So for some reason I’m on an eighties rut with music and rather than listen to the radio, I’ve been moving albums to MP3s and bringing those along instead. Thus for the first time since high school I’m listening to Cosmic Thing (The B-52′s) and Kick (INXS) — albums we’d owned, but I’m pretty sure disappeared somewhere between Cheney and California. I suppose that all music is slickly packaged and marketed but at the risk of sounding like the old man I’m becoming, it’s nothing like what I hear today, where auto-tune and plastic looks rule the airwaves. I’ve said before how useless it is to compare favorite music; my music and your music and their music are generally three overlapping sets for different, intensely personal reasons.
This last one I got — Kick — is in the rotation partly because of X and partly for 1987. At that point, we’d just started listening to modern music (when you’re a kid, you don’t get to control the radio; more, we didn’t have our own portable radios to tune out with) and Kick was the first time I’d heard anyone swear on a recording (there it is, bold as day on the first track, Guns in the Sky)). So every time I hear it I flash back to being twelve years old and hoping that my parents don’t notice we’ve just bought a noisy album with that yelled-out expletive and, later, knowing that they’re not overly fond of it, being 1987, twelve, and full of swaggering posture: yeah-that’s-right, whatcha-gonna-do? It doesn’t hurt there’s nary a hint of filler on Kick; I’m still staggered by the number of singles that came out of that one album and in comparison, the followup X suffers: we got that one too but soon buried it far down the rotation, as Kick was that much more fun.
There’s an episode of The Simpsons where the teachers go on strike and the parents hire adults to teach the children; the preschoolers get Professor Frink, who when asked by a child to relinquish a toy, utters the immortal “You wouldn’t enjoy it on as many levels as me!” Indeed, the music is like that: there’s no way I can adequately explain all that happened in 1987 in a way that makes sense. Twelve — which doesn’t seem so long ago but is — was filled with change between boy and teen, starting new challenges and the only thing I could control was the music, that soundtrack on the movie in my head.