This installment is pretty special to me. Lane and Jon Wurster are two of the funniest, most amazing people on the planet, not that either would own up to it. Lane was one of the very first people I met in Chapel Hill, before I moved here, and I remember thinking that if everyone in Chapel Hill was half as nice as Lane, I couldn’t go wrong. For the record, I would pay some serious money for a photo of Lane in the war paint and puffy shirt. I hope everyone can fully enjoy this chunk of Jon and Lane’s music memories as much as I do and as always, please let me know if you (yes, you) would like to participate in a future installment. I take nearly anybody who can tell a cool story, so send me an email at karen [at] karenbalcom [dot] com.
Band and/or song that reminds you the most of high school: Two songs that come to mind right away are “Urgent” by Foreigner and “Heat of the Moment” by Asia. I liked neither. Whenever the former comes on the radio I’m transported back to my older brother’s Honda Civic in the winter of ’82 on our way to school. I still think there is nothing crueler than making a teenager get up at six AM to brave freezing winter weather to go to school. I barely graduated and I turned out great. I mean, look how good I right.
When I hear the Asia song I’m back in my friend Matt Thorn’s powder blue Rabbit the following year. We’re bound for the mall to see what exciting new wave LPs have made their way into Music Scene since we visited last week. I play along with Carl Palmer as he does that Ronettes beat but I hit the dashboard too hard and knock out a portion of the Rabbit’s humble stereo system. Matt is rightfully upset with me.
Favorite piece of music memorabilia (poster, t-shirt, etc.) in high school:
1. A section of Adam Ant’s shirt that I caught at his show at the Tower Theater, winter of ’82.
2. A “Rio” t-shirt I got autographed by three members of Duran Duran at the Mann Music Center, summer of ’83.
3. A postcard from Michael Stipe.
I don’t think I have any of these anymore.
Band that you hated that everyone else at school seemed to love: With the exception of a few songs I never liked metal. Though I’m sure there’s good stuff I associate it with many of the super closed-minded creeps with whom I went to school. I know that is petty but I’m sticking to it.
Best high school make-out song: I don’t think I kissed a girl ’til way after high school.
Best show or concert you saw in high school:
1. U2 at the Tower Theater, May 13. 1983.
2. Ramones at Drexel University, Feb, 1983.
3. R.E.M (opening for the Police) at JFK Stadium, August, 1983.
4. Robert Hazard at Ursinus College, Nov, 1982.
Souderton Area High School, Souderton, PA Class of 1982, Currently: I do advertising and design for The Splinter Group
Band and/or song that reminds you the most of high school: That would have to be Adam and the Ants. During my senior year, there was a Radio/TV Production class in which you could shoot your own music video in the A/V Room. I wasn’t enrolled in the class, but I somehow talked the teacher into letting me shoot one for Adam’s “Stand and Deliver”. My brother and our friend Matt Thorn were in it too — as back-up swashbucklers. Full make-up, lip-synching and bad dancing. The shoot ran a bit long and I remember catching a lot of crap for showing up to my Chemistry class in leather pants, a puffy shirt and war paint.
Favorite piece of music memorabilia (poster, t-shirt, etc.) in high school: Probably the ticket stub from “seeing” Aerosmith at The Spectrum when I was 15. My neighbor was two years older than me and he was a big Aerosmith fan. He got tickets to the show (I think it was either the ‘Draw the Line’ or ‘Night in the Ruts’ tour) and we were going to drive to Philly for the show in his ’67 Camaro. But my parents were nervous about “all of the bad things that can happen at rock concerts” and didn’t want me to go. After a stand-off they proposed a family night in the city in which we’d all stay in a hotel right next to the arena. That way my buddy and I could see the show and then safely walk back to the hotel afterwards. So we drive to city with my folks and brother, check into the hotel and Dave and I walk over to the stadium. There’s a huge crowd out front and people begin trying to crash down the doors. I’m about 125 pounds at this point and I’m being moved throughout the crowd without using my feet. It’s just a huge panicked wave of stoned people. And mounted police. The police horses start bucking. Dave and I get separated. I am trying to be “cool” but I’m really scared. I’ve never really seen people on hard drugs before and it seems like a terrible dream. We finally get inside and I find Dave at our seats. Golden Earring was the opening band and they played their hit “Radar Love” twice, at the beginning and end of their set. After a fifteen minute intermission Aerosmith finally comes on stage. This is it. What we’ve all been waiting for. They rip through the first song and then someone in the crowd throws a bottle at Joe Perry’s head and the band stops playing. “Philadelphia, you’ve got a fucking problem!” says Steven Tyler. They walk off stage. The show is over. It’s 8:15. Don’t you hate when your parents are right?
