Nostalgia-Tinged Ramblings on (some of the) Entertainment of My Past

Occasionally I get on these musical tangents, where I think of some song from the past….and that takes me to YouTube to hear it….and then from there I see or think of another related song, and so listen to that one….and that takes me to another. And before I know it, I’m listening to an album that I used to play ALL THE TIME (on cassette tape!) – but that had somehow fallen completely out of my memory. (It’s kind of fun when that happens!)

When I saw the album cover of The Cure’s Wish on YouTube a little bit ago, it actually gave me a little jolt. It’s so FAMILIAR a sight….but I hadn’t seen it in such a long time as to have completely forgotten it. I didn’t even remember the Cure had an album called Wish – and I certainly didn’t remember owning it. Which is crazy because I used to listen to this album very frequently. I mean, the tape fell apart I listened to it so many times!

How did I lose track of this album? When the tape fell to pieces, how is it that I didn’t replace it?

I must just not have been in a Cure frame of mind at the time of the tape’s demise or something….and then I just forgot all about it. And then YEARS passed! Crazy.

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Sometimes when I stumble upon these old favorites, I just have to laugh at myself – laugh at the twenty-years-ago me. Because some of what I used to listen to is just so cheesy! (Not Wish…but most definitely other things.)

I went through a real eighties-music phase in college, for one thing. At least one of the radio stations would play eighties music on Friday and Saturday nights and we’d blast it while we were getting ready to go out and hit the campus bars for dancing. (While we drank the Natural Light beer we talked somebody or other into buying for us.)

Sometimes eighties music can be fun to play. I still like it sometimes. But I have to say: much of what I used to love, eighties-wise, is not exactly what I would call quality, nuanced art – capable of standing the test of time.

For example, here is one of my very favorite eighties songs of old – one of the ones I would most definitely have run away from a conversation for, to get to the radio and crank it up!:

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All right, I just watched “Jessie’s Girl” (in the process of going to YouTube for the link.) And while yes, it is cheesy (SO cheesy!) I have to admit that a part of me still kind of does love this song. I don’t know why! And I’m a little embarrassed to admit it…but there it is!

So as far as “standing the test of time”? I don’t know where to put “Jessie’s Girl.” I’ll have to think about that.

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Thinking about “Jessie’s Girl,” and being a tad embarrassed to cop to liking it, reminds me again of an interview with Jared Leto that I sort of got sucked into watching the other day, without meaning to. “Sucked in” because it was long and I had other things to do…but it turned out to be really interesting and so I couldn’t help stopping and watching it. It was entertaining too – and one part that I found so, I did because of exactly what I’m talking about with “Jessie’s Girl.”

I don’t know how old he (Jared Leto) is exactly, but he’s clearly around my age (I just turned 40) – and I can tell because of the way he talks about the way he used to experience music. It matches the way it was for me.

And have you noticed that you CAN put a time frame on that sort of thing – because that time that I (and ostensibly he) were in high school/college (the nineties) was really something of the end of an era. That’s such a strange thing to consider – but it so clearly is true in hindsight. It was right after that that EVERYTHING changed. The rise of digital…the internet…cell phones. It’s really sort of crazy how different everything is now. I look at old episodes of Friends in its early years, say, or Seinfeld – and they have these big clunky phones…which were very “of the moment” as they were CORDLESS and so could walk from apartment to apartment. High tech! And all kinds of complications ensued in those shows that would never have ensued if you had a smartphone in your pocket. (Ross and Rachel and the problem with the Xerox girl? That would never have happened if Rachel had been able to text him!! It’s so funny.)

But anyway, Jared Leto was making the point that nowadays you can buy music (digitally) and listen to it and nobody needs to be any the wiser about your choices – which gives you a freedom in your relationship to music that didn’t exist back in the day. No more slinking into the record store to procure your “uncool” choices! His personal example of that kind of guilty pleasure was Cyndi Lauper’s “Time After Time” – a song that didn’t at all match with his cooler classic rock/Pink Floyd/etc public image.

In my opinion, that’s what mix tapes were for….secret mix tapes that you hid for the moments when you were totally by yourself. But he does have a point. The ease with which you can procure music now is pretty great. How many times did I freak out and scramble for a blank tape when a song I loved and wanted came on the radio?? (The answer to that would be LOTS.) And how many times did I curse the DJ who talked over the end of a song I’d waited days and days and days to come on so that I could record it?? (Also LOTS.)

