|VH1's "Black in the 80s" and My 1980s.
||[Jun. 23rd, 2005|02:01 am]
|[||Tags|||||joy and pain, memory lane||]|
|[||In the Moment
|||||Back in the Day||]|
|||||Some Stupid Early Morning VH1 Shit||]|
I wouldn't exactly call it a revolution.
For me, it was just better.
I was robbed of my local culture by lack of local interest.
It wasn't until later that I learned that the late night songs on 96.3 FM and other stations were dance mixes from guys in my backyard. I had no idea that "Good Life" came from my area. I did a lot of listening for me after hours on the weekends, and that's precisely through the 1980s when the good shit came on the air.
I didn't know who Derrick May, Kevin Saunderson, or Juan Atkins were until I read about their legend in European "Best of Techno" CD compilations in the early 1990s. Through these tales and the magazines I could find, I learned of the Belleville 3 and the earlier inspiration of Germany's Kraftwerk.
For me, I had a lot of 80s music in the boom box.
I remember Grandmaster Flash, but I was pretty young and more into movies like Star Wars and looking for Billy Dee Williams's Colt .45 ads. I really liked Chaka Khan's "I Feel for You." Salt 'N' Pepa. Push it.
I remember going to my grandma's house, and I'd hear country music. My dad's side of the family came from Arkansas. I remember hearing that music and thinking, Man, fuck that shit. It had no heart. It wasn't universal, and it didn't speak to me.
The Beastie Boys were okay, and I remember "Brass Monkey" and the "License to Ill" album. I really didn't get into them as much until they put out the "Sabotage" song. Everybody from that age, however, that listened to a city-based radio in Michigan knew about the fighting and the right to party. Seriously . . . if you ever come across someone in my age group who doesn't remember that song from the time period, then their family were hermits, they had some brain trauma, or they're an alien.
For me, a large amount of my music budget devoted to cassettes of DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince. "Nightmare on My Street" was my favorite jam for a few months on the CD Boom Box 'repeat 1' option. Fuck an iPod.
Man, parents just don't understand. They still don't. They never will.
DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince continue to rock my house. The "Rock the House" album I had on cassette, and I still play it in my economy car's tape deck. Before I hurt my back, I used to bang my head to the Human Beat Box Ready Rock C's underwater rendition of "Sanford and Son." It's funny, but some 2005 Will Smith jam plays right now as I'm writing about them on the VH1 in the background. Hahaha, I laugh at his Philly hat. Big willie style this. I'm sorry, but there is no Will Smith. He is the Fresh Prince. I like his acting career, more and usually less, but in the mid-1980s, he was my favorite rapper. DJ Jazzy Jeff was my favorite turntable master. I loved to mimic Freddy's line in the "Nightmare on My Street" song . . . "You've got the body, and I've got the brains."
Times change. People don't think they can beat Mike Tyson. They can.
People born after 1990 probably won't understand Michael Jackson's "Thriller" album.
'Cause this is Thriller, man! Thriller night. Billy Jean is not my lover. I don't even like girls. Where's my Detroit Tigers hat . . . hope Lou and Tram win tonight. Hey, you can't read my Cracked and Mad magazines. Just beat it, man. Vincent Price is awesome. Count Scary on the TV 'round Halloween . . . watch out for that poison candy with needles. Stay close to mom or dad. I wanna play some video games. Where's my Pac Man cartridge . . . I want to escape the nightmare on my street.
As far as I'm concerned, the last time Aerosmith meant anything to the world was "Walk This Way" with Run DMC. They were the power behind that particular jam, and I enjoyed "My Adidas" and the Xmas song, but really, it didn't make me go out and rock Adidas. I was caught up in Michael Jordan's Nikes and the eventual Reebok Pumps. That was a basketball thing. Leisure clothes never were a big thing outside of jeans, a t-shirt, and basketball shoes or some knock-off brand for the bulk of my playground activity. Yes, I'm understating the overall power of Run DMC, but really, let's face facts. In 1986, I was 9 years old. I understood peace, but I had a hard time grasping the concept of continued struggle of black society. I wanted good jams, and good jams were what I received.
