As a high school freshman, coming home in the evening after musical practices and rehearsals meant long hours behind closed bedroom doors. It meant sitting at my desk and hammering away at the next day’s homework, picking out a CD from the collection atop my desk shelf and playing it on my Bose stereo speakers.
Coming home meant endless nights of classic rock albums on repeat, rotating among the Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds, Bob Dylan’s Highway 61 Revisited, Pink Floyd’s Meddle and on and on.
Coming home meant typing away at my computer and working through math problems as guitar strums and deep beats and 15-year-old Anagha’s idea of “real music” played in the background.
Coming home meant indulging in my own tastes and interests. Yet coming home also meant the sounds of a rolling piano and angst-filled leading vocals permeating through the wooden door of the neighboring bedroom.
“Apoorva, are you seriously listening to the Fray?”
Growing up, my sister and I maintained strictly distinct tastes in music. Most of my adolescence was defined by a deep delve into music of the late-20th century, allowing myself to “discover” music that I considered to be the basis of pop culture as I knew it. I fell in love with classic rock — given the inherent cultural homogeneity of a small town in the Midwest, seeking solace in the art of the past provided teenage me with necessary sanctuary.
In a way, my sister’s music was also pop culture as she knew it, populated by current radio hits and tracks she heard in film and television. Her iTunes library consisted of the likes of Justin Bieber, Ariana Grande and songs that came straight from the soundtrack of “Grey’s Anatomy” — an eclectic mix, sure, but nothing atypical for a 12-year-old girl.
Our differences in music taste were emblematic of our dynamic: Our gap wasn’t just created by age (a mere four years) — it embodied what I took to be a fundamental difference in our personalities. I spent several evenings barging through her room and scoffing at her for her taste in music, which inevitably led to her yelling back at my constant judgement. I, insulted by her lack of acceptance, proceeded to yell back — and thus the cycle continued.
A small scuffle over a song choice on road trips would somehow always end up with both of us in tears. I called her out for her conformity and unwillingness to “enlighten herself” with a more well-rounded taste in music, while she confronted my constant need to control her decisions and impose my own preferences onto hers. Suddenly, the argument wasn’t just over our choice of songs — it was about our passions, our friends, our responsibilities.
Our relationship was a ticking time bomb. Every moment that started out innocently enough would erupt into angry confrontations, filled with shrieks and sobs. Eventually, we mutually decided to limit our interactions for the sake of maintaining a degree of peace in the household. For nearly a year, our relationship was filled with distance — sharing the same space, but rarely interacting with each other.
It was on a similar evening home that the rolling piano coming through the wooden door next to mine sounded a bit different.
“Apoorva, are you listening to ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’?”
Little by little, I noticed her incorporating older music into her playlists, while still listening to pop hits. Occasionally, I heard a different mix of music coming through the wooden door — guitar strums from the Beatles to Led Zeppelin and the Rolling Stones.
I realized that my sister’s music preferences weren’t uncomplicated or conformist — they were evolving, as were mine. She was incorporating new music into her playlist each day while finding an appreciation for music of the past on her own, with hardly any help from me. If anything, I hindered how long it took her to listen to “my” music with my constant demeaning remarks.
Over this past winter break, I made my recently licensed sister take me on a drive through our town to look at neighborhood Christmas lights. I was in charge of the music.
Smiling, I scrolled through my iTunes library before finding exactly what I was looking for. “This is such a good song!” I exclaimed. As the piano rolled in and the lyrics began, I sang along. Excited to the point of obnoxiousness, I blasted the Fray’s “You Found Me.”
Apoorva started laughing. “Are you kidding me right now?” she asked.
The moment was sweet and brief, lasting only the length of the song. But it was filled with warmth. Today, there’s never a guarantee that our small arguments won’t lead to dramatic confrontations and days of not talking to each other, but it’s moments like these that remind us both that we are evolving — together.
My sister’s iTunes library now largely consists of a mix of modern genres colored with the occasional classic rock song. Mine is a similar mix of classic rock colored with the occasional Ariana Grande and the Fray.
Despite our “inherent” differences, we trade song suggestions quite frequently — our music libraries are a lot more similar now than they are different. Maybe someday we’ll get to the point of sharing playlists — just maybe.
“Cutting Room Floor” columns are one-off, arts-oriented pieces written by Daily Cal staff members.
Anagha Komaragiri covers film. Contact her at [email protected].