The little influences

Whether you are aware of it or not, if you have an older sibling, you have probably been influenced in one way or another by this person. Growing up, even though my brother and I certainly fought and didn’t agree a lot of the time, I was influenced heavily by him in ways that I was not aware of at all until reflecting on it as an adult. My first music interests were most obviously influenced by him, as he was the one who exposed me first to tapes, then to CDs, then to mp3s, then to concerts on television and even live. When Ed was interested in Mariah Carey and Janet Jackson, so was I. Whatever CDs Ed bought in the ’90s, I listened to, as well.When Ed got into Shania Twain, I also followed him. And when he would play songs on repeat over and over again… even now, long after his passing, I still do the same thing when I get obsessed with a song. I just don’t openly tell anyone that. Except now, I don’t have to annoy anyone with the same song being played on repeat on the living room stereo; I just do it via my earbuds on my phone.

I was thinking about this a lot while reading The Meaning of Mariah Carey, and after as I got nostalgic for her music in the ’90s and 2000s, especially her live music, which I always thought was so powerful and tear-rendering. Ed was the reason I became so obsessed with everything about her: her personality, her music, her lyrics, her life. Even when Ed didn’t care for her music much after she released Butterfly and later albums from 1997 onward, he still cared. I knew it because he would still buy her albums, and he’d say they were “for me,” even though he still listened to them.

When Ed passed away seven years ago, my parents and I were trying to figure out what to do with all his belongings. Given that CDs are now obviously obsolete (do you even own a CD player anymore?!), I especially wasn’t sure what to do with all these albums… he had CDs. They filled up an entire shelf in the living room. And even if I may never listen to them again, even once, there was really no way I’d want to give up any of the Mariah Carey CD albums just for nostalgic reasons. So I told my dad to leave them all there and that, “I’ll figure it out.”

No, I still haven’t figured it out, even seven years later. I kind of just want them all to stay exactly where they are, just so that I can look back at that shelf and remember the time when he was healthier and a little happier, playing the music he loved that he got me hooked on, as well. I suppose in that way, when I listen to Mariah’s music, it ties me back to him and helps me remember his sweet, generous, loving self.

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