I came of age during that shameful period of music known as the late 90's. This was when VH1 ruled the airwaves, handing us down the top ten videos of the day (who decided these things?) in a never-ending loop of Smash Mouth, Shawn Colvin, Sugar Ray, Fastball, and Savage Garden. The radio was alive with ska and neo-swing from the Mighty Mighty Bosstones and the Cherry Poppin' Daddies. Thanks to the Spice Girls, a short girl could easily purchase platform shoes tall enough so she could kiss Jeff Goldblum squarely on the mouth, should the chance ever present itself (my knee-high platform boots had dragons up the side and caused me to be late to math class enough times to warrent more than one detention).
My college years were earmarked by two things--Clerks (both the movie and the cartoon, which I still quote) and the 90's music I had come of age with. Now that I didn't have to share the lone family computer and dial-up internet access with three sisters, a mother who was finishing college and online-poker obsessed stepdad, I was free to peruse Kazaa for songs I was too cheap to buy on CD and that had been lost to mix-tape technology years ago. Better still, my friend Courtney was living in a dorm with fast internet (for the time) and a computer that could burn CDs. I would send her lists and she would return with CDs when she came home on weekends. Fiona Apple. Barenaked Ladies. Classics like "Call Me Al" and "Burnin' for You." Theme songs from TV shows like The Advntures of Pete and Pete and Roundhouse I played Love Amomg Freaks "Clerks" and wrote chapters for what was sure to be my breakout novel (it wasn't).
Baby Boomers and hipsters like to mock people for liking late 90's/early 2000 music, always forgetting that it was what surrounded us. Our parents could play all the Beatles records they wanted, our older siblings could give us Smiths CDs, but like it or hate it, this was the music that we came into our own with. For a lot of us, these were the first CDs we'd purchase with our own money, making that transition from cassette to CD (my first was Savage Garden's eponymous debut--and for the record, "I Want You" still holds up--the rest don't, but that remains a solidly crafted song--also, the keyboard player was smokin' hot). Embarassing as some of them are, there's a lot of joy there, a reminder of carefree days . . . and really, isn't the whole point of music to make a listener feel something?
Next time you're in the car, bust out the Goo Goo Dolls. Sing "She's So High" to your girlfriend at karaoke. Play "Fly" at a party and see how many of your friend's faces light up. Tell high school stories. Remember old jokes and quote movies from your teenager years. You have nothing to be ashamed of.