Why all teenage girls should listen to swing music

The problem with going to a good school is that you sometimes have to get up early and travel far in order to get there. This ended in many miserable car rides during my high school years. My father who took me to school is quite an agreeable man, when I was feeling particularly chatty he would listen, if I was angry with the world because school is compulsory he would let me wallow. But the best part about travelling with my dad was that he let me choose the radio station and so I introduced him to Beyonce, Rihanna, Β and Ne-Yo.

My father’s agreeable attitude changed one day after his friend had given him Rod Stewart‘s ‘The Great American Songbook’ as a birthday gift and he wanted to play this CD instead of the pop radio stations that I usually opted to listen to. I was livid. I was already half asleep in the mornings and this music was just going to tire me more and brat that I was, I complained over and over again but he didn’t relent and finally I gave up.

To me, Rod Stewart was that old guy who dated younger women and wore clothes that were about ten sizes too small but after the first time I heard that CD I understood the appeal, his voice seems to whisper to you, it is like he was born to sing swing music. I was familiar with most of the songs on the album because they’ve been sung by most of the greats but they way that Rod Stewart sang them just seemed to creep into my heart.

Teenage me was an emotional wreck. My self-esteem (like many girls I am told) was dependent on what boys thought of me or how many liked me. Any attention was a good thing, the way I dressed, what I said and how I acted was all dependent on boys and because I had no respect for myself I did expect to get respect from guys. I will never claim that CD changed my life, I’m much too mature for that, but it did give me a different perspective of how I should be treated. My favourite song was ‘The Very Thought of You”. I knew the song because it was sung by all the greats – Bing Crosby, Billie Holiday, Frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole etc – but I never really paid attention to what the words of the song Β was.

The mere idea of you, the longing here for you
You’ll never know how slow the moments go till I’m near to you
I see your face in every flower
Your eyes in stars above
It’s just the thought of you
The very thought of you, my love

This was a foreign concept for me. Someone who liked me so much. When I Β had crushes I used to see ‘their face in every flower’ even though that’s extremely cliche and makes me cringe just thinking about it. When I first heard this song I easily passed it off as a myth, no boys think like this. That is when my father told me about his epic love that encompassed all his thoughts, when he was 17 years old – my awesome mother of course. The love that they still show each other is living proof that such a love does exist. For me as a teenage girl who got waaay too little attention from teenage boys this was an eye-opener. The fact that I now knew such a love exists was a game changer for me, from that moment I aimed not just to be complacent with somebody who just pays me attention but for someone whose attention I hold. I know I might wait forever but I kinda feel like it’s going to be worth it.

More about Caryn

Journalist, Reader, Dreamer, Fangirl, Defender of the Weak (and that's just my formal titles). I hope to one day take over the world or marry Tom Hiddleston.

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