Music Monday · Nostalgia

My 1990’s Soundtrack | Denis Storey


We’re excited to have guest blogger Denis Storey with us at The Nostalgia Diaries for our Music Monday post today. His story shows us how the music that defines the places and cultures in which we grow up can leave such lasting impressions on our musical tastes. I personally know all about how this works: when I was a young teenager living in Nashville, I became immersed in the world of country music and instantly fell in love with it—and I’ve been a fan ever since.

Check out Denis’ post and then let us know: How did your environment play a part in shaping your musical tastes? Perhaps it was by the type of music that was popular in your city? Or maybe you were influenced by your friends? Whatever the reason, we’d love to know—share your story with us in the comments!

My 1990’s Soundtrack | Denis Storey

Despite Fate dropping me right in the middle of the Midwest, I would grow up to be a product of opposing environments. I spent my childhood up a few streets away from a trailer park, but once I reached the fourth grade, Kansas City’s desegregation efforts bussed me into inner-city schools an hour away. At home, I blended in with a poor, racist majority. At school, I survived as the court jester minority.

As such, my musical tastes swung wildly as I felt the two worlds tearing at me. I grew up with rock ‘n’ roll-bands like the Eagles, REO Speedwagon and Styx. My older stepbrother had all the latest vinyl—and a black light. Motley Crue and Guns ’n Roses would come later.

Outside of my house, country music prevailed. It was all Merle Haggard, Kenny Rogers and Alabama. My neighborhood was all twang, steel guitar, and moaning.

But I also remember the first time I heard a rap song. It was 1985, in ROTC class. The teacher was late to class. A classmate right next to me opened his tattered duffel bag and pulled out a portable radio/cassette recorder. I’d soon realize this was called a boom box, or as my step-father referred to it, a ghetto blaster. He hit play, and Shawn Brown began performing “Rappin’ Duke,” a novelty rap song I’ll never forget, no matter how badly it’s aged. That song—or probably more precisely that style of delivery—changed me forever. I immediately fell in love with the unlikely marriage of samples and beats, the braggadocio, but most importantly, the storytelling.

I hungered for more. There was no outlet for this music at home. No radio station played rap in 1980s Middle America. It was all country, folk, or what I called freedom rock. So I had to chase mix tapes, until I was able to buy my first real hip hop cassettes from artists like LL Cool J, Run-DMC and the Beastie Boys.

By the time I got to college, hip hop’s golden age was in full swing, and while I listened to it constantly, my passion also drew me to what you might call afro-centric music choices. I discovered jazz late one night in 1993. John Coltrane’s “A Love Supreme” floored me. Incidentally, I immediately felt guilty, considering how critical a role jazz played in the early years of my hometown. I embraced the blues, funk and old school soul music.

I reveal all this as a way to explain the eclectic nature of this list, although it is admittedly heavy on hip hop. I realize I slept through—or thumped over—the grunge and pop waves of music most people surfed at the time. But this music was more than just a soundtrack for a critical part of my life; it was—and still is—one of my earliest and deepest connections to my adopted community.

1) A Love Supreme – John Coltrane 

2) (You Gotta) Fight For Your Right (To Party) – Beastie Boys

3) Walk This Way – Run-DMC

4) Family Tradition – Hank Williams, Jr.

5) Boyz In The Hood – Easy E

6) Fight the Power – Public Enemy

7) I’m Bad – LL Cool J

8) Nothin’ But a G Thang – Dr. Dre

9) Gin and Juice – Snoop Dogg

* * *

20645_251683506764_1525050_nAbout Denis

Born in Hawaii and raised in Kansas City, Denis Storey came to Denver in 1998 for a job at a daily newspaper and never left. Storey has spent his entire career covering health care, health care reform, health insurance, employee benefits, human resources and retirement planning, He’s written for print, broadcast, and digital media. (And man, there’s nothing like a good glamour shot from the ’90s, is there?)

Want to submit your own song or playlist to be featured on a Music Monday post? Email us today! We can’t wait to hear your own nostalgia-inducing tunes.


At The Nostalgia Diaries, our goal is to help you simplify, enhance, and engage your lives by focusing on the most important things: remembering, appreciating, believing, and becoming. It’s all about celebrating the past to create better days today.


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20 thoughts on “My 1990’s Soundtrack | Denis Storey

  1. Opposing environments on the outside, definitely! But country music and rap/hip-hop have a lot in common too. Stories of deep, specific, personal trauma and tragedy. It’s why so many people can connect to the two genres!

  2. I agree with what Divya said up above, rap and country music are two genres that are actually not all that dissimilar. And I think they both get a bad “rap” ha, when some of both have some really great artists releasing some pretty good stuff!

  3. It’s interesting how the music we grew up with can come back around full swing in our lives. I remember despising all the country music that my parents listened to and now I am a country music fanatic, and I especially love going to country music concerts. Miranda Lambert is up next, September in Kelowna BC!

  4. I’m always so curious to hear why people with such eclectic musical tastes like what they like. This was so interesting to read!

  5. Rock and Roll was what I grew up on, now it is country music. Can’t do the rap to much hate and violence. Some wonderful memories when I hear an old song.

  6. I feel like I know these songs, but don’t recognize the title? xD the 90’s was a radio time for me, so that’s probably why xD but thanks for sharing!!

  7. Great song list! 90’s music was the best. 90’s R&B is still one of my favorite stations on Pandora.

  8. Yes! I love this list! I often find myself drifting back towards the music of the 90s when I’m in the car. It just makes me smile!

  9. This was such a great list! I’m a big fan of the Beastie Boys. Fight for your Right is def in my top five. The 90s was such an awesome time for music. Thanks for this trip down memory lane.

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