Secretly, especially when I started getting random wood in pre-algebra class for no apparent reason, I would think of 2 Live Crew and Digital Underground. My friend Jim had the 2 Live Crew, but really, I loved the hell out of the Digital Underground. "The Humpty Dance" was the jam. I loved that song so hard that I played it with multiple pauses of the CD boom box to copy down the lyrics and memorize them. To this day, I still wait for the opportunity in a strange town to get busy in a Burger King bathroom. "Sex Packets" is one of my favorite albums.
Ask, and ye shall be provided.
Fuck a Minor Threat.
I really didn't ever get into Elvis in any way, shape, or form, specifically because Chuck D told me he was a racist. Any Elvis I followed was through the Australian scandal rag, "Weekly World News." I wondered if I'd ever run into Bat Child. I felt fairly sure that JFK communicated with aliens and still lived with that old Elvis coot in seclusion on an orbiting spaceship on the far side of the moon. Not too long after Chuck D told me about Elvis, I discovered through history books that the most famous Tiger of all, Ty Cobb, was a raging racist. I only respect Cobb's diamond accomplishments and his will to win at all costs. I can't respect the man. Thank you, Chuck D.
Inequality in the United States always lingered around my mind and sometimes up in my face. I wasn't blind to it. I enjoyed history. When I was in 1st grade, I studied and wrote and delivered some speech in class about Dr. Martin Luther King. When I was 7 years old, I began to identify with his message of peace. His holiday also fell around my birthday, and I not only enjoyed his Dream speech, but I felt grateful for the extra days off of school. My birthdays in Detroit were always in the worst part of the winter, and that day off meant a lot. I'd thumb through my baseball cards, organize them, and think about how I could make the world a better place. Thank you, Dr. Martin Luther King.
I didn't listen to much N.W.A. until high school, and by that time I was well on my way to success with track and field and cross country. I didn't drink, and I didn't smoke anything. The worst drug I knew in high school that I would seek out on weekends existed at the 7-11, and that was either the sugar rush of a Slurpee, or if I was really in need of something with kick, I'd grab a Jolt Cola. I had good grades, I contributed to my sports teams, and my friends and I would ride around in their cars. I did do a lot of hanging out with a kid named Mike, and took me further into the world of N.W.A. By the early-to-mid 1990s, however, N.W.A. was starting to become a classic, and my main devotion of music became Deee-Lite and my quest for more and more techno with bits of Kurt Cobain and Nirvana right when "Smells Like Teen Spirit" hit the Detroit airwaves in 1991. Kurt didn't matter quite as much to me until college, but I do remember the announcement on Channel One of Cobain's suicide in class. I was a junior.
You got a fast car . . .
I want a ticket to anywhere
Maybe we make a deal.
Maybe together we can get somewhere . . .
Tracy Chapman's "Fast Car" meant a lot to me in 1988. My parents, after a long battle of dad's alcoholism throughout the 1980s, finally parted ways after a handful of rather frightening violent nights around 1986-1987. My dad went off the deep end, and he had to get himself together . . . "clean up or die," as his doctor explained to him. 1988 was a terrible year of awkward feelings, pain, and keeping to myself. I stayed a lot in the mid-1980s at my other grandparents' (mom's side) house because my dad was pretty damn dangerous to be around through his darkest years of suffering. When I needed help to cope, there was Tracy, telling me about a fast car that could possibly take me the fuck out of this motherfucking hell and at least to somewhere else.
Also, New Edition was cool and a fresh change of pace, but I really enjoyed Bel Biv Devoe's "Poison" around the late 1980s. By that time, girls were poison not because they were stupid. I wanted them, but I had no idea how to go about telling one that I liked her, let alone the concept of a real girl. Yet, "that girl is pooooiisssooooon" was a careful reminder not to get too deep with any of them unless my ass could cash a check.
Jooooy . . . and paaain . . . sunshiiiine, and rain . . . it it it it takes two to make a, it it it it takes two to make a, it it it it takes two to make a, it it it it takes two to make ahhI wanna rock right now . . . I'm not internationally known . . . yeah, that's the shit right there! That is the shit!
