The first song I ever loved is really lame. I would normally never discuss it with people but this format is supposed to be anonymous and only those in the know will be able to give me shit about it anyway. Furthermore, I think it’ll help me heal the wound of having such a whack song as the first I remember really liking.
The first song I remember really liking is “Hanging Tough” by New Kids on the Block and I must have been four or five as my mom remembers my brother being about 12. I don’t know if it was the music that originally brought me into the NKOTB or the time I got to spend with my brother and sister.
I don’t remember ever hanging out with my brother without being harassed up to this point except whilst watching NKOTB. I am sure he will dispute this now but it is how I remember it. We ended up being essentially best friends from about sixth grade on, but those first few years I remember being stuffed in my fair share of closets and perhaps even deserving a few due to my lifelong struggle with being a wiseass.
The fact is that this was a rare time when all three of the siblings hung out with each other at the same time. This may seem trivial but I honestly can’t remember very many times this happened afterwards since we now live on three different sides of the country.
In hindsight, what was my brother thinking? I distinctly remember him having pins and posters of the band all over his room. My sister gets a pass for being a pre-adolescent girl but what’s my brother’s excuse? Was he seeking identity or having a sexual identity crisis? I was a toddler so my blame is minimal, so what’s up with the Elder?
When the NKOTB specials were on the Disney Channel, a premium option like HBO in those days mind you, we would get our parents to buy us a few Tony’s frozen pizzas and my sister would make red Tropical Kool Aid that was basically a sugar delivery device. We would sit around the TV in a semi-circle and watch a solid two hours of what I now perceive as an extremely lame lip-synching, choreographed mess that helped launch the pop cheesiness of the 90’s like N’SYNC and Britney Spears.
“Hangin Tough” was what I thought at the age of four to be a badass tune. They struck tough poses, wore leather jackets and Donny Wahlberg actually looked tough to me back then. Hearing it now, I shudder at whatever my young naïve brain was deluding itself into thinking about this processed bubblegum crap, but I remember thinking “Man, these guys are badass”. The lyrics are nonsensical at a glance now, talking about putting people in a trance with a funky dance and such. They did seem tough to me at the time but in hindsight, that’s only because they kept repeating “hanging tough”. In actuality, none of these boys were tough and I am sure no one fell into a trance except young girls. I soon fell into the grunge music scene with skinny heroin addicts replacing Donny Wahlberg as people I thought were badass at a young age.
I will never forget the evenings spent with my brother and sister eating cardboard pizza, drinking fake juice and watching their entertainment equivalent on the brand new Disney channel. It seems like a lame thing to remember but I feel warm and slightly ill in a good way recalling these times. Oddly enough, my sister remained a fan of the band and recently saw them and told me they were “still awesome!” I highly dispute this claim but at least she kept the magical delusion going.