Tag Archives: growing up in the ’80’s

5 Amazing Songs

As per request (and writing prompt) from one of my dear readers and a fellow music devouter, I’d like to share 5 amazing songs that build up emotion in my chest, take me to happy and far away places, or just leave me whirlishly dancing on the chipped-tiled kitchen floor.

Don’t You Forget About Me by Simple Minds

This song of course is married to the ever-universal teen angst classic The Breakfast Club, making it even that much more endearing. That last scene when the song smacks in and John Bender gives a requited fist pump in a freeze frame forever is one of the best movie endings.

Don’t You Forget About Me reminds me of precious 80’s nostalgia, the innocence and simplicity there regarding music and hand-written letters and Walkmans and trips to the mall sans security personnel.

And the meaning: Don’t you forget about me. We all want to be remembered. We cannot let time or circumstance or distance allow the brain to turn us into static and the heart unforgiving or worse, ignored.

This one is for belting out fearlessly and dancing feverishly.  My students have seen me do this. On my fortieth birthday this is the song I boldly requested at the skating rink among all the preteens and their Taylor Swift enthusiasm. I’ll be singing and dancing to this one when I’m an old, old lady.

Don’t you forget about me. I’ll be alone, dancing, you know it, baby…

 

Us and Them by Pink Floyd

I listened to The Dark Side of the Moon on a constant loop along with The Cure’s Disintegration on a summer stint in Italy in my early teens. I know Roger Waters was talking about war in his lyrics but to me the “us” and “them” represented both the subtle and not-so-subtle differences I experienced between Americans and Italians. We spoke different languages, ate at different times of the day, looked different, but in the way we were different we were also the same. Just people trying to make it in the world, experience life, try not to trip on pebbles.

To this day, every time I hear that keyboard intro I feel the welling up in my chest. I am completely transported back to that balcony in Sardinia, back to that innocent 15 year old taking in everything never witnessed back in Antioch, Tennessee. I’m reminded of all the people I met and their cultural and nurturing influence on me.

Us, and them. And after all, we’re only ordinary men…

 

The Fool on the Hill by The Beatles

The Beatles were a big part of my growing up. They were not forced on me but rather gently introduced as my parent’s record collections included many Beatles albums and 45s. My brother and I would sit on the shaggy carpeted floor of our basement-turned-playroom and listen to them on our Fisher-price turntable. We fashioned ourselves as rock singers, belting out tunes as the grated vinyl spun round and round.

But when Fool on the Hill rolled along and into the tiny speaker, we would quietly sing together. Never looking up, frozen in that moment with lyrics and melody I swear brought welling up in my goofy sibling’s eyes.

That is one of my strongest and most fond memories of us together as children. Later in our teens we traveled to Lexington, Kentucky with a group of like-minded friends to see Paul McCartney in concert. I was enthralled to be in the presence of a Great. And to enjoy it with my bro at my side.

But the fool on the hill, sees the sun going down, and the eyes in his head, see the world spinning round…

 

A Forest by The Cure

This haunting song is one of the reasons I will forever be a Cure fan and Classic Alternative junkie. I was first introduced to the Cure when Kiss Me Kiss Me Kiss Me came out. During this era I was blown away by this sound which at the time never reached the local radio airwaves.

A Forest mirrored my teen angst, depression, and need for creative inspiration as sheets of rain seemed to fall endlessly in the grey, Tennessee winter. This dirge didn’t exasperate my feelings as my parents agonized. Instead it encapsulated and provided solace. I wasn’t alone in my fervor.

And just the word forest. It conjures images of lush foliage where mystery hides and escape is possible.

A few summers ago I was driving alone in North Florida on a windy road away from friends and family with whom I’d just spent an unforgettable week. As soon as I entered Tate’s Hell State Forest, an unforgiving ominous expanse of swampy woodland, my GPS fell silent and A Forest shuffled on my auxiliary. I don’t know if there’s ever been more perfect timing between song and circumstance.

Come closer and see, see into the trees…

 

The Dead Heart by Midnight Oil

I could write an entire blog post about songs by Midnight Oil but for the purpose of not turning this into a biography I’ll sample this one.

I was introduced to Midnight Oil via the video for Bed’s Are Burning, seen on MTV’s Friday Night Videos. This unique sound from Australia fronted by a bald, passionate giant literally left me gasping in its strum guitar and water tank drum beats. I was instantly transformed. Life would never be the same. And then began a life-long love and adoration for the band, their extensive collection of songs throughout the decades, and their messages about equality and the environment.

The Dead Heart evokes singing and whirling, and to the tune of aboriginal rights in Australia. It’s as serious as it is heartfelt and in the end a hopeful dance. The Oils do a fantastic job of informing while entertaining and this song is no exception. When I hear it I’m in the Outback as well as on my old friend’s balcony (what’s with me and balconies) back in ’87 when all this alternative rock hoopla began voluntarily infiltrating my soul.

Midnight Oil will forever be my favorite band of all time. And The Dead Heart is just one of many that fill me with emotion, the need to research, to help bring about change, and yes, to belt it out and move.