By the end of the 1980s, the Tigers began the long decline of useless and forgettable seasons. By that time, the Detroit Pistons, Mr. Davidson, and Jack McCloskey built their team around a young point guard named Isiah Thomas, and the Bad Boys were in full effect. Everyone in my neighborhood worshiped Bill Laimbeer. I remember the moment of heartbreak which helped the Pistons along their quest for dominance in the NBA. I sat in Jawor's putt-putt and driving range along Gratiot when Larry Bird stole the inbound pass and passed it to Dennis Johnson for the lay-up and the Celtic dagger into the heart of their drive in the mid-1980s. The Pistons built on that, and they were turned away by an aging and potent Lakers squad in the summer of 1988. All of it built up to 1989 and the close of the 1980s and their 2nd championship. Bill Laimbeer was king of all basketball, to many in our city . . . I worshiped Joe Dumars and cherished the Sports Illustrated cover where Joe put his hand to hold down a paper cut-out of tongue-out Michael Jordan, who had yet to taste his first championship.
George Herbert Walker Bush was in office, but no one my age gave a shit. The same sentiment held for Ronald Reagan, but I do remember the Oliver North trial. I was too young to understand the assassination attempt on President Reagan, but I remember watching the Challenger explosion. Tears streamed my eyes. My mother was a teacher, and I identified with the loss of Christa McAuliffe.
I would be lying to you if I said that I never listened to 'popular' music. I had a couple Madonna albums because she was from Michigan. She also appealed to my idea of a woman in the late 1980s when the hooters meant something as the girls started to sport training bras like trophies.
It's funny to say, but I thought of Prince as the "sex" race. When I was young, I watched him and enjoyed the jams, but I had less of an interest for him until the late 1980s through the 1990s.
Devo rocked me on MTV with "Whip It." I learned in the Talking Heads video "Once in a Lifetime" that life was the "same as it ever was." Weird Al was a favorite, and satire was always part of my interests. I enjoyed the Genesis video "Land of Confusion" for the puppets, and the political message hit me later in life. My dad got me my first CD, and it was a Three Dog Night album. I never listened to it. I remember Debbie Gibson and Tiffany. All of that "Best of the 1980s" one-hit collection passed through my ears to my head. MTV was on a lot. Cyndi Lauper. Pat Benetar's "Love Is A Battlefield" was another early video memory. Billy Idol's "White Wedding" was catchy. I really enjoyed Boy George and Wham. Queer and weird were staples, and the 1980s were chock full of that in music.
Late night was often when I'd thrive. If it wasn't music, it was television, and I'd watch David Letterman and Johnny Carson. Friday nights were "Miami Vice" nights. I still want to rock the pastel suits with no tie and no socks and matching loafers. "The A-Team" was my most favorite series outside of "Miami Vice," and I identified with each of the male cast members on that show. I wanted to emulate a bit of each of them, for I knew the value of a good team. I still love it when a plan comes together. There was "Punky Brewster," "The Cosby Show," "A Different World," "Knight Rider," the resurrection of the CBS "Twilight Zone," "Highway to Heaven," "MacGyver," and a ton of others.
AC/DC didn't hit me until I entered college. The same thing happened to me for The Cure. I still enjoy AC/DC, and "Back in Black" and "Highway to Hell" are two of my favorite albums. The Cure's "A Forest" is the only song I really remember from the 1980s.
I'm sure I forgot as much as I remembered from VH1's trip down memory lane. The new dawn breaks. Night into day.
High school began in 1991, and by that time, I tried my best to discover other music. I forgot a lot of it. Electronic music took hold during this time. I went back in history and discovered what I'd had under my nose. Connect the dots, la-la-la-la.
R & B played a lot while I was at my last retail job, and everyone would ask me if I wanted something else, but I didn't mind. To be honest, the urban stations in Detroit today and the shit that aired every hour was played and stupid. I'm sure it draws fair ratings in the city and with 23 Mile & Gratiot white kids. I have no idea what the Oakland county new rich listen to . . . that shit is probably indie, and it's probably really fucking terrible. Feel my emotions, they're so feel.