My love for music is fierce. At 8 years old, I asked my mom for a dollar so I could join the Kiss Army, she obliged and I still have my pin to this day.
I am a music snob and here’s why: growing up there was always music in my house. My parents were always playing their “jitterbug” music and my three older sisters had their own musical tastes.
My older sister Beth is a rock n roll/folk music kind of gal who played guitar: 12-string guitar. She often sang me to sleep, playing Cat Stevens songs on that thing. My sister Peggy is our Dancing Queen. She taught me The Stroll and The Hustle.
She is still the first one up for the line dances at weddings. My sister Helene became the reason why I love New Wave, most commonly know as Post-Punk these days, and would have to drag me around at my mother’s behest with her friends.
I went hard into Post-Punk, falling in love with Duran Duran, Echo and the Bunnymen, The Psychadelic Furs and The Cure, but wanted something that was mine. One of my sister Helene’s friends advised me to listen to college radio and when in a record store (all hail 3rd Street Jazz!), to pick up any band whose name caught my attention. WPRB in Princeton led me to dive (literally stage dive) into Punk Rock and Hardcore.
My new favorites became Black Flag, The Clash and Minor Threat, not to mention the Goth bands of the day: Sisters of Mercy, Red Lorry, Yellow Lorry and Christian Death. Yes, I wore all black, all day and my eyeliner was on point.
You see, this was the beauty of loving music in the 80’s. You had to work for it. You had to research it, listen deep and go hard. For me, it was a passion and a coping mechanism. Music saved my life on more than one occasion.
I miss the making of the mix tape and designing my own covers for them. I’ve become addicted to making playlists on Spotify, but it’s not the same. Its so different now with music and I knowyounger generations may not get it but here are 5 ways that music was different for us old heads.
- You were all in. Your heart and your soul was in it. I still have a radar check for good music: if the hair on my arms doesn’t go up after hearing a song, I’m out.
- You had to listen to the whole album, yes I said album, meaning vinyl. Start to finish, you couldn’t just download a song and be done, you had to buy the whole thing…record, cassette tape or CD. You were nervous you were going to miss some buried treasure if you didn’t.
- And once you bought the whole album you were married to it, it was a serious relationship, in it for the good and bad, and a conversation piece with your friends. Especially those boys you were hoping to chat up.
- Music was an escape. I think in ways it still is but then it was your own oasis. Like a good book, music takes you to far off places and provides a space to sort your emotions out.
- The skills you require when listening to music were more detailed then. You had to wait for something, a riff, lyric or just for an album to drop, so you learned the value of patience. Just like pictures these days; we had to wait at the Fotomat for 3 days for our pictures. Now its instant. I used to have to sleep out for concert tickets. I would sleep out at The Spectrum or outside the record store in a tent or sleeping bag just to get tickets to a show, now I just have to listen to hold music or count the waiting time online, not that I would want to do that at 48, but well, sigh.
Although the styles and formats have changed, music can still be that marital relationship it once was, if we just allow for it to flow through our veins and engage in the ups and downs and good and bad that it unveils to us. Digital does not have to be the end of the relationship, just a different way of loving.