E is for “Everything But the Girl”
So, this post is about one of my favorite bands, but not really about them or their music. I wanted to write about how their music changed during their careers, and how that change affected me.
I first started listening to Everything But the Girl (EBTG for short) in 1984 while in high school, and they became one of my favorite bands. At that time, they were sort of jazzy, kind of new-wave… definitely not mainstream (at least in the US). I saw them perform live in 1986 when they were touring promoting their album “Baby, the Stars Shine Bright”. That album featured an orchestra and was very different from the previous. I still enjoyed it, though. The next couple albums were similar, kind of adult contemporary, but then with “Amplified Heart” they went a new direction, and then “Walking Wounded” and “Temperamental” were pretty much full-on electronic music.
That last shift was a major one, and it really sounded like a completely different band than the EBTG of the ’80s. I actually had a hard time processing that change. Not anything serious or traumatic, of course, but I had this notion that in order to be “true to yourself”, you couldn’t change like that. So, the new direction the duo took was, to me, not the true EBTG.
Maybe I was too young to realize that people change as they grow older and gain new experiences. I believed that your personality (or music in the case of EBTG) shouldn’t change, and if it did, you were selling out.
Later I read an interview with Tracey Thorn (singer from EBTG) and she said something like, “The person who sang on that album no longer exists. I am a different person. I cannot sing someone else’s songs.” I’m sure that is not the exact quote, perhaps not even close, but it is what I remember reacting to. It was a bold statement… and a bit shocking. How could she say those things about the songs that I love so much?
But now I am older, and I realize that people do change… I don’t have the exact same interests as I did when I was young… for instance, I was very into painting when I was in my teens and early 20s, and earned an Art Studio degree, but these days, I have very little interest in painting. That person who went to Art School is very different now. It was who I was at the time and I am happy I experienced that. I can’t imagine a different reality. But that person exists in the past.
I’ve also noticed that people I’ve known for a long time, who were previously so into certain things, have lost interest in those things. That’s natural and okay. No need to beat yourself up or feel guilty over evolving! (I admit feeling a little guilty when I was in my 30s that I did not paint anymore)
But isn’t it great that we can change? Wouldn’t it be terrible if we were stuck as the same person we were 20 years ago? Isn’t it best to simply accept and be happy with who are at the present moment? I believe the answer is “yes” to all three questions.