Band that you hated that everyone else at school seemed to love: I’m torn between AC/DC and Rush on this one. There were lots of parties my junior year at which AC/DC seemed to have been the constant soundtrack. The football players and wrestlers would all play air guitar and pump their fists to that “Dirty Knees and the Thunder Chief” song. I never really got it. The guy I rode to school with my sophomore year was pretty into Rush. No wait, that was the name of the inhalant he had in his glove compartment.
Best high school make-out song: Stevie Nicks’ “Leather and Lace”. Like most guys, I got into hard-core bondage during my junior year. What with all the Amish and Mennonite girls in our town, “Leather and Lace” really spoke to me.
Best show or concert you saw in high school: There was this amazing/bizarre show at a New Jersey horse race track (Liberty Race Track) in 1981. The Police, The Go-Go’s, The Specials (!!!), Oingo Boingo & The Coasters.Six of us packed into our tiny Honda Civic and drove a hours to see the show. The Specials were incredible. A friend of mine “fell asleep” during the show and we covered his face with cigarette butts and trash we found. That’s what friends are for, right?
In the spirit of welcoming a new year and saying goodbye to 2010, I want to thank everyone who has played a big part in my writing life over the last year. I can now say that I have spent an entire year writing Bring Me Back, although to be more precise, it’s more like fourteen months. I learned a lot about myself over the course of 2010—about what I’m capable of and how writing plays into that.
Warning: this is going to sound like chicken soup, but I’m going to say it anyway. When I write, I feel like myself. It doesn’t always make me happy or feel like I’m perfectly fulfilled and it certainly doesn’t mean that my problems go away. I’m just me, at least for a little while. I suggest fostering this in yourself whenever possible.
Thanks to my husband, Steve, for unconditionally supporting me even when he has no idea what I’m doing or why I’m doing it.
Thanks to Sara, my cheerleader, for reading dozens and dozens of revisions and always “getting” what I’m going for.
Thanks to Karen, my writing critique partner, who isn’t afraid to tell me when something sucks and is happy to watch me tear it apart and put it back together.
Thanks to friends who pushed me to get better—Bill Williams, Sam Stephenson, Laurie Cochenour, Sarah Dessen, and Heather Ross.
Thanks to friends who went above and beyond to help and encourage—Jane Greathouse, Maura Partrick, Jennifer Resnick, Jared Resnick, John Strohm, and Jay Faires.
And thanks to all of my early readers—Karrie Adamany, Angie Mack, Lisa Kaylie, Evette Horton, Christie Oppliger, Mairead Maloney Eastin, Melissa Cain, Amy Barefoot, Smudge, Jill Mango, Sarah Austin, Ashley Mattison, Fran Wittman, Monica Shelton, Annette Alicea, Jane Sangster, and Diane Tameecha. Love you guys!
Installment #2: Monica Myers Shelton, Jordy Birch, Jane Greathouse
We all have memories of high school that are inexorably tied to music, right? (Hey, I’m pretty sure about this one–wrote an entire book based on that idea.) So, I’m starting a new feature on the blog, five questions about music and high school, answered by anyone who wants to take part. I’ll be posting these in blocks of three. Let me know if you want to take a stab at it or if you know someone who should take part. Just send me an e-mail at karen [at] karenbalcom [dot] com. And since I’m going to be a good sport, I answered the questions in this first installment. Have fun!
John P. Strohm
Bloomington High School South, Bloomington, IN, Class of 1985, Currently: musician, entertainment lawyer
Band and/or song that reminds you the most of high school: TV Party by Black Flag. When I first got into the punk scene in my town, there weren’t any all-ages shows or other organized events. We had parties. I started going to punk parties when I was in ninth grade. The parties were thrown by older kids – juniors or seniors in high school – but they were mostly in my neighborhood so I could walk there on my own. Usually I’d go without my parents’ permission, but my older brother was usually around to rat me out. Nevertheless, these parties were so much fun I’d have risked being grounded forever.
I remember hearing Black Flag’s Damaged album at one of these parties. I picked it from a dozen or so LPs scattered around the floor. I’d heard of the group, but I’d never heard their music. The first song I played was TV Party. ”We’re gonna have a TV party tonight…ALRIGHT!” When I hear that now, it’s almost as if I can smell the spilled beer – it’s transporting. It’s not that it’s a particularly good song; there are plenty of punk songs I like better…plenty of Black Flag songs I like better. But that song just works that particular magic in my brain, no matter how many times I hear it. I can feel the excitement of being young and finally finding my place in the world, my people. It brings back so many amazing memories.
Favorite piece of music memorabilia (poster, t-shirt, etc.) from high school: I have a Minutemen T-shirt I had in high school, but that’s about it. I’m lousy about keeping things from those days. My favorite post-high school memento I have is the test pressing from the first Blake Babies album. Holding that in my hands for the first time was such a thrill.
Band that you hated that everyone else at school seemed to love: U2. I don’t so much hate U2 now, though I never really caught the bug. But there was this guy named Oly in my high school who I thought was a total asshole. And he liked U2, so I associated them with Oly. Also U2 seemed so self-important and humorless. I loved REM, but for some reason I felt like U2 was the anti-REM. I can kind of see that now.
