Tween Talk with Eugenia Tachie-Menson


“Where words fail, music speaks”

This expression has always left me smiling to make a song and dance (about something or someone). As a visual person, words conjure images for me; so this expression creates a scenery in a faraway town where a cultural troupe is dancing gracefully toward me in a manner that suggests something quite prodigal in appearance. I don’t know why though… May it be a sign that I need to visit with family in both my hometowns? Or maybe it has more to do with the fact that I do love to dance and sing.

I was first spotted as a talent (school talent, guys…stay with me!) when I was about 12 years old. My school needed a choir to perform during the festive 9 Lessons and Carols pageant, and my English teacher, Mrs. Abbam – who is alive and will be 95 this November – asked me to audition. I was nervous; the 3 streams of my class had gathered and were waiting for me – to fail, I thought.

I mustered courage and belted out the notes on the solfege notes – you know, doh-ray-me-fah-so… “Brava!!!!” Mrs. Abbam chortled with delight, clapping enthusiastically, and as if on cue, the whole class joined in too. It was the highlight of my year, I walked down the aisles of our church during the 9 Lessons and Carols pageant, robed in a blue and white flowy cotton gown, singing all my favourite Christmas songs. And I guess that was how my love for music was nurtured.

Have you realised how there’s a song for every phase of your life? Every situation in your life has a song that will see you through; in joy, sorrow, pain, loss, you name it – you will find a song. Music does a lot more for us than we realise. Imagine a party without music, a school programme without music, a national gathering without music (national anthem?), a long-distance trip with no music – sheesh! Unthinkable!! Babies can sleep to music, as can some adults too; it’s the calming effect that music has on the brain.

It really does help elevate one’s mood when driving; you’re a passenger for now and your experience will be different. The driver of a car on a journey from Accra to Kumasi couldn’t survive the trip without music – it’s not only unthinkable, but also unhealthy.

Before social media became a thing, before there were options for you to watch on TV, before TV screens were a thing in cars – commercial and private – music was the only ‘soundtrack to our lives’, so to speak. People would learn the lyrics of songs by recording them off radio or TV on to a cassette (please look it up on Google) and then painstakingly write down word for word what was heard. If you have access to Google today, you could never, ever relate to this pain being talked about here, take my word for it.

Just as there are songs that defined your younger days which when you hear today throw you back to your younger days (Justin Beiber’s BabyKaty Perry’s Roar, Daya’s Bad Girl, .Ariana Grande’s 7 Rings, Maroon 5’s Girls like You, BTS’ Fire and Ed Sheeren’s Shape of You…yes, I know them all too!) and could be described as the ‘classics’ of your younger years’ among your peers, there are many ‘classics’ from generations that transcend yours. Need proof? Here are a few.

  1. Michael Jackson’s Thriller– the 1982 album and then, the song!! It’s the all-time best-selling album…world…wide! The album won a record-breaking (then) 8 Grammys; the music video of Thriller made it very popular. It’s a very Halloween-themed song and the music video nails it completely, check both out
  2. Whitney Houston’s I Will Always Love You– though I prefer the buoyant I Wanna Dance with Somebody, this song was the soundtrack to her movie debut, Bodyguard. It topped and stayed on the music charts for fourteen weeks; and in 1992, was the longest-running single in history. Let me let you be the judge of both.
  3. Coolio’s Gangsta’s Paradise (feat. L.V) – the number 1 biggest-selling US song of 1995, and it won a Grammy. It was the theme song of the movie Dangerous Minds.
  4. TLC’s Waterfalls– earning two Grammys in 1995, WaterFalls was a song about social consciousness – probably why it was a hit.
  5. Brandy & Monica’s, The Boy is Mine– this song was the most anticipated by two of R&B’s youngest stars back then. It was the best-selling US song in 1998.
  6. Destiny’s Child’s Say My Name– While this wasn’t their first hit single, it enjoyed resounding success globally.

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