Saturday, July 16, 2016

The Summer of 1985

A few days back, I watched the 2009 movie Adventureland. The soundtrack is better than the movie (which was miscast and poorly written), but the plot, such as it is, reminded me of my own summer of 1985. I won't go into too many details about that summer here, but I'll offer a few:
  • After my first year away from home studying music at a state university, I returned to my parents' home for the summer, working 8-5 at a local plumbing supply house. One of the best jobs I've ever had in my 50 years, the unofficial motto of the joint was "open with a dozen donuts, close with a six pack of beer." I hope they're still doing that.
  • On some evenings and weekends, I taught trumpet lessons to junior high students. I was horrible and the whole thing was a disaster (one of the worst jobs I've ever had in my 50 years).
  • I took night classes from a nearby junior college. The classes were taught at my old high school by one of my high school history teachers making some summer money as an adjunct professor. I cheated but still only "earned" B's in both. If that teacher is still around, he probably continues to use the exact same exams every year.
  • While my weekday nights were filled with school, I did manage dates with at least five different young ladies over the summer. All this while away from my college girlfriend. Yes, I was that guy. I finally couldn't handle the guilt and broke up with college girlfriend in mid-June. She immediately started dating a good friend of mine. What goes around...
  • I turned 19, which was the legal drinking age in Texas at that time. My 19th birthday fell on a Sunday, which meant I went to church instead of a bar.
  • Speaking of church, I performed solos in worship services at least twice that summer, including an ill-advised performance of an unaccompanied flugelhorn transcription of a Pat Metheny piece.
  • I listened to a little bit of Live Aid on the radio, but didn't watch any on TV. With the exception of Stop Making Sense, I still don't like watching concerts on TV or film. Instead, me and some college friends hung out at Waterworld, the water park adjacent to Astroworld.
    I hit on every female lifeguard I could find, embarrassing myself greatly. We then ate supper at Steak & Ale and barely had enough money between us to cover the check. Silly kids.
  • I attended only one concert that summer: Al Jarreau with David Sanborn opening. Great show. Got my first speeding ticket on the way home.
    8th row, baby!
  • My family weren't "picture takers" by any means, but I was able to locate one photo of myself from the summer of 1985 taken at my sister's college graduation in late May.

    Dig that crazy curly mullet!
  • If we went on a family vacation that summer, I have no memory of it. My sister had immediately started grad school and wasn't home, so I had the run of the house.

As for the music, the theme song for the summer was Eurythmics' "Would I Lie to You" with no other song remotely in the running for the title. But I dug up an old mix CD that I made around the year 2000 (which I cleverly titled "Summer of '85") to provide some insight into what else I was spinning at that time.  Here's the track list of that CD, including Billboard Hot 100 chart data. I've also included videos because that was an intricate part of the music experience at that time. Turns out my CD playlist is not exactly anachronistically accurate, but that's what sex, drugs, and rock 'n roll does to your memory.

  1. "You're Only Human (Second Wind)" - Billy Joel (#9)

    note: for an actor, Billy is a heckuva musician.

  2. "Head Over Heels" - Tears for Fears (#3)

  3. "Bang a Gong (Get It On)" - The Power Station (#9)

    note: this track continues to hold up, probably because Tony Thompson destroyed his kit while recording

  4. "Money for Nothing" - Dire Straits (#1)

  5. "Can't Get There from Here" - R.E.M. (#110)

  6. "Voices Carry" - 'Til Tuesday (#8)

  7. "A View to a Kill" - Duran Duran (#1)

  8. "Would I Lie to You?" - Eurhythmics (#5)

    note: can you imagine starting a concert with this song as they do in the video? No place to go after that one.

  9. "Miami Vice Theme" - Jan Hammer (#1)

  10. "The Night is Still Young" - Billy Joel (#34)

  11. "Everybody Wants to Rule the World" - Tears for Fears (#1)

  12. "Addicted to Love" - Robert Palmer (#1 in 1986)

    note: yum

  13. "Walk of Life" - Dire Straits (#7 in 1986)

    note: if you click no other videos on this page, at least go check out "The Walk of Life Project"

I shoulda added these songs to the CD, space permitting:
"Everything She Wants" by Wham! (#1)
"Raspberry Beret" by Prince (#2)
"Easy Lover" by Philip Bailey and Phil Collins (#2)
"Dancing in the Streets" by David Bowie and Mick Jagger  (#7)
"California Girls" by David Lee Roth (#3)
and probably a few more that will occur to me in coming weeks.

In addition to the albums that contained the above singles, here are a few other albums that remind me of that summer - some released that summer, others simply tied to memories of that summer (in no particular order):

The Falcon and The Snowman - Soundtrack (#54)
Vocalese - The Manhattan Transfer (#74)
The George Benson Collection (#14 in 1982)
The Doors (#2 in 1967)
Dream of the Blue Turtles - Sting (#2)
Tonight - David Bowie (#11 in 1984)
Stop Making Sense - Talking Heads (#41 in 1984)

Alternating Currents - Spyro Gyra (#66)
Black Codes (From the Underground) - Wynton Marsalis (#118)
The Voice - Bobby McFerrin
First Circle - Pat Metheny Group (#91 in 1984)
Wide Awake in America - U2 (#37)
Welcome to the Pleasuredome - Frankie Goes to Hollywood (#33 in 1984)
Mesopotamia - The B-52's (#35 in 1982)
Stay Tuned - Chet Atkins (#145)

1 comment :

  1. This is all great stuff.

    Terrific insight into the music and events that shaped the soft rock kid.

    If we were playing the one of these things is not like the others game from Sesame Street, I'd have to choose The Doors album.