Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The Retro Nostalgia mix

I am 4 days away from returning to Colorado for my 20th HS reunion. I imagine I'll have fun there (I did at the 10th reunion, so there's no reason why I shouldn't on this go-round...older friends tell me they get more fun over time). Since Swankette has never been to Colorado, I'll have some fun showing her the old haunts, swamps, ditches, etc. (which I understand have all been overrun with icky strip malls and box stores).

But whatever should the soundtrack be?

I have decided that, for at least some of the trip (the driving around the old 'hood), I needed to make a special iPod mix. I've called it "Retro Nostalgia," which is redundant, I guess, but it feels like a fine title for the playlist.

It's not as simple as slapping together a load of crappy '80s tunes. It's much more complex than that. I'm trying to put together a list of stuff I listened to a bunch in the first 18 years of my life, whether they're songs from the '80s or before.

And today, I spent a bit too much of my vacation fund on iTunes buying music that I forgot I liked.

The first purchase was Simple Minds' Once Upon a Time. That was one of the final albums I bought on LP, and I don't think I ever copied it to cassette. That's a shame, because it's a HS album that I think I'd still like. (The most notable others to fit that description are Paul Simon's Graceland and the Dream Academy's self-titled debut album.) It was legitimately great stuff, and although I haven't listened to them yet, I suspect that "Alive and Kicking" and "Ghost Dancing" are probably still good. And even if they aren't, I'll enjoy singing them in the car.

Then, the Human League. It has aged absolutely horribly--the whole synthesizer thing hasn't stood the test of time. But that dude's deep voice is tremendous, and I found I kept on smiling as I listened to songs, even ones I haven't heard of. I defy anyone--anyone in the world--to listen to "Fascination" without smiling or tapping toes.

Next came the kitsch. Songs I loved when I was a young teen. Guilty pleasures. Katrina and the Waves. Rick Springfield. Jackson Browne's "Somebody's Baby," a karaoke must of mine. That kind of stuff.

I sang along with an awful lot of Air Supply from 1981 to 1984...but I did it far away from my junior high classmates who would have called me homophobic names for doing so. When I looked over their songs on iTunes, I was surprised to find 8 that I'd like to sing along with. It made financial sense to buy an entire 20-song album, most of which I'll likely never listen to...but I now own more Air Supply than just about anybody should.

Finally, I went back even further.

Kenny Rogers.

Just after my ninth birthday, I saved up some allowance and bought Kenny. I was hoping that album would still be out there, as I think I could still sing the choruses to some forgotten songs like "Santiago Midnight Moonlight," "You Turn The Light On," or my favorite, "Goodbye Marie," since I repeated them about a billion times a day that year. (Note to my family: Thank you for not selling me off for parts that year.) But sadly, even though Kenny was a monster hit, iTunes doesn't offer it as an album. The Gambler, yes. But not Kenny, the first album I bought with my own money.

So instead, I cherry-picked and bought seven big Kenny Rogers hits as a representative sample of my pre-pubescent musical tastes.

With that, I felt I had the necessary components to compile the Soundtrack of TRP's Youth. Anything that I would have listened to in the first 18 years of life was eligible. Much of this, I already have, like the Beatles taste I originally inherited from my brother, the Simon and Garfunkel and Mamas and Papas that my parents listened to, and some of the aforementioned high school stuff I enjoyed. I also listened to Oldies radio a lot, and I had that covered--Tommy James and the Shondells, the Everly Brothers, Ray Charles. Additionally, in HS I liked Phil Collins a lot, and since I bought it all on CD, it had already made the leap to the computer. It's better than even money that Swankette will hear me sing "I Missed Again" and/or "Sussudio" at some point over the next fortnight--and I will do so with gusto not seen in most of the population. Be ready, honey. It'll be an experience. I couldn't pick all of the Beatles..the stuff I loved from Past Masters Volume Two wasn't released until fairly late in my senior year, so I don't associate it with those times. Still, I included one or two I loved ("Paperback Writer,") and all the earlier stuff. And occasionally, I'd include a later song that reminded me of HS (for instance, if I included it on a mix tape for a HS friend, it retroactively becomes a HS song).

At any rate, I may have to test drive the mix over the next day or two to see if Swankette can handle it. But even if she can't, well, her reunion is in one year. I'll be ready to listen to a lot of Cure, Pink Floyd, and Dead Milkmen. It'll be an education.

Okay. Now that I've exposed way more about myself than is necessary, let's turn this around.

What songs that you used to listen to would be needed on the soundtrack of your youth...but might cause people (like your spouse) to cringe a little in the car if it came on and you sang along?


swankette said...

Let's get things straight here:

Sussudio may just be one of the worst song ever written, and while I will do my best to gaze adoringly at you while you sing it I do not know if I have the intestinal fortitude to make it through the full song. Phil Collins wrote damn long songs.

Also, the only Pink Floyd on my high school mix would be the song "Bike" from Animals and select songs from "The Wall." Pink Floyd was my brother's high school soundtrack. There will be a few Dead Milkmen songs, and a couple by The Cure, but it will be much more heavily leaning to Depeche Mode, Violent Femmes, and 12" remixes of songs originally sung by sad Europeans.

Jenni said...

Maybe you should drive Swankette down Fair Drive toward the school singing "Gumboots" perfectly in sync with Paul Simon.

Kate said...

My favorite.record.ever was Olivia Newton-John's Greatest Hits. Also a fan of Sheena Easton, Bonnie Tyler, Air Supply, and the Footloose soundtrack. However, I am not brave enough to inflict my personal soundtrack on anyone I love. I think my husband would drive us off the nearest cliff if we cranked up my ipod!