Last week John Scalzi posted a Crowded House song (over on his Whatever blog) that reminded me of multiple Split Enz albums stashed in storage the past 20+ years. I’d been meaning to unearth my hibernating collection, so launched operation album rescue to see if any of those oldies (but goodies) could be resuscitated.
Surprisingly, after 20+ years in storage the vinyl held up (only 2 lost to warped-album attrition.) My turntable did not fare so well (belt disintegrated) but my ‘80s stereo amplifier and speakers work like new. Zipped out to acquire a replacement turntable @ store (thankfully there was one in the very back.) At checkout, I asked the two young men if they remembered turntables? One looked at me like I crawled out from under a retro rock while the other quipped, “oh yes, my grandmother had one!”
Ahem. As I walked out with my new acquisition (feeling a bit old) I encountered a young student wearing an oversized t-shirt emblazoned with The Cure (a famous 1980s band.) She was amazed I knew who they were (uh, had all their music & saw them in concert in D.C. @ the 9:30 Club?) Then I was amazed when she told me how her dad had restored an old 1980s turntable system so she could play their albums “retro-authentic.”
This week it’s been like Christmas, with Virginia the DJ having fun amidst hundreds of albums. Some groups I had forgotten (completely) yet when I played the first measures, voila, time warp back to the angst of high school, university & that initial foray into the world of working professionals: the decade of the 1980s.
I found my first album acquisitions from waaaay back @ the Bandbox in Williamsburg: The Beatles, Soft Cell & Genesis. My eclectic collection grew from there with divergent influences. (Our high school senior class song was a tie: Pink Floyd’s “Comfortably Numb” and Prince’s “1999.”)
As a birthday pressie my sis took me to see The Police @ The Hampton Coliseum in 1980. Then in university so many great bands passed through. As a member of U-Union Student Activities committee, we all signed up to pour beer early on (from 7:00-9:00pm) then would get in free in time for the concert headliner. (This was before the drinking age bumped up to 21.)
After university I worked for a non-profit on Capitol Hill. One evening my big-salary-earning buddies called with a last-minute free ticket to see the Grateful Dead at RFK stadium. Picked up on the way, I was wearing a navy blue work suit with pumps whilst they were decked out in tie dyes of various hues (along with everyone else in the stadium.) Can you picture that? Virginia in navy blue threads at a Grateful Dead concert? No matter, we had heaps of fun.
Back to university. I really liked alternative music and dancing (masterly adept at slam dancing until a back injury curbed my abilities, along with a firm ‘no you may not’ from the doctor!) Music was such a big part of my life. When a professor gave an option to write (yet another) 20-page paper or compile an ABC book, creative me opted for an ABC book with a slight twist.
We had studied the original Grimm’s Fairy Tales (mostly grim tales shared with adults, not necessarily child-appropriate) so I created “The Modern Rocker’s Guide to the ABCs.”
I’ll never forget the first time I took my younger brother Dwight to Tower Records, a huge multilevel store with untold thousands of records near George Washington University in D.C. The classical section was larger than our entire record store in Williamsburg. We spent over five hours there (intense music perusal interrupted with several sustenance breaks.) I discovered many amazing artists in that big store.
Moving overseas in 1992 all my vinyl records went into storage hibernation. Some ‘80s groups I kept up with (& still do): Annie Lennox, U2, Stevie Wonder, Aaron Neville, Sting, Indigo Girls, Paul Simon, Peter Gabriel, James Taylor, REM, Squeeze (Jools Holland et all), Crowded House, Simple Minds (the list goes on & on.) Certain albums were such favs CDs were eventually acquired. For other groups this week’s rediscovery has been like a birthday party because I was so into them (Icehouse, The Stranglers, The The, a-ha, English Beat, The Fixx, Men Without Hats, General Public, Boomtown Rats, Echo and the Bunnymen, World Party, Waxing Poetics…)
Working overseas in conflict zones (& getting a little older) my music tastes evolved. Discovering Enya @ Tower Records, she became a favorite to calm frayed nerves (along with other slightly more mellow groups) while the Violent Femmes, Dead Kennedys & former slam dancing favs dropped off playlists.
Have to confess, some rediscoveries have been WEIRD (1980s weird, which is really weird) but the good stuff is so totally, like, amazingly, awesomely GREAT!
Music is the soundtrack of our lives – it’s been fun recovering memories and favorite melodies from the 1980s. (Now I just have to figure out how to use the USB cable to download these albums to my laptop to mix with more modern fare.)
Many more to play (& rediscover.) Virginia the DJ is having albums of fun!
grace, peace & 1980s ViNyL
Virginia : )
p.s. Signing off with a YouTube of a favorite song I ran to with my Walkman every day in college. Years later I astounded my nieces over lunch at the fancy Williamsburg Inn by launching into this early (anti-drug) rap song ‘White Lines’ from Grandmaster Melle Mel.