraged to go out with friends, which then makes me feel like I’m missing out on the experiences my early twenties has to offer.  

Over the years, I’ve grown to accept the fact that I was born in the wrong generation. I’ve gotten used to friends not understanding references or being able to get excited about music that means so much to me. The music I grew up with makes me who I am today, and I love being an old soul that appreciates the many musicians that made music what it is.