So, let’s talk about music. I was inspired by a bit of a meme going around my friends on Facebook — “10 Albums That Influenced You In Your Teens”. First off, I can’t believe that I had to stop at only 10. Regardless, here were my choices:
Billy Joel “An Innocent Man”
Rick Springfield “Success Hasn’t Spoiled Me Yet”
Duran Duran “Duran Duran”
Spoons “Arias & Symphonies”
Roxy Music “Flesh and Blood”
Def Leppard “Pyromania”
The Beatles “Rubber Soul”
Culture Club “Colour By Numbers”
Elvis Costello “Punch The Clock”
David Bowie “Let’s Dance”
This was an *incredibly* hard list to make. When I was a kid, I listened to a lot of country music (real country…not the crap that’s out there now). My very first concert was Ronnie Milsap. I remember him coming out in a purple sequined suit, there were fire spurts going off during it and I recall a time when he danced on his piano (Milsap is blind if you aren’t familiar with him). I was impressed as hell but then, I was 7 years old at the time. The next day I wrote him a letter and a few weeks later I got an autographed photo and a very nice letter in the mail, both of which I still have. Disco was also incredibly popular when I was a kid. I listened to a lot of BeeGees and I had a huge crush on Andy Gibb and also on Shaun Cassidy. When Gibb died in 1988 when he was only 30, it was devastating. But those of us who came of age in the 80s saw a lot of talent die far too young. A topic for another time.
When it came to rock music around that time, The Beatles were a huge part of my pre-teen years as well. I was absolutely mad for their songs and for 60s music in general. And I don’t know anyone my age that wasn’t influence by Bowie for as long as they can remember.
I turned 10 at the beginning of the 80s and my teen years were dominated by the insane and incredibly experimental music of the time. Computers were just coming into music…and to all of our lives. I got my first Commodore 64 right around then. I remember having Monopoly on a tape drive – it took an hour to load so you’d come home from school and boot it up before dinner. I also remember buying books on coding and spending hours typing in 20+ pages of “go to” codes to make a ball change colour or bounce around the screen. Back then, you had to actually connect a phone to the modem to connect to the internet to used the bulletin boards that we all hung out in.
In 1982 I fell in love with my first rock ‘n’ roll crush. Rick Springfield. He played Noah Drake on General Hospital but when I was 12, he released “Success Hasn’t Spoiled Me Yet”. He was …gorgeous. And hearing his raspy singing voice coupled with his slightly risque lyrics (hey, I was 12) and his guitar-centric music made ‘my heart skip a beat’ (and you’ll know what that’s from if you call yourself a fan). His were the first fan posters to make their ways to my bedroom walls, but they wouldn’t be alone for long. In 1983 a show called “Good Rockin’ Tonight” started and my musical world changed overnight. Terry David Mulligan introduced us to some of the coolest music that wouldn’t make it’s way onto radio (and some that eventually would). Hearing songs for the first time like “Only You” by The Flying Pickets, “People Are People by Depeche Mode, “Dear God” by XTC or “Congo Toronto” by Robert Priest just grabbed me and never let go. Toronto Rocks and Muchmusic hit the air in 1984 and we got introduced to a whole range of Canadian and international stars both via music video and interviews.
That’s when bands like Duran Duran, Culture Club, Spoons and others entered the scene. Bands like Spoons, Martha & the Muffins, Rough Trade and Leonard Cohen were part of the Cancon revolution in the 80s with a vibrant Toronto music scene but I was massively influence by British bands too. No one had seen anything like Duran Duran or Culture Club at the time – the focused on the look in addition to the music. And they took the music video to places it had never gone before. Man, the hours that we listened to HoJo, Wham!, Glass Tiger, A-ha, Tears For Fears, The Go-gos…so much great music that just made you want to dance (or bands like Yes that released incredible songs with videos that emotionally scarred you for life). And the scandals! Duran Duran making “long editions” of their videos cast with naked women that could only be shown after 11pm or Queen doing a video where they cross-dressed were our bit of salacious fun.
The bands that influence them also became the stuff we loved – Roxy Music, The Clash, The Sex Pistols, Frank Black…that list could go on for ages. Our whole lives in the 80s revolved around the music and the crazy fashion that it brought on. I wish I still had my oversized pink neon sweatshirt, dammit. And no, I am NOT kidding. 🙂
If you aren’t familiar with a lot of these artists, you should check them out. It’s good to reflect on those songs that bring you back to moments that defined your life – we all have a soundtrack that runs through it.