Best high school make-out song: One of the first dates I went on with my first girlfriend (Freda, we were together 8 years) was to the movie Valley Girl. We both loved that song I Melt With You by Modern English. It was obscure back then – didn’t become a “hit” until years later. That sort of became “our song,” and we’d listen to it often when we managed to find time to be alone. That did the trick. The first time I made out with a girl – summer before 8th grade, 1980, was to “Time” by Alan Parsons Project.
Most memorable show or concert you saw in high school: I almost exclusively went to punk shows in high school, with the odd exception (lots of Police shows early on, Psychedelic Furs, Stray Cats, Go-gos, etc.). We used to have these punk/hardcore shows in rented rooms – an empty loft above the Salvation Army store, an unused church in Indianapolis, the old library in Bloomington (the unused building across the street from the new library, built in the mid-70s). But although we had national touring acts, the same one or maybe two hundred kids showed up every time. You’d see a little polite slam-dancing, lots of bro activity. But it wasn’t really violent.
While visiting schools in D.C. during my senior year (late 1984), I went to see a show at this place called the Wilson Center. Government Issue and Marginal Man, a couple others. I swear there were 800 kids there, and they were going berserk. I associated D.C. with straight edge, but many of these kids were drinking and getting high. As soon as the first band came on, kids started stage-diving, one after the other – a dozen for every one-minute song – into this massive pit. I stood along the sidelines for the first hour or so, finding my courage. Then I totally went for it – jumping in the pit and stage diving during the Government Issue set. It was a huge rush. Strangely, that was one of the last hardcore shows I ever went to. After that night, I’d sort of had enough. But man that was fun.
Jenn Halter Prenda
Kings Mountain High School, Kings Mountain, NC, Class of 1993, Currently: Mommin’, Marketing and Advertising
Band and/or song that reminds you the most of high school: Yes, Pearl Jam, Matthew Sweet, Peter Gabriel, haha the Black Crowes (Shake)
Favorite piece of music memorabilia (poster, t-shirt, etc.) from high school: gosh I have no idea, I didn’t save much music wise from then…I have a Yes poster…I’m sure there’s others but nothing stands out
Band that you hated that everyone else at school seemed to love: Barenaked Ladies or maybe Sugar Ray
Best high school make-out song: In Your Eyes (Peter G) seems about right
Most memorable show or concert you saw in high school: The only 2 shows I saw live while in HS were Yes (10th grade) and Lollapalooza w/Alice in Chains, Arrested Dev….(12th)
Park High School, Cottage Grove, MN, Class of 1986, Currently: writing, being mom
Band and/or song that reminds you the most of high school: I would have to say U2, anything off of the Unforgettable Fire. I used to go to school early every morning my Junior year, and I would sit on the floor in front of my locker, with my Walkman, and listen to that tape over and over. I was not a very happy camper that year, not completely sure why, and that music left me suitably depressed and feeling like there was good reason for it.
Favorite piece of music memorabilia (poster, t-shirt, etc.) in high school: The thing I wish I still owned more than anything is my black Suburbs t-shirt (lost in the fire). One of my fave Minneapolis bands, and such a cool shirt. That was the first band I would regularly go into “the pit” for—mostly because there were lots of cute guys in said pit, but they weren’t dangerous like they were at the “real” punk shows.
Band that you hated that everyone else at school seemed to love: Everybody in my school loved REO Speedwagon and they made me feel like throwing up. I can’t even look at dude from REO without feeling sick. My friends and I used to call them Oreo Chuckwagon.
Best high school make-out song: Hmmmm…”Please Please Please Let Me Get What I Want” by the Smiths (although I suppose “Reel Around the Fountain” is more appropriate…fifteen minutes with you, I wouldn’t say no…) or “Girls on Film” by Duran Duran, but these would only be if I could go back and orchestrate the circumstances. I don’t remember any good music and I certainly don’t remember being given the option of picking something to listen to.
Best show or concert you saw in high school: Violent Femmes at First Avenue with my BFF Jane. She and I were so into it—dancing around like crazy and everyone else was so lame. At least it felt that way. Some guy flicked a cigarette ash and it went in Jane’s shoe. I remember the day Jane bought the first album, her mother was absolutely horrified by the lyrics. I think she actually stormed out of the room crying or maybe that’s my overly-dramatic adolescent memory.
I read an article about a woman who was shocked when she looked at her husband’s iPod while he was in the shower. Sounds innocent enough, but she found something, or someone, that disturbed her, deeply–Debbie Boone. It took her weeks to get over it; her husband’s manly mojo was erased by “You Light Up My Life”. Personally, I would’ve laughed my ass off if I found Debbie Boone on Steve’s iPod, so, I was wondering–what’s the most embarrassing song on your iPod?