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Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Transitions


Do you still listen to the music you loved in high school? Lately, I'm beginning to feel that the worse the news gets, the more us 30 and 40 somethings retreat into our past, into the music we cut our teeth on during the last great economic downturn.

Every semi serious music lover experiences changes in their musical taste as they become exposed to more and different kinds of genres. Part of blogging about music, for me, is looking back on how I received new music at different points in my life and comparing those memories to how I listen now. A great post over on Pretending Life Is Like A Song has me reminiscing and analyzing my transition from guitar-driven rock and roll to Punk and New Wave music in the early 80s. Adam unravels the meaning of "Alison" by Elvis Costello in both an academic and quite personal way -- this is great blogging folks, check it out.

And yes, Elvis Costello was pivotal for my transition. Other groups of the time also opened my eyes to a less regional sound (southern USA, "hard rock" bands like Lynyrd Skynyrd, The Outlaws, The Allman Brothers, Molly Hatchet and Tom Petty dominated the airwaves where I lived. I took that to simply be what rock music was, not knowing how much more there could be). Soon, like everyone my age, I was lapping up everything the UK could offer me and American bands were evolving as well. But Elvis Costello--he was first.

This transition morphed into a very important social marker in highschool. There were three crowds to fit into: The Jocks/Preps, The Nerds/Geeks, and The Stoners. As you might guess they were closely aligned with social class, identified by the kind of clothes you wore, and the grades you earned. Until Punk and New Wave music hit, I had firmly been a member of The Stoner crowd. We liked our Southern Rock just fine, and threw it back with a hefty shot of Jack Daniels, a Budweiser chaser and some imported Colombian you-know-what. Football games were spent under the bleachers, Saturday nights saw us huddled around a blanket on the beach getting high to the sounds of a car radio.

Then the 80s hit and I began to find a niche academically. New Wave and Punk music had a cache that tore me out of my stupor, the lyrics were witty and meaningful. Reagan and Thatcher were gutting the working class, the mentally ill, and the children while the upper classes' wealth grew. My teenage angst was in high gear. I knew I'd never be "cool" but I might as well enjoy pretensions of Continentalism now if I were to ever escape my little beach town. I dreamed of college, Socialism, travel, love- all things that my Stoner friends hated with justifiable class resentment. But academics might be a way out, I reckoned and indeed, I was one of the lucky few who did make it. Music propelled me to aspire to larger things, it still does.

So the first major transition occurred. Another big one would happen about 10 years later, but that's another post....

Goodbye Stranger Supertramp Breakfast In America, buy it
Kid The Pretenders Singles, buy it
Is She Really Going Out With Him Joe Jackson, Classic Joe Jackson, buy it
Cockney Kids Are Innocent Sham 69 The Punk Singles Collection 1977-80, buy it

6 comments:

adam said...

Thank you very much for your nice words :) I made the leap as I became a teenager from ELO and Queen to The Jam and The Who and more of the post-punk/new wave thing generally - 'If The Kids Are United' was one of my early ones, and Joe Jackson should clearly be one of the most famous men in the world, such a talent he has.

a Tart said...

Imagine jumping from ELO! I was all so happy to find them in my little back water town. Thanks for stopping by Adam, always good to see you here xoxo

meatpocket said...

Awesome post as always, wifey - fascinating to see how much music matters in people's lives - one may scoff but it really does matter...

Your link to Adam's blog is broken, btw, and just by going to his blog via your link to his profile, i couldn't find the post...

a Tart said...

ah yes, seems he's had to take it down, alas :(

adam said...

Wasn't me. Somebody complained in a rather legal and formal way and the post has been locked up as private. I will repost the words without the music...

a Tart said...

oh damn those legal eagles lol! we love your words, let the music go, we can sing along in our heads :)