I first came across Jason Mraz back in 2002, when I was 15. Specifically, I was directed towards him by fashion blogger Gemma Cartwright, who ran the original version of Catwalk Queen as her personal blog at the time. She raved about him and mentioned a few of his songs. Being young and impressionable, I went and….ummm…’acquired’ some of his music and was immediately hooked.
Previously, most of my musical taste was formed by Smash Hits, Top of the Pops Magazine and the Pepsi Chart. So, basically, super poppy and whatever was most popular at the time. Being a fan of pop and listening to mainstream music has never been a bad thing in my book (as far as I’m concerned, pop music is AWESOME) but I had just hit the age where I was starting to form my own taste and opinions. Jason Mraz sounded totally new and alien to my ears. That laid back, California sunshine-infused, acoustic driven style wasn’t something I’d really come across before. I fell in love with his music and put Waiting for my Rocket… on my birthday list. My mum had to go through several music shops to find it, eventually asking a staff member at HMV, who had to look it up, then dig it out from the back store room (Thank you for the dedication, Mum!) How things have changed! Now, it’s pretty easy to find Jason Mraz albums in the pop section, but back then he was just starting out. This made me feel like I stumbled onto some sort of secret, which teenagers love to do. No doubt he was better known in America, but we were still catching up here in the UK.
When I got the album, I remember I ran upstairs and listened to it straight through (does anyone still do that in the mp3 age?), lying on my bedroom floor, trying to picture the sort of landscape this stuff was coming from and (naturally) relating it as closely as I could to my own life. That album still conjures up vivid memories of being a teenager and trying to figure things out. It is inextricably linked with the friends I had, boys I liked and all the books and clothes and all the random stuff I was into at the time. It was the soundtrack to reading J17 magazine while painting my nails, to chatting on MSN Messenger (holla again, millenials!), to writing terrible poetry, to desperately scrambling to finish my GCSE coursework and (best of all) hanging out with my friends. This was the first album where I remember trying to understand all the emotions discussed and where I felt I could apply them to myself. I actually wrote portions of the lyrics out in my school diary, to really emphasize their deep importance to me:
Yeah, I was cool.
Waiting for my Rocket… was the first album I ever associated with an age and a feeling, and the first to be melded so deeply into the fabric of my life. Yeah, that’s kinda cheesy, but it’s true. Jason Mraz was the first artist I felt connected to (not in a scary, creeper way, but in a ‘that’s how I feel too!’ way) and this album has led me to continue listening to him for the past 12 years. He was the first person I really, really wanted to see live and the first gig I ever attended on my own. I’ve gone from watching him perform in a tiny club in Sheffield to filling the O2 arena, which is extremely cool.
Waiting for my Rocket… still means so much to me, even now. I relate to it differently as an adult and I think that’s what’s great about really good music – it changes with you. It still lifts my spirits, makes me feel summery and carefree and like life is full of wonder and possibility, exactly the same way it did the first time I heard it in full at 16.
I’m going to leave you with my favourite track from the album. Enjoy!
What albums meant something to you as a teenager? I’d love to know!