A few years ago I was introduced to Fluxblog’s annual survey of music and have absolutely loved it. I look forward to downloading every year. It is seriously one of my most favorite things. More recently I discovered that Fluxblog’s author, Matthew Perpetua, created music survey’s for each year of the 1980s. This year he is publishing surveys for each year of the 1990s.
I have been downloading the 80s survey’s year by year and savoring them one at a time, in order. It is like listening to the most epic mixed tape ever created. So many memories. I thought it might be fun to share some of the songs that jump out at me as I go through these.
He published the 80s surveys in reverse chronological order, starting with 1989. 1989 was an interesting year for me because it was the year I left Spokane for the first time and moved to New York. My world was opened up in so many ways, music being one of those ways.
I am currently working my way through the 1987 survey. 1987 was the year I graduated from high school, so quite a memorable year for me. So far I am finding the music from that year so cringe-worthy and cheesy. For example, the song, “(I’ve had) The Time Of My Life” came out. Debbie Gibson was popular. This morning on my walk to work I heard “Always” by Atlantic Starr. :shudders: Can you get diabetes from listening to music?
Juxtoposed next to this saccharine music are songs like Nitzer Ebb’s “Join In The Chant.”
I remember my first exposure to Nitzer Ebb. It was 1989 and I was living in New York. My nanny friends all went to a small theater to see a show. They were seeing someone that was relatively new to the music scene at the time: “Nine Inch Nails.” The song “Head Like A Hole” was playing in the clubs and we all loved it. I couldn’t go because I had to work that evening. I was so, so bummed. The next day my friends excitedly told me about the opening act, Nitzer Ebb and said that I HAD to listen to them because I would LOVE them. They were totally right. I completely fell head over heels for this band and this style of music. It was like nothing I had every heard. It was the opposite of the saccharine shit I was force fed on the radio in Spokane.
This is the memory I thought of when “Hearts and Minds” played on my iPhone on my walk to work this morning.
Write about your strongest memory of heart-pounding belly-twisting nervousness: what caused the adrenaline? Was it justified? How did you respond?
Sometimes fear grips me at the most inopportune time. In these moments I freeze, which is unfortunate. I had this reaction this past weekend when I was at a workshop and was suddenly face to face with my old friend, glossophobia (fear of public speaking). I was called upon to give an elevator speech. I waited to go and listened to others first. After hearing a few others I felt brave and stood up. I started speaking and started out well, but then I froze and I couldn’t finish. I sat down and felt completely deflated.
It reminded me of the time I was hiking with Rafael at Castle Rock in the Santa Cruz Mountains. We reached a point on the path where the trail on one side was a sheer drop down the side of the mountain. On the other side of the trail were cables one could hold on to to help them across the trail. I saw the cables and the cliff and said, “Fuck. No.” I sat there for a long time while Rafael talked me into crossing. He even demonstrated how safe it was by walking in the middle of the path and jumping up and down without the use of the cables. After several minutes of cheering me on, I finally gathered my courage and started across. Palms sweating profusely, I grabbed the cables and walked slowly. I got halfway across and the panic started. I froze. I couldn’t go any further. I cried because I just could not move and fear completely engulfed me. Rafael helped me across but, again, I was deflated. I felt bad for letting fear get the better of me.
My first day of kindergarten was the first time I would take a bus anywhere. The yellow bus picked me up right in front of my house. My mom reluctantly handed me off to the bus driver and away I went to school. The trip to school was fine. It was getting back home that was the problem. I didn’t know what to do. The bus driver drove and drove and drove as each child was delivered home. I ended up being the last person on the bus. I sat there, all alone and afraid. The bus driver asked me where I lived and I don’t remember what I told him. I remember being very afraid. I am sure I cried. Eventually we made our way back to my home where my mom was waiting for me. I am still not sure why this happened. I think I was too shy to tell the bus driver to stop.
I remember the snack that first day. I remember being give Cheez-its for the first time for my snack and describing them to my sister later on after I came home. I thought they were the most delicious and wonderful food I have ever eaten. I was fascinated by thier size and the tiniest hole in the middle of them.
I have a vague memory of playing Wallball and Four Square.
I remember feeling out of place. I remember being shy with the other kids.
My uncle lived in my grandparent’s old house. When we were there for his funeral we decided to meet at the house afterward because it might be the last time we see it again. The house will, sadly, have to go back to the bank. I decided to take photos while I was there with my Yashica Mat.
When we walked into the door I was hit with memories from when my grandparents lived there. It was the smell. It was a good smell! The house is made, solidly, of wood. There is wood paneling all over the place and it smells like cedar. It is amazing how powerful the sense of smell is. It totally and completely takes me back to my visits there.
Things hanging in the window. The curtains where there when my grandparents lived here.
This is a whole other house in the back yard that was originally on the property.
There she is, a little worse for wear.
Tell me how you first learned to read.
I am remembering the day I read a book the entire way through all by myself. It was the book, The Summerfolk by Doris Burn*. I was by myself and I seem to recall books on the floor all around me. The house was very quiet. Most of the family was out. I think it was after school in the afternoon. I remember being very engrossed in the story and the world around me seemed to disappear At the end of the book I closed it and realized I read the words all by myself. I remember how elated I felt! It was such an amazing feeling. It was the beginning of a whole new part of my life.
As I write this I am amazed at the detail I can recall during this event. I mentioned earlier that I have a hard time remembering certain things but those things that I do remember are with such stark clarity. I can almost take myself back to that moment.
Riding a bike was the same way. I was a little bit older than my friends by the time I was able to ride a bike; it didn’t click for me until I was in 2nd grade. It seems like my attempts at this ended in failure and I was more and more jealous of my friends when they gained this secret knowledge because it meant they were free to explore the farthest reaches of the neighboorhood. The day it clicked for me was a magic moment. Again, I was alone when this happened. It was in front of our house on our gravel street. It was a cloudy, chilly fall afternoon. After trying a few times it finally clicked for me and It was the most amazing feeling! I was so happy! I rode the shit out of that bike, too. All over the neighborhood.
*Doris Burn was an AMAZING children’s book illustrator. He medium was pen and ink and she drew intricate scenes of children doing interesting things. When I was little I would pore over the pages of her books for hours, looking at the illustrations. If you can get your hands on the 1969 edition of, “We Were Tired Of Living In A House” do it. That book is a reason why I learned to read so easily (and Richard Scarry played a part in that too. I heart Richard Scarry).