Everyone will ultimately have different life experiences, but there are people that may have similarities in the lives that they live. I feel that by living in a Hispanic household in the United States, I have been fortunate to be exposed to both Hispanic and American cultures and traditions. In the ethnography, "A Playlist to My Life," I wanted to use different song titles and artists to represent different aspects, relationships, and situations that I have had in my life and how both cultures are very prominent in it. I will illustrate some of the highlights of my life, in which I was able to learn and grow as a person and strengthen my relationships with others.
“Ya no quiero ver tanta babosada que no usamos en esta casa,” the short, curly haired woman said for everyone to hear. It was cleaning day in the Gonzalez household and my mom wanted my sister and I to clear out everything that we did not want or need any more. I remember placing aside some things to give away, when my sister came into my room carrying a few things in her hands. She said, “Hey do you want anything from here before I give them away?” Immediately I walked over to her, because when I was younger I thought that everything my sister owned was so cool and amazing. She was holding a few items, but I was only focused on the yellow CD Walkman she carried. I was so excited because I would always bother her to let me use it and I was shocked that she was giving it to me. When my sister left, I stopped my cleaning and plugged in my earphones. My sister had left in a Backstreet Boys CD in the walkman and I was excited to play it. I remember hitting play and watching the green and white disc spin to play their single, “Everybody.” This was one of my earliest memories of music entering my life.
Music has always played a large role in my life. There are certain songs that remind me of certain moments and achievements that have occurred, and others serve connections to relationships I have with others. Both of my parents are from El Salvador and they both have strong ties to their culture and country. Through them I have learned many aspects of myself that have allowed me to discover my identity and to be proud of it. With Spanish being my first language, I was able to communicate with my parents, but I was also able to better understand the music that they enjoyed listening to.
There was a period where my dad would drive me to school in the morning. We live on the Southside of Los Angeles and my school was located on the Eastside in Lincoln Heights. On the drive to school my dad would play the same CDs that he kept in the glove compartment and had them on rotation. Most of his CDs consisted of the music genre, Cumbia. Cumbia roots are a mix of black and indigenous backgrounds that was evolved in Colombia in the 1960s. It is a lively style of music that can make anyone get up and dance. El Salvador has taken inspiration from this style of music and have made their own creations. A Salvadoran group that I remember listening to were Los Hermanos Flores. Los Hermanos Flores are from El Salvador and are known for their cumbias. My dad would play their songs every morning without fail. The sounds of saxophones and trumpets would fill the car as soon as he had started it and as we waited to for the heater to turn on. We would listen to cumbias the entire car ride to school and I did not mind it. My dad would mention how the songs always brought a bit of happiness to him because of the upbeat tempo and how it reminded him of the fun times he had when he lived in El Salvador. I feel that by listening to Cumbia, it allowed me to be more connected to my dad and have appreciation for different types of music, especially cultural ones.
My mom would tell me of times that she would listen to Tina Turner on the radio when she was in El Salvador.
From a young age, I enjoyed watching movies. Any time that I was free from homework, I would always want to watch a movie. When I was younger, I went through a phase where I would watch the movie, Selena, and when it would finish, I would rewind it and see it again. I did this almost every other day. I remember watching this movie with my mom and how I would cry when Selena would sing, “Dreaming of You” because I knew what was to come. I feel like I learned a lot from Selena. She emphasized the importance of following your heart and taking chances. She was able to demonstrate that we should be compassionate and care for others as well as ourselves. My mom introduced me to Selena and showed me different songs that she had performed. Listening to Selena’s music reminds me of the times my mom would watch the movie with me, even after having seen it a million times before. I recognize that my mom loves and has a lot for care for me. I know that even through hardships, she wants the best for me.
There are certain songs that are tied to moments in my life that serve as a reminder of good times, and it is comforting listening to them and thinking back on those moments. Tina Turner’s “Proud Mary” is connected to two moments in my life. My mom has always had an appreciation for Tina Turner. She enjoyed the presence that the artist would have and the way that she would perform her music. My mom would tell me of times that she would listen to Tina Turner on the radio when she was in El Salvador. This song also reminds me of the time I would sit on the couch and watch Miss Congeniality with my sister. I think that my sister has been my biggest music influence. Everything that she played in the house; I would eventually develop a liking for. I would listen to Panic! at the Disco, Paramore, Green Day, and Asking Alexandria. At the time they had a different sound than the music they create now.. As do many artists over time, their sound began to change creating a new inspiration for the artist and the listener. My constant change of music taste would allow me to understand the different sounds that artists were exploring . Listening to my sister’s playlists helped me to listen to others’ music with an open mind. This became a positive for me because I was able to listen to new genres of music and add them to my music library.