So here’s “Time After Time” – which I also really liked a lot way-back-when. (And okay, still do. If I can admit to “Jessie’s Girl”, I should be able to admit to this one! It’s actually a better song. And the video is so great…in this completely eighties way.):

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Not everything I used to listen to makes me laugh at myself – which is good! I did have some less superficial and more nuanced tastes, at least!

Like the Cure’s Wish.

HOW have I gone so many years without listening to this album? It’s REALLY good! I still REALLY like it. It’s aged extremely well, I think.

[4/23/15 edit: I originally linked to the album here, which was posted in its entirety on YouTube…but it seems to have been taken down. Sorry!!]

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In case you were wondering, the song that got me going on this little wave of nineties-era musical nostalgia today (that led eventually to Wish) was this one:

I still like it actually – though I think I like it for nostalgic reasons now more than because it still holds any kind of meaning for me. (Same with “Time After Time” – and certainly “Jessie’s Girl”!)

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“Somebody’s Crying” makes me think of the show Party of Five (from the same era.) I don’t know why….it must have played in an episode or something.

Speaking of Jared Leto (a few paragraphs back): he was asked (in the course of that interview I watched) more than one question about the show he was in at that time period, My So-Called Life.

I never watched that show. I was in college when it was on I think and it was about high school….so it just wasn’t on my radar. But the people who did watch it were so dedicated to it!

I’ll have to watch an episode sometime, to see if I can see why. Maybe alongside an episode of Party of Five – just to compare. That might be interesting.

Though I admit that at least half of my Party of Five enthusiasm was due to the somewhat major crush I had on Matthew Fox (who played the oldest sibling, Charlie….for anybody who remembers that show.) I remember vacillating for like two years in my head between him as my celebrity crush-of-choice, and Liam Gallagher of Oasis. I believe Liam eventually won that battle (that in-your-face arrogance was very appealing, for whatever reason, when I got a tad older.)

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So this post has turned into kind of a silly ramble about things I used to like back in the day….but you know, it’s IS somewhat interesting. I’m not JUST laughing at myself. (Though I am that too. It’s hard not to!)

But (in all seriousness) it’s kind of fascinating, really, to take a look at what appealed to you at a point in your life – and to think about what it was that appealed exactly, and what that says about you and your life and your emotions and headspace at the time.

I mean, something like the Cure’s music: that’s actually really beautiful in many ways. Lyrically, musically. It doesn’t really date. It’s nuanced enough that you can connect with it in different ways over time. I connected emotionally with Wish when it first came out – and I could feel myself doing so again today. Probably not in the same way as twenty years ago, because I’m not the same person. But the potential for real connection is clearly still there for me in that music.

Much of R.E.M. is like that for me as well; that’s why I’ve loved R.E.M. for such a long time.

Here’s my very favorite R.E.M. song of all time, just for good measure. (I’ve linked to this before….but I’m always happy to find another reason. I love this song so much!):

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So, there’s some music (and books….a few movies) that have traveled with me, so to speak, through time (like R.E.M.’s music.) And there’s some (like Wish) that, while they fell by the wayside at some point, are clearly things that I can pick up, dust off (metaphorically-speaking), and find new meaning in. What I mean is, it’s clear to me what the appeal of those things is (and has been through time) for me.

But “Jessie’s Girl”? Party of Five? I’ve definitely outgrown whatever it was in those that once drew me – which is why I can look at them now and chuckle at myself. They’re intrinsically tied to a much younger and less developed version of me. Thinking of how drawn I felt to them back then is kind of sweet in a way. It gives me a fond feeling for that girl of all those years ago – but there’s definitely no emotional connection NOW.

For self-knowledge, if nothing else, it’s worth giving some greater thought to that.

I mean, I didn’t watch Party of Five for Matthew Fox alone. I liked the other characters: Neve Campbell’s Julia in particular, I recall. And by the same token, I knew OF My So-Called Life – enough to know that “the guy on there” was pretty hot. But that wasn’t enough to make me watch the show. So it’s not like lust drove all my choices back then.

So what did drive them? I’d like to understand that better.

I’ll have to think about that.

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7 thoughts on “Nostalgia-Tinged Ramblings on (some of the) Entertainment of My Past

  1. I used to have tons of mix tapes. I would cram them into every pocket when I went down to London on the train with my Walkman. Other people can assemble a gun in thirty seconds blindfolded. I got to be very adept at flipping/changing the tape with just one hand without even looking LOL

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