With the Foundation for Saline Area Schools using the 80s as the theme for Snowblast, I spent way too much time thinking about 80s television shows, 80s movies and 80s pop music. I tried to think of 80s fashion, but was there such thing?
Anyway, I enjoy music - even if it's not always pop music. So here's the way 80s music evolved for me.
First album I ever bought. Can't remember the price, but I think it was over $10. Bought it at the Sentry department store on Dougall Road in Windsor.
In eighth grade my parents got me a "ghetto blaster" for Christmas. First cassette I bought was Def Leppard's Pyromania.
From Grades 5-7, I attended Begley Public School, which had a lot of families. Yet, I don't remember anything about rap or breakdancing. "Soul" or "Urban" music was all about Michael Jackson and Prince at the time. My family moved across town in Grade 8, and I attended Holy Rosary, which was a nearly all-white Catholic school. It was this year, 1983-84, if I had to guess, that I started hearing rap music. My friends Rob Renaud and Mike Kryznarich did their breakdancing stunts in our asphalt school yard at recess and lunch time. This was the first rap song I remember. They were good. But I kind of wish I got a chance to see my old friends at Begley do it.
At some point when I was a kid, I decided I liked songs more if they had funny videos. Weird Al. Men at Work. And Phil Collins. I also started watching Miami Vice. So more Phil Collins. How does a 14-year-old like this sappy, old man stuff? No idea.
A lot of my music choices were tied to top 40 radio and Casey Casem's America's Top 10. Every once in awhile, a good band made its way to the top.
But you don't experience great music with the radio. You experience it with friends. I grew up in a working class neighborhood where everyone wore rock t-shirts. But I wasn't a hair guy, myself. My buddy Frank Cipparrone had three older sisters who hung out with the preppies from the other side of the tracks - and they were listening to "alternative" bands like New Order. And that's kind of where everything got flipped around. 1987's Substance was a collection of singles - some of which were four and five years old - but I'd never heard them. It was all new to me.
Suddenly, a new world opened. Music was something you sought.
I remember summer nights, dancing around Taco Bell parking lots to songs like this:
Music wasn't just something you listened to. You read about it, too. That meant weekly trips downtown to Dr. Disc to see if the new edition of New Music Express or Melody Maker. They covered bands I'd never heard of like they were gods. I needed to know more.
One of the craziest things I ever saw at my high school (Walkerville Collegiate) was an air jam. I'm not even sure why I was at this event. It was pretty lame. But all of the sudden this kid Christian Sfalcin comes out, dressed in nothing but a loin cloth. He's got a skull on the end of a pike, and he's dancing around the stage like a maniac, making all the teachers nervous, I'm sure. I didn't see much of Christian around school after that performance. He didn't win the air jam. But it was all anyone talked about.
Around this time, I was working part-time at McDonalds. One of my friends was telling me how New Order rose from the ashes of another band called Joy Division, after their lead singer committed suicide.
Well, that sounded cool as hell. I wasn't big on Joy Division's morose stuff. But I dug the raw violence of their punk stuff.
It was around the end of the 80s that I started having lots of problems with parents about how loud I played my stereo. For me, the louder the better.
My buddy, Wendel, used to crank up the Beastie Boys whenever his parents left him alone in the house. I thought "Fight for Your Right" was stupid. It wasn't until the 90s that I started to like the Beasties.
I'll always remember buddy Frank shaking his little Mazda hatchback to pieces his his $2,000 stereo system. "You hear that rattling in the engine? Better fix that with another speaker," he said one time.
As the 80s closed, I kept following the guitar feedback on to newer, louder, more adventurous bands. Which was cool, because I was hitting college around that time and learning about "college rock," or "indie rock." And in the late 80s, who did it better than Sonic Youth?
What better way to go into the 90s?