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I feel like I’m living in a really strange era of music right now. I also feel like I’m living in a really strange period in pop culture/time right now. The 80s are retro and I’m not that old, you know? I feel like so many things that happened when I was a kid are coming back around or something … basically, they are probably coming back to people who are a little older than I was then, but because I was so aware and precocious* at even 6, 8, 10 years old, it doesn’t matter. I still thought then like I do now and remember them like it was yesterday.
I was driving to a friend’s photography show a year or so ago and heard this song (I didn’t know the name) — Welcome To The Black Parade. Because of how the chorus kicked in, I knew it was a modern band that was probably popular with the kids. but as the song continued to progress, I just pulled back and heard all the guitars and whatnot, and I thought … this was our Poison, cause it was pretty metal. And what I mean by that is not “It was pretty metal,” as in fairly metal, but it was “pretty” metal, as in shiny metal. Fluffy. Wanker lite. When I was a kid, I thought that Poison and Winger and Cinderella and Warrant and all those bands were metal. They weren’t. They were pop. But I didn’t know that then. And that’s what this song is — pop. With lots of guitars and posturing.
As I continued home, I heard this song — Sweet Escape. Let me tell you. I had NO CLUE who this was. Not one single clue until I looked it up when I got home. I heard this one and I thought, this could have come straight out of 1985. Seriously. I would have been all over this song then. It would have been a Top 40 #1. I nearly fell down when I saw it was Gwen Stefani. (Sidenote: is she going to lose those harajuku girls or what?) It just seemed so unlike her. No bad girl here. Straight popalicious. Not a hard edge to be found. I guess it features Akon, but I didn’t catch any of that on the radio.
(I love that I can type “bad girl escape sweet” and “carry on marching band” into google and get the names of these two songs, and then go to you tube and find the videos.)
Then, as if i needed the 80’s deal sealed, they went into With or Without You, for an authentic 80s classic. It’s funny. There was so much different stuff on Top 40 radio back in the 80s, and the things that lasted are now our classic rock. This would be one of them, I suppose.
The whole night kicked off with hearing Johnny Mars back on the air for the first time in over five years, which was really a treat. What comes around goes around.
*To illustrate: I’ve always remembered that one of my favorite songs was Separate Lives, a song by Phil Collins with Marilyn Martin from the movie White Nights. Before you roll up with peals of hysterical laughter, let me at least tell the story. I always loved love songs and songs of romance and all that stuff. Whitney Houston, Phil Collins, Chicago featuring the lovely Peter Cetera, you name it, I was there.
But the reason I use “Separate Lives” to illustrate my point is this — “White Nights” came out in 1985. I was ELEVEN years old. Never kissed, much less had any sort of romantic relationship. Yet, I distinctly and VERY clearly remember loving that song and KNOWING what the words meant. Singing along with heartfelt emotion as Phil Collins sings: “ooh, so typical, love leads to isolation/so you build that wall (build that wall)/and you make it stronger…”
WHAT? How can an 11 yr. old comprehend that? But I loved the song and I loved the crescendos and the key change and the whole feel of it. That they were together and now apart, and how dare they look at each other like that now that they couldn’t have each other, but … maybe… someday, but for now, they’d go on living separate lives… and… CUT.
Wow. So dramatic and emotional for a pre-teen. Obviously worth pulling out the boombox to tape it on.
This originally appeared at Smussyolay in March ’07, but is still completely relevant 2 and a half years later.
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