Looking at music through the lens of youth is a funny thing. Whatever you liked can make you seem like a goof or a genius, depending on the band, and a lot of that comes down to sheer luck. Like everything that may or may not have gone your way as a kid, you can blame it on your parents if you want. My parents played me The Beatles and The Stones and Cheap Trick when I was a kid and I loved it all. Very cool. But then my Dad went and bought me the Shaun Cassidy record I wanted for my birthday. Clearly, he had no regard for what I might be training my ears to like. He didn’t stop there, buying the Rick Springfield album for me the following year. Yep, he allowed me to go right off the rails. In his defense, he was being a good dad. In my defense, there were hormones at play. And yes, before some of you cry foul, I still heart Rick and “Love Is Alright Tonight” is on my iPod. Cool? Probably not. Did I love it? Hell, yes.
Cherry Creek High School, Denver, CO, Class of 1979, Currently: music critic/arts reporter for the News & Observer in Raleigh, NC (at least until the next round of downsizing).
Band and/or song that reminds you the most of high school: Eagles, “New Kid in Town.” After freshman year, my family moved from Texas to Denver in the summer of 1976; and it seemed as if every radio station up there had “Hotel California” in constant rotation (seriously, it’s like they were all playing the same eight-track tape over and over). I went from a small high school of a few hundred students to a gigantic one with more than 3,000, and I don’t think I ever got over that new-kid feeling. Hearing this always makes me feel like I’m 15 and scared and walking into the cafeteria. Anything by Boston would be a close second, followed by “Frampton Comes Alive”; also the Moody Blues, just cuz I listened to them a lot back then (hearing them now always reminds me of driving up to the mountains for day skiing).
Favorite piece of music memorabilia (poster, t-shirt, etc.) in high school: Well, there was the obligatory Farah Fawcett poster every adolescent boy in America had circa 1976, but that’s not music. Probably a Bad Company T-shirt, although I never saw them live (then or now). I just liked the shirt.
Band you hated that everyone else at school seemed to love: Regrettably, I had a serious jones back then for wimpy singer/songwriters (er, Dan Fogelberg — *blush*). So I didn’t much dig hard rock in high school. Once I was in college, I got over that in a hurry. But I had very little use for anything loud, including the Aerosmiths and Led Zeppelins of the world; both of which I love now. Father forgive me, for I was deeply, deeply clueless during my high-school years.
Best show or concert you saw in high school: Hard to say because I didn’t really go to that many shows until college. First “concert” I ever saw was the Cowsills at a car show when I was 10 years old, and my parents took me to the Carpenters about 2-3 years later. First show I went to sans parents was Rolling Stones in Boulder during high school, but I was appallingly nerdy/clean-cut and it was too freaky a scene for me to really enjoy it. Oddly enough, the show that stands out the most from that period was Bill Cosby in about 1978-79. Pretty hilarious, and I find myself busting out some of his routines about “brain-damaged children” on my own kids.
Optional bonus question: Best high school make-out song: Aerosmith, “Dream On.” Not that I ever actually made out to it; but from middle-school on, every cotillion, prom, party or whatever else I went to always had this as The Obligatory Slow Song. To any & every girl who had to suffer through my awkward dance “moves”: I’m sorry.
David Menconi is the author of the novel Off the Record. You can learn more about him at davidmenconi.com.
I just scored my tickets to see Duran Duran in Washington, DC on October 16th and I feel like I’m about to leap out of my skin. I’ve admittedly been on a bit of a DD kick for the last year or so, mostly due to the new record, which I LOVE. I haven’t LOVED a DD record since “Rio”. Parts of “Seven and the Ragged Tiger” are great and I’ve liked something from every record since, but I adore the new one. Just ask my kids. It’s all we listen to in the car. So, yes, it would have been easy to pick “Hungry Like the Wolf” or one of my favorites like “Nightboat”, but I thought it best to celebrate the present.
Duran Duran “All You Need Is Now”