Of course, she thought. It’s a remake of Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell’s “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough.”
Granted, while this version was nice, there was a magic about the original track that could never be replaced or replicated. And besides, she knew all of the words to Marvin and Tammi’s version but found herself mumbling along to Amy’s cover.
Gotta stick with those classics, it seems.
She went downstairs, and heard her twelve-year-old brother, Kenny, singing in the living room.
“Just like you, I get lonely too... I could really get to know you, take my time to show you...”
Although Audrey hadn’t heard the song in several years, she instantly began to sing along with her younger brother as they made their way through the chorus and one of the main verses of the song.
Once they were finished, Audrey looked at Kenny and asked, “That was a random old song. How did you know that?”
“What do you mean?” Kenny asked. “I found that on YouTube. It’s a Drake song.”
“Kenny, man, that’s totally a cover of an old TLC song called FanMail. I still have the CD upstairs somewhere.”
Audrey looked at him, bewildered. She had spent her childhood following the girl group, singing songs from their original 1992 album for as long as she could remember. “You’ve got to be kidding me. How old are you again?”
“Twelve,” he answered nonchalantly. Audrey thought back -- she was eleven years older than Kenny, and now that she thought especially hard on it, she may have been listening to TLC’s FanMail album by way of her Sony Discman when he was born in 1999. She rolled her eyes at herself when she remembered lugging the Discman, its headphones, and her CD booklet around as a middle school student.
Kenny probably didn’t even know what a CD was.
“You kids these days,” she sighed. “I guess you wouldn’t know them.”
“Whatever, Audrey.” Kenny went back to singing the same song, the name TLC having gone through one ear and out of the other by this point.
Still standing in the living room, Audrey again flashed back -- this time to her father in the basement playing an old Curtis Mayfield record.
“Audrey, come here,” he had said. “Listen to this, this is good music right here.”
As she listened to the song, she realized that she had heard it elsewhere. Granted, she had barely heard of Curtis Mayfield, but she knew this song already.
“Daddy,” she started, “Have you ever played this record for me before?”
“No, honey,” he replied. “This is the first time I’m pulling this album out in years.” Her father had an old stereo that still played vinyl, and every so often, he would pull out of his albums and listen to them while standing in the middle of the room, no doubt re-living memories that he had associated with those songs.
Her mom wished that he would get rid of the entire unit, along with the old vinyl records, but Audrey sided with her dad in this respect. This was musical history he held in his hands, and even if she only knew the music through the samples of today’s artists, she still appreciated its significance.
As she stood and took in the music with her father, it came to her. Kanye sampled this Curtis Mayfield song, and Audrey felt somewhat ashamed that, once again, she was a big fan of re-purposed music without actually knowing its initial roots beforehand.
When she told her father that the current track had been sampled by another artist, he shook his head and said, “You kids these days wouldn’t know good music if it hit you in the face. You kids with all your rap and hip-hop and all.”
The man was right. And so, even if Audrey's taste in mainstream hip-hop music was not going to change anytime soon, she made it a point to get to know the history of the music she listened to.
From Amy Winehouse and her reuse of famous Motown songs to Will Smith’s “Men in Black” blatantly sampling “Forget Me Nots” by Patrice Rushen, Audrey wanted to know the stories behind the original songs. She wanted to impress her father, and let him know that she did have an appreciation for the music of his day. In this task, she found her music library growing larger, and if she were to be truly honest with herself, in most cases, she liked the original piece a lot more than looped backbeat it spawned.
Just as her father had shown her the true roots of the music she had grown up with, she decided that she wanted to do the same for her younger brother. Even if it would be somewhat dauting, she wanted him to be able to acknowledge the origins of the music he listened to as well.
Today, she would start with educating him about Heatwave, one of her favorites from their father’s collection.
“Kenny!” She called. “You like Drake, huh? Come up to my room, I’ve got something I want you to listen to...”