Summers occupy more than their share of one quarter of my memories. When I think of formative years (early- and mid-80s) and especially of the friends that surrounded me then, the faces are often suntanned and brightly smiling. Behind their young eyes I still see the desire to pulse out into the wide world, to grow and explore beyond our confines.
We flew through our summers, sleeping little, gorging experiences. Ravenous, we wanted everything. Day and night, we ran wild, and whatever Grand Island, Hastings, and Lincoln would become to us later in our lives, they were, for the time being, places to be dominated – places to be transcended.
We would all be moving on, but not before we memorized the nearby countryside, bolting down Nebraska’s gridded county roads, walls of corn or beans on either side, spouting wakes of dust into the hot atmosphere. Stopping on train bridges and looking up, stars dotted or clustered in the otherwise blaring darkness of the sky and night in the country is its own music.
We spent floating hours sharing hopes and thoughts with one another in the Platte River whose channels, banks, and depths evolved and shifted each day. The Platte also shaped us – presenting us always a slightly different and new river, as we presented it daily with slightly adjusted and adapted young selves. The river is its own music.
h one another in the Platte River whose channels, banks, and depths evolved and shifted each day. The Platte also shaped us – presenting us always a slightly different and new river, as we presented it daily with slightly adjusted and adapted young selves. The river is its own music.
We whooped through our cities by night – walking steady along train tracks that transected our towns, or going subterranean to howl away in railroad underpasses. Like felines we scaled buildings or grain elevators after midnight to survey the city’s streets, alleys, and the pathways we took during the day. Cities are their own hypnotic music.
In our natural courses we moved on. Some said goodbye to those formative days and our places with haste and pleasure, some said goodbye wistfully; some said no goodbye at all. Of course, there was music playing all the time and there are songs that can take me right back. A representative sample:
— This song is an explosion of joy and youth – weird and wonderful – like a double shot of something – 80 proof – swallowed through a mouthful of sugary candy. I’ve got to tell you all about it, I’ve got to scream and shout it.
Uncontrollable Urge by Devo, this version is from Urgh! A Music War (Soundtrack, 1981 A&M Records).
— Discovering The Police before they “hit” felt like knowing a conspiratorial code for what is cool. This dark and masterful song still makes me close my eyes and shake my head.
Bring On The Night by The Police, from Regatta de Blanc (1979 A&M Records).
— They were a revelation and among the most influential bands in American music. I loved them for years. R.E.M. = college memories.
Carnival of Sorts (Box Cars) by R.E.M., from the EP Chronic Town (1982 IRS).
— My first experience with a band that would become a favorite forever, this song still transports me to hot summer nights in 1984. Astonishing.
Sugar Hiccup by Cocteau Twins, from Sunburst and Snowblind (1983 4AD).
— This represents the kind of DIY ethos that jarred my friends and me – a pretty song from a fun and pretty record.
Choukoutien by Oh OK, from Furthermore What (1983 DB Records).
— On the opposite end of the scale, here is a summery tune from a gargantuan and inescapable hit album.
Save a Prayer by Duran Duran, from Rio (1982 EMI/Capitol).
— A double dose of Daniel Ash’s genius.
All We Ever Wanted Was Everything byBauhaus, from The Sky’s Gone Out (1982 Beggar’s Banquet).
You, The Night, and The Music by Tones on Tail, from Burning Skies (1983 Situation Two).
— After saying, “Goodbye,” can you go back?
Goodbye to the Village by Killing Joke, from Brighter Than a Thousand Suns (1986 EG Records).
28 july 2014