Concert photo. The timeline of my love for music. Casey Medlin

I don’t have a clear answer to the question “What kind of music do you listen to?”

A kid going to concerts

My love for music began when I was born. My mother, an avid country music fan, infused my childhood with Kenny Chesney, Alabama, Garth Brooks, Reba McEntire and Dolly Parton. The soundtrack to my pre-grade school life was the country greats.

My mom took me to see Alabama when I was just ten months old. By age five, I’d seen both Reba and Kenny in concert (both of which I surprisingly have conscious memories of), and by age 18, I’d seen all five of these country artists and dozens more. 

My mom and I made a habit out of attending every show we possibly could, soaking up the buzz of seeing an artist we knew and loved live and in the flesh and the incomparable state of feeling alive within a crowd of fans.

My music obsession and infatuation in my adult life is unsurprising.

Guitar Hero 3: Legends of Rock

Spinning around my living room with a janky faux guitar in my hands and a black top hat on my head, I wanted nothing more than to become Slash of Guns N’ Roses.

Seven-year-old me had discovered Guitar Hero. 

I remember the first time I ever played the game. I’d just gotten home from another long, stressful day of first grade, and I decided to boot up my Wii and give Guitar Hero a go. 

The first song I ever played was “Slow Ride” by Foghat. The more time I spent playing this game, the more I fell in love with classic rock. 

From Kiss to AC/DC to Guns N’ Roses, I’d fallen head-over-heels for a new genre of music. 

This newfound love added another layer to my juvenile music taste: now we had ‘80s-2000s country melded with ‘70s-’90s rock – this was a recipe for my very interesting, ever-evolving music preference.

Growing up with Taylor Swift

Growing up with Taylor Swift meant fantasizing about receiving the roses from a special someone in “Our Song,” being on the receiving end of the forbidden proposal in “Love Story,” and preemptively singing about heartbreak I couldn’t even begin to understand as I insisted I wasn’t waiting for a boy to swoop in on his “White Horse” and screamed about how he was just another “Picture to Burn.”

My childhood best friend and I saw Taylor on her Fearless tour, and wow was baby Casey’s world rocked. The costume changes were unlike anything I’d ever seen before, and I belted out every lyric as if I’d been alongside Taylor experiencing all her teenage romance and heartbreak and betrayal and memories she sang about. 

“Fifteen” played in the background as I entered adolescence, keeping her life lessons in mind.

As she transitioned from country to pop, I was transitioning from childhood to adolescence, and as I grew older I couldn’t help but picture myself in her scenarios yet again. “Welcome to New York,” moving to New York City and starting a new life after college. “Lover,” dancing with the love of my life in the glow of Christmas tree lights.

My admiration for Taylor Swift and fanaticism for everything she’s ever created is a defining aspect of my life and contributes to my multifaceted music taste.

The age of eyeliner and band t-shirts

Everyone knows with middle school comes social awkwardness and mental instability. What was my outlet, you might ask, that I channeled all my pubescent angst into, that kept me grounded and sane and from bursting into tears at any given moment? My Chemical Romance.

My Chemical Romance, the resurrected face of 2000s emo music, is the soundtrack to a massive chunk of my life. With Mychem came other bands, like Fall Out Boy, All Time Low, Panic! At The Disco, Twenty One Pilots, Pierce The Veil and Bring Me the Horizon. 

I was fortunate enough to see several of these bands in concert too, swearing my life was changed after each experience.

As a distraction from the incomparably horrendous experience that was middle school, I immersed myself in alternative and emo culture, even looking the part with eyeliner and fringe and dark clothing (as embarrassing as it might be to admit). These bands were huge comforters for me, and quite possibly the most influential in regard to shaping the kind of music I listen to.

The inevitable Hamilton phase

Becoming active in theatre in the beginning of high school, my Hamilton phase was inevitable.

The first play I ever worked on was Fiddler on the Roof, and I fell madly in love with everything about it: the set, the lighting, the intricacies of the story and how it was portrayed on stage, the catchy songs. 

My theatre obsession began in Anatevka with Tevye. It traveled to Oklahoma with Laurie, New York City with Jack Kelly and even to early America with Alexander Hamilton.

I’m a storyteller. I’ve always loved bringing my mind’s images to life through the written word, but seeing stories come to life on stage took it to a whole new level. 

The thematic and musical elements Lin-Manuel Miranda used to convey Hamilton’s story captivated me, as did singing and dancing on stage with my friends to “The Farmer and the Cowman” in Oklahoma. Broadway is, without a doubt, the soundtrack to my high school years.

Where I stand today

Today, I indulge primarily in alternative/punk/indie music, with the occasional Taylor Swift, Harry Styles or Lizzo phase mixed in.

I rarely encounter a genre of music I don’t enjoy, as long as it’s uplifting and encourages spreading kindness and love.

I’m a product of the music I’ve been raised on and the music I’ve discovered a passion for on my own. Of ‘90s country and classic rock. Of 2000s pop and emo music. Of Broadway musicals and Taylor Swift. 

I’ve made many failed attempts to curate playlists of my favorite songs of all time. To capture my all-time favorite songs is to journey through my whole life, each flashbulb memory and each formative experience. That will forever be a work in progress.

Check out some of my playlists on Spotify!

xo casey

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