I recently dusted off some old cassette tapes from singers and music groups who were popular in the 1980’s. Why oh why would he do that? Dear Reader, you may be asking yourself that question. Very simply, I am now driving to work in our newly purchased Korean automobile manufactured in the mid-1990’s, and it does not have a CD player, just a lowly tape player and a radio dial. The radio spectrum in Seoul is middling at best. It features one Armed Forces Network (AFN) channel that rotates formats every few hours. In the morning the music is R&B, pop, and hip hop. In the afternoon, the format changes to country music, and in the evening, hard rock and metal take over the airwave. The Korean radio channels are decent, although I am not a fan of Korean pop music. Too many Korean radio stations are inundated with talk radio and long commercial sets–not too different from what you find in the United States.
With the radio selection a bit meager, I decided to locate my old cassette tapes so I can have something else to listen to on my way to work. My CD collection dates back to 1990, when CDs first appeared, and my tape collection ends around 1989. I played a few of the tapes, and they brought back many (mostly good) memories. Some are still timeless classics, such as Dire Straits’ "Brothers In Arms," and some should be relegated to the trash heap of history, such as Winger. (Who could forget the scandalous song, "She’s Only Seventeen"? I hear that Kip Winger has improved a bit as a solo artist.) My musical tastes have definitely changed since the 1980’s! I had to laugh at some of the crap I used to listen to when I was younger. Of course, I didn’t think it wasn’t crap at the time (OK, maybe it’s always been crap). I blame it on the recording companies, radio stations, and music stores, who all conned naive consumers such as myself into buying terrible albums based on the attraction of one decent song receiving radio airplay. Maybe I’ve become an old fuddy duddy when it comes to music. I still haven’t migrated to listening to classical music and opera, although I’m not a big fan of today’s popular music. I guess I’m stuck in a folksy, music limbo, like a glam rocker who went into retirement, waiting for the day when big hair, spandex, heavy makeup, and drum pads are again fashionable (that would be…never).
When I played some of the songs, I recalled memories that reminded me of times passed. I played Bruce Hornsby and the Range’s "The Way It Is" album, a classic. (Bruce Hornsby went on to become keyboardist for The Grateful Dead before Jerry Garcia died, so even if you’re not a Bruce Hornsby fan, you have to admire him for that. He is now an accomplished jazz musician.) I played the song "Every Little Kiss," a song that hearkened back to western U.S. expansion in the late 1800’s, and it reminded me of when I would sit in my room with the headphones on, trying to match Bruce Hornsby’s baritone voice, reading a 400-page novel in one sitting, wondering when I would get a kiss of my own (oh, about five years later). Music by an obscure Canadian band called Frozen Ghost reminded me of my first trip abroad, when I went on a summer relief mission to San Luis Rio Colorado, Mexico. Their song, "Should I See," briefly received airplay on MTV, and I liked it so much I bought the tape. I wore the tape out listening to it during virtually the entire ride to Mexico. After that, I put it away and didn’t listen to it again until a few days ago. (You have to be careful not to overplay albums, or they’ll make you sick.)
I’m sure you have songs that jog your memory when you hear them. Maybe you hear them piped into an elevator or at a department store, or by happenstance when you move the radio dial. That’s the joy of music. It’s not only entertainment. It’s a part of your life.
Blog Notes: I was premature when I wrote in my last entry that our community association is close to signing a contract with a new coffee shop vendor. The potential vendor, a franchiser, found out that the corporate parent is mandating that they remodel the space in the corporate image, which will take a lot of effort and investment. The vendor is obviously hesitant, and the deal may collapse. I asked our general manager to encourage them to negotiate with the corporate parent to scale down the remodel and that we would be willing to sign a multi-year deal to help them recoup their investment. As is far too common with the community association, nothing ever comes easy. I wrote too soon.
…but, the cafeteria will be opening in January!