Acquired: Half Price Books, Used, 2011
“Is ‘Pretty in Pink’ on this one?” she asks.
“It’s still good. What year is this?”
“I don’t know?” I say, turning my brain on. There’s this game Joe and I play at work where we look at a really awful, cheesy, corny book (this game is almost exclusively played with business books) and whoever is queried has to guess what year the things was published (usually late 80s/early 90s but sometimes something came out in 2001 and it looks mega old and it’s extra funny/sad thus making the game extra fun). So, I rolled the dice.
“Really?” she asks.
“Um, I dunno let me check.” I scan the worn back cover. “YES! 1984! VICTORY!”
“Good job honey.”
“I KNOW! I AM A FUCKING WIZARD!” I don’t really say that, but I do think it. I think “Goddamn, what a fucking wizard I am!” Because sometimes you can just tell, you know? Like, the timbre of the sax line that runs through the seemingly infinite “Heartbeat” just screams mid-1980s (and screams a bit more subtly through like, all the other songs on the record because this is the 80s after all before the advent of the crunchy-guitar-solo-on-some-beat-up-fender era). There’s a weird association with mid-80s music and me because I was born in 1985 and it’s just plain weird thinking about music that came out when I was born. Like looking at one of those kitschy pamphlets you get at fancy rest stops in the middle west, each one dedicated to a different year and each one laced with ads and newspaper stories to make you go “well I’ll be darned! What a year!” It’s like a time capsule to my birth/infancy/toddlerhood. Even when I was like, 7 or 8 or 9 or 10 and was in a position to remember music from the mid-90s, all I would listen to was the radio, and then only when I was in the car with my parents. So Oldies 95, 101.1 The Fox and 99.7 KY pretty much exclusively until I “discovered” Smashmouth with my best friend when we were in 6th grade (with the bizarrely cool exception of a cassette single of They Might Be Giants’ “Istanbul” that I got at a garage sale three houses down and pretty much tried my hardest to wear out on my little boom box when I was like 11 and, for whatever reason, didn’t really understand the genius of TMBG until I was 24 and working at CD Tradepost and put on their two-disc best of whenever I thought the CEO dude wouldn’t show up and I could spend the morning listening to all that wonderful, weird goodness and every time “Istanbul” came on it warmed my little heart and simultaneously made me wonder how I could have listened to such a goddamn annoying song over and over and over again at such a young age and wondered if it maybe tampered with my tolerance levels because I’m not nearly critical enough to be a music critic, not really. I talk a lot of shit but mostly I’m ok with most stuff that’s even remotely OK). But this is from my pre-infancy. When I was like, a little nubbin of a person in my mama’s belly (HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY, MA!) Actually, since I’m still qualifying as a Kansan* for another couple of weeks, I was TECHNICALLY a person like, 4000 years ago when God created the garden and all that shit because really, WHERE DO YOU DRAW THE LINE WITH PERSONHOOD. But that is beside the point, and only getting in the way of my deft analysis of The Psychedelic Furs’ Mirror Moves, which I’m avoiding critiquing because it’s a normal, run of the mill, mid-80s new wave record that lacks any really spectacular hits. Sure, “Heaven” is pretty OK, and it’s a clear-cut single, but it’s kind of a hum-drum single if you ask me. A sort of trying-too-hard-to-sound-deep-and-emotional thing. The rest of the album kind of gets lost in a bunch of new technology. Myriad synths, drum machines, and FUCKING SAXOPHONES EVERYWHERE GOOD LORD THIS THING IS LOUSY WITH SAXOPHONES! Or maybe I’m being overly harsh because the cover of this thing is just so obnoxious. This like check-pattern portrait of Richard Butler looking like “You wanna look up my nostrils and measure the parabola of my indifferent frown? Five bucks” is really bothering me. It’s just like, sitting right here while I’m writing and I’m looking like, RIGHT up his nostrils and I remember when I bought this, I bought this the same day I bought Bruce Springsteen’s Darkness on the Edge of Town and put the two albums up side by side and pretended to stage a faux-showdown between the Boss and this effete British dude in a big blue suit. Guess who won that fight? I’ll give you a hint. It wasn’t the guy NOT-singing “Pretty in Pink” on this album. That’s probably because “Pretty in Pink” is on Talk Talk Talk which I’ve never listened to but maybe should because It’s probably better than this one, where the band feels comfortable with the success they’ve built having a movie named after one of their songs and they’re content to just try to get on MTV with the blandest new-wave imaginable. Well, maybe not the blandest, but you know, pretty forgettable and well, maybe I just can’t fucking stand it when bands that have actual band names put the fucking singer on the front looking like some pretentious cock and the poor less-fortunate-looking bros get shuffled to the back (and one of the bros is wearing SUNGLASSES, I mean, come ON Richard Butler! COME ON! He could be your brother! I know one of those guys is!).
Seriously, the saxophone NEVER FUCKING ENDS.
*The Wife and I are moving to Minneapolis in a couple of weeks, although I don't think you can take the Kansan out of anyone. There's like, way too much shame involved to let that shit go. And let's just say that most of that shame is built around the fact that Kansas could be so so so so SO cool and has such a fucking rad history and yet chooses to bow to these horrific goons like the Koch Bros funded Sam Brownback. Oof. And sure Minnesota has Michelle Bachmann who is just as crazy, but at least she has Al Franken and a Democrat governor to balance that crazy out.