Going to school, I felt that my music taste expanded, and I was open to new genres of music. I was able to connect with others when we had similar music tastes or similar favorite artists. I feel like the friends I made throughout the four years in high school introduced me to new artists and vice versa. In high school I was involved in a lot of school activities and clubs and so were my closest friends. A club my friends and I were a part of was the Ambassador Society, in which we would host Open Houses and would go to middle schools to be able to reach out to students and provide more information for them and their parents. When the club would want us to stay after school or come for an event over the weekend, I would be excited because I knew that my friends were going to be there, and I would not be doing it alone. A few of my favorite memories from the Ambassador Society were the in between breaks I spent with my friends. During the breaks, we would laugh, relax, and do homework together. We would always find an empty classroom and find space to work on any assignments or club related projects. When we would work on anything or walked around the school, we would all take turns playing music from our phones. I remember this one time when one of us played “Maniac” from the Flashdance soundtrack. We started to sing along and danced around, making us look like maniacs. After that song, we went through an entire playlist of songs from the eighties. Listening to eighties music, I was able to see how music has changed compared to the present but noticed that the topic of love continues to stay relevant. Now when I listen to certain songs, I think about the good memories my friends and I made in high school and everything I have learned from them.
I grew up in a Catholic household. My parents wanted me to obtain those beliefs and values in my own life and decided to send my sister and I to Catholic schools. My high school would hold these events called, “Praise Night.” Praise Night would be held once a month on a Friday evening and was led by my Biology teacher. Praise Night would include a lot of singing and would help us focus on important aspects of our lives. In the beginning of my high school career I was never motivated to go, but I did during my sophomore year. The main reason I went was because my biology teacher would give extra credit in his class for people that would attend. If it were not for that, I would have never gone. I decided to go with a couple of my friends that were going as well so we could all experience it together. We walked up the stairs of an old convent that was no longer in use, which would have felt eerie if it were not for the people that came to the event and filled the hallways. I remember walking into the chapel and seeing a drum set, a keyboard, and two people playing guitars in the front of the room. I was not expecting to hear live music, but then again, I had no idea what was about happen before me. Before this, I believed that it was mass but at night. I was wrong. As the event started people sang along to the songs and read the lyrics displayed through the projector. I felt joy due to the energy that everyone in the room was exerting. It was amazing. Suddenly, the beginning of a song sparked my interest. When it began, I heard a lot of sighs from the audience, and I did not understand why. “This next song is a Praise Night favorite called ‘Oceans,’ sing along if you would like,” my teacher said into the microphone before the students began to sing. As the song continued, I loved the lyrics that the song had. I resonated with it so much that I searched for it online on the car ride home.
After that, I tried to attend every Praise Night for the next two years. “Oceans” by Hillsong United was a song that I looked forward to when I attended Praise Night. Praise Night was a fun experience and I am glad that I was able to attend it with my some of my friends. Ever since I graduated, I had not thought about it. I still listen to Oceans and I feel that I listen to it when I am going through a difficult situation. I feel like the song is so calming and soft that it allows me to focus on what is bothering me and focus on my own emotions to help me work through them. The song alone is personal, and it is evident by the emotions of the artist that are felt when it is being heard.
Music in general is a huge part of my life. It had provided an escape and helps me focus. It brings me a lot of joy and reminds me of my life experiences. Those being good and bad. It is a part of my everyday life and it plays a big part on the relationships I have with other people. It has helped me through different types of situations and has allowed me to learn more about others. I have a great appreciation for the art and the passion that is emitted towards it. I never realized how much one song could remind me of high point in my life and make me feel the same emotions I felt from that day.
“Cumbia | The Rhythm of Colombia.” Discover Colombia RSS, discovercolombia.com/cumbia the-rhythm-of-colombia/.
Jurek, Thom, and Thom Jurek. “Los Hermanos Flores | Biography & History.” AllMusic, www.allmusic.com/artist/los-hermanos-flores-mn0000852786/biography.