In My Life: “Everlong”, “No Diggity”, “Shining Star”, “Hypnotize”

More of the Time Capsule playlist sub-series.

“Everlong” – Foo Fighters
Super poignant song with barely any specific memories attached. But it reminds me of my sister, who listened to the Foo Fighters when we were growing up, and the surprisingly tearjerking Late Night with David Letterman finale. Dammit, Dave Letterman, I’m glad you got to retire but I miss you. And dammit, Dave Grohl, thanks for sticking around with us all these years.

Fun fact: I work in the building where Letterman got his broadcasting start.

“No Diggity” – Blackstreet

The throwback hip-hop radio stations must play this at least 10 times a day. And each time I hear “Yeah, you know what? I like the playettes. No diggity, no doubt…” it throws me back to two distinct eras.

The first is shadowy memories of Melody Skateland, a west side institution during both my childhood and my mom’s, 30 years prior.  Between the two westside roller meccas, Melody (on W. Washington St.) and United Skates of America (off 38th St.), I spent many an afternoon or evening on the rink. In the middle of those years, Rollerblades became cooler than regular roller skates, and after a while I forgot how to use the regular ones. “No Diggity” always seemed to be on, along with “Pony”, “This Is How We Do It”, “I Believe I Can Fly” (couples’ skate! AKA time for me to hit up the refreshment stand), and “C’mon ‘N Ride It.”

In early 2001, the rink was destroyed by fire after sitting closed for a few months. Everyone figured it was an insurance scam, but I don’t believe that was ever established in court. My mom drove us over to the scene the next day. It was snowy and getting dark. A crowd had gathered. High school boys pulled charred roller skates and trophies from the rubble. After solemnly surveying the rink’s remains for an appropriate length of time, we got back in the car and headed off for dinner.

Seven and a half years later I was a college grad working for the Obama campaign in Denver. There’s a lot of tales I could tell, people I could introduce, but I figure I’ll get around to all that at some point here. In the meantime, this little memory:

My closest friends were Courtenay, a hilarious free spirit who stayed at the same supporter housing I did (making us two peas in a pod, rarely seen without the other) and Dylan, a dry-witted college student with more poise, ability, and confidence than most people twice his age. (I’ve previously mentioned Courtenay in We Made It and Dylan in #senditformurph.) One of my strongest bonds with Courtenay was over music. We turned on music at work whenever we could and added our own touches to anything that came through my car radio. Most memorably, we added gospel riffs and interpretive dance to “Have a Little Faith in Me.”

At work one day, Courtenay and I began singing “No Diggity” – and were met with a confused look from Dylan. “You know, NO DIGGITY! C’mon, you know that song!” we said defensively. Turns out he did not know it. Cue utter shock from us. I struggled to understand how he’d missed this childhood classic. “Wait, what year were you born?” I asked.

When he told us 1989, we didn’t accept that as a plausible explanation. We were ’85 and ’86 babies, but my sister born in ’88 definitely knew it. To make sure this wasn’t the defining difference between the mid-80s and late-80s cohorts, we asked around the office. Everyone else his age knew it. He’d grown up right there in Colorado, not Turkmenistan or whatever sad country might not be familiar with “No Diggity.”

In any case, we played it for him, and he still shrugged. “I don’t know, maybe I’ve heard it before? I don’t think so. Doesn’t ring any bells.” Still in awe, we consoled ourselves that at least NOW he knew it. We played or sang it frequently around him after that. Many years later, he told me he still thinks of Courtenay and me when he hears it. Which is all I really ever wanted in life, for someone to hear “No Diggity” and be reminded of me.

“Shining Star” – Backstreet Boys
At the point this came out, I was growing out of boy bands, but I do remember running out of my own CDs and borrowing this album from my sister during long family drives. We never had good Discmans. Not even okay ones. They were all terrible quality and broke quickly.

“Hypnotize” – Notorious B.I.G.
Epic video for an epic song. No particular memories other than a friend introducing me to the badass Herb Alpert song it samples, but if I was a baseball player, this would be my walkout song. Biggie’s death (also mentioned in my previous post We made it) was reported to me breathlessly by my loyal 5th grade rival, Brandon, with whom I had a 3-year-long battle of the wits. A cloud hung over our elementary school for the rest of the day, one seen only by those who understood the magnitude of the loss. Did I know many Notorious BIG songs? Not at the time. Did I watch his music videos then? No, we didn’t have MTV. Did I understand he was a HUGE deal, a member of Puff Daddy’s Family and the epitome of cool? Absolutely.

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