These 5 songs helped shape who I am. What are yours?

 

 

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As it Exists in our Minds

They say you can’t go back. Or perhaps you shouldn’t. But sometimes it’s inevitable.

Steely Dan Radio on Pandora. That’ll do it for me. A tinge of past immediately starts flowing through the neurons and blood stream. Back to childhood days in my dad’s mustard El Camino or hunched over the Fischer-Price record player with my brother.  Back to teenage days, cycling through songs on random play from the new CD player. Back to college days, blasting out the sub woofers in my ’87 Nissan Sentra. And about a hundred other memories involving a Steely Dan song.

Whether you want it to or not, music will take you back.

There are those songs you can’t bear to hear. Either they bring back a dark memory or someone you’d rather not keep in your consciousness. Those we turn off as soon as we can, if possible. Or perhaps we need a good cry out and we let it rip.

Then there are those songs that fire up our frontal lobe like fourth of July sparklers and we are transported to a time and place no longer existing. Even if our childhood homes are still intact, or the city in which we grew up, it is never the same.

I guess that’s why they say you can never go back. Because no matter how bad we may want it to be there, it is gone.

And that is one of the many beauties of music– enabling us to hold onto a moment as if we were right there. Right there in our dad’s old car. Right there on the front porch with the Walk-man. Right there in the school parking lot with our quirky friends. Right there dancing with Grandma. Or and old friend. Or an old flame. Those that have moved on or passed away. In this moment they are alive.

And this is why I play Steely Dan on Sunday morning. So I won’t forget.

El Camino

 

 

 

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When I was Ten

I remember snippets and chunks of my childhood. Mostly because my mom has the bulk of it archived in 70’s and 80’s faded photographs.

I look at my son sometimes and think, God it would be great to be a kid again. Would if I were you right now. I also say this to my dog when she’s lying around snoozing and I’m running around like a chicken with its head cut off.

But really, wouldn’t it be fantastic to be a kid again for a day? Especially a kid like my son who lives in a safe place, surrounded by friends and parks and beaches and the invention of some really kick-ass nerf guns?

Or come back as myself, time-warped back to the 80’s, where my playroom smelled of chalk, encyclopedias, and Strawberry Shortcake farts. Where there was no worry about diets or jobs or bills or relationships. It was all, how are we going to keep our bed-sheet tent from falling on top of my 8×10 glossy of Noah Hathaway from The Neverending Story? Or ouch this hose water is hot but we’ll drink it anyway. And oh crap the streetlights just came on, better run home before the pot roast gets cold and we hear Mom screaming our names in that annoyed sing-songy way.

Not that childhood doesn’t have its share of problems, but come on, wouldn’t you love to trade a hectic day, or even a melancholy crap adult day to run in the sprinklers and smell the honeysuckle without the nagging worry of time or sunscreen or disappointment?

My son is at school today. And that is definitely not a place I long to be. I have lots of work to do. But maybe I can sneak away for an hour, go to the beach. Splash in the water and smell the sea air. Wearing sunscreen, of course.

Anyone wanna join me?

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That’s My Jam

I have satellite radio in my car. It is one of the best inventions of our time. You can cruise to about any genre of music you’re in the mood for. No commercials. Even news (bleh), comedy, live concerts, and interviews. No commercials!

Today I was running errands under a cloudy sky when Led Zeppelin’s Stairway to Heaven bounded from The Bridge and out of my kick-ass Prius factory speakers. Yes, despite that I named my car “the Blue Vagina” the sound system really kicks ass.

Listening to Stairway’s melody on a sunless morning reminded me of my mom and days when we drove thirty miles to her parent’s house for a visit. That trek from Nashville to Murfreesboro was flat like these Florida streets. Except in my memory those Tennessee trees were barren of leaves. I looked out of the passenger window as a teen and caught a glimpse of the train track running parallel to the monotonous roadside. Sometimes a train would slowly lurch forward, never quite keeping the car’s pace. Most of the time the tracks were empty. But the flashes of naked-limbed oaks and maples blurred by as if they were a locomotive. And many times a Zeppelin song would resound from Nashville’s premier classic rock station. Mom has said Stairway is her favorite.

When I hear a Doobie Brother’s song, which sometimes plays from the satellite radio and sometimes from my phone or TV on Pandora (another fabulous invention) I think of my dad. I always have this vision of him washing his rust-colored El Camino in the driveway of the first house I really remember. I must have been four or five. Don’t know why this one instance has stayed with me so long. I can even see his dark blue jeans, slightly flared as the bell-bottom style was hanging on for its last days of glory. He had a Burgundy mustache. He sudsed the car with military precision. Later I would come to despise this meticulous way of washing the car. But damn if his cars never bore a water spot post-dry.

Thank God my parents introduced good music to me and my brother. When we weren’t listening to it in the El Camino or the Minivan we were in the basement scouring their old 45s. My love for the Beatles flourished early. Doobies, Zeppelin, New Wave and Alternative rock were to follow.

Remember the Walkman? I distinctly remember pacing my driveway with it, waiting for the DJ to play Karma Chameleon. And when it finally leapt through the headphones I was completely ecstatic in my knee-highs. “They’re playing my song!”

Now with iPods and whatnot we don’t have to wait all day. We can listen to any song any time we want. And this is a great invention, too.

But there is something to be said for having your jam played just at the right moment when you don’t expect it. That’s how it was when I heard Stairway. A happy surprise mirroring my now life with my past.

Music reminds us of people, places we’ve been, seasons, eras. It’s the soundtrack we drive to as the scenery passes by like a long train runnin.

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Sunshine on a Rainy Day

sunshineaward

Wow, this is one of  two awards bestowed to me by another blogger.  Thank you, Samara.  It’s a rainy day over here in usual sunny Florida, so these golden rays of accolades are keeping me all warm and fuzzy (the good kind, not the kind where you need to shave).  Samara is the creator of A Buick in the Land of Lexus, one of my favorite blogs.  I get excited when I open my reader, whether it’s over coffee in the a.m. or snug under the covers in the p.m. and see that she has posted something.  There’s sure to be at least a half dozen laugh-out-loud moments as well as gritty insights into her world as a dedicated Mom with a wild ride of a past.  I am in awe of her way with words and her all-out ballsyness to put herself out there, virtually naked.

So in accepting this award, I must follow a few rules.  The first is to list 11 random factoids about myself.  Here goes…

1)  I like my cereal soggy and my oatmeal lumpy.

2)  One summer my brother and I watched The Goonies every single day.  One day we watched it twice.

3)  I’ve had a major crush on Keanu Reeves since 1988.

4)  It takes me an entire day to pack for a trip.

5)  I once sat next to the Italian prime minister’s family at a bonfire in the Australian outback.

6)  I saw Titanic twelve times when it came out at the theatre, each time accompanied by different people, and each time I bawled like a baby.

7)  I cannot curl my tongue but I can flare my nostrils to any tune.

8)  My favorite band of all time is Midnight Oil.  I got to meet the lead singer Peter Garrett and shake his hand.

9)  I hate math.

10)  I used to forge parent signatures in middle school.  And probably some in high school, too.

11)  I can’t win an arm-wrestling match but I gave birth to my 8 lb son in the water with no drugs.

Now another rule I must follow is to answer 11 questions Samara has asked me:

What is the first thing you do as soon as you wake up in the morning?  Turn off the white noise machine.

What is your greatest fear?  To be trapped in an insane mind for eternity.

Do you have a new years resolution for 2014?  Keep looking at the world in wonder instead of worry.  

What is your favorite song at the moment? It’s a toss-up between “Atmosphere” by Kaskade and “Reflektor” by Arcade Fire.

What is your favorite childhood memory? Oh wow, so many.  Probably snow sledding with my brother at night.  The street lights had this bluish hue while the fat snowflakes fell and we screamed in sheer joy as we skidded down the steep street across from our house.  We weren’t usually allowed to play outside after dark, so it was doubly intoxicating.  I don’t think I got cold as a kid.  Now I shiver if it gets below 70.

Facebook or Twitter?  I’ve never tweeted but I do FB.  I usually check it when I’m on the john.  TMI?

What did the last text message you received say?  “I decided to add some color to our lanai.  We were out in the rain all day running errands. Now comes actually doing the tasks.  Not so much fun.” (smiley face with tongue sticking out).  I love that my mom can text now. 

What bugs you the most?  Complaining.  And not the casual, light complaining that you wish it would stop raining.  The rude, I-have-seen/done-this-better complaining.  And especially the I-should-be-grateful-to-have-food-in-my-belly-but-I’m-gonna-bitch-about-how-this-ethnic-food-does-not-taste-like-its-country-of-origin complaining.  We are not in Mexico.  We are not in Italy.  Eat your freaking taco.

What do you consider to be the most important appliance in your house?  The air conditioner.  It’s Florida!  And I have night sweats.  

If you could have one song that would play whenever you entered a room, what would it be? “Don’t You (Forget About Me)” by Simple Minds.

What’s your favorite movie quote?  Oh there are soooo many.  But this is the one I keep thinking about lately. Pretty in Pink “I just want them to know that they didn’t break me.”  Molly Ringwald as Andie talking to her dad in Pretty in Pink.  

Now I am to nominate 11 bloggers I would like to recognize for the Sunshine Award.  There are so many wonderful bloggers out there but these have definitely brought sunshine through their words and stories:  The Surfing Pizza, Phoenix Flights, Sophie’s Pug Pause, Crossroads, Vampire Maman, MONOCHROME JUNKIE, The Blogging Mama, Steve Says, who could know then, My Kaleidoscope, and No, You Go Outside.  They have to answer the same questions I did.

I have to say that WordPress has brought me more pleasure that I could have imagined.  I love this blogging world, what it has done for my sanity and creativity, and the fellow writers that are on this journey with me.  Cheers to a beautiful 2014.


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