Tuesday, January 27, 2009

1984, Oldies On The Car Radio

I'm 30...and I can't believe that's actually true. Thirty! Fuck, it still sounds intense spelled out. I can't say it's passed by quickly, because it feels like I've been alive a long time. All the requisite good times, bad times, strange times and the few even-keeled times add up. Over the next few days, I'll write about the times that stand out and the music that brings them rushing back. Some of them are just moments, flickers in my mind that last only a second(but bring a big smile). Others leave me shaking me head, wondering what I was thinking. Some are obvious. Others are the kind of quirky, funny little moments that appear inexplicably vivid against otherwise hazy times. Some of them weigh on me(and I've tried to shake them off, rattling them like Marley's chains), while others remind me why it's great to be alive. For better or for worse, this is how I've spent the last three decades.


1984, 5 Years Old

I don't want to go to school, I want to be in bed. In my pajamas. With my Voltron blanket. Warm.

Scott has it so easy, even if he is smaller than me and still has to use the car seat. He gets to stay with Grandma Estelle. All. Day.

I have to go to school and do worksheets. I like worksheets OK, except when Ms. Dunlap makes me do them her way. Yesterday, I liked the last problem best so I did that. The middle problems had triangles in them, so then I did those. I like filling in the insides of all the Os, Ps, Ds, 8s, 6s and Gs with my pencil - so I did that, then the first problem. She said it was like an ox way of doing things, and I should do it first to last.

Sigh...school is so boring.

Mom is rinsing out her coffee mug, almost time to go. Yes, I have my backpack. Yes, I have my lunch. Yes, I brushed my teeth. Yes, yes yes yes!

No, I didn't forget anything. No, I don't have to go the bathroom. No, I'm not all ready for school. I'm all ready for my GI Joes!!! I'm ready for - ouch! Yes this coat is zipped tight enough! - a pop tart and orange juice.

It's still dark. Why get up when it's still dark? Grownups make no sense. Scott goes in the car seat, but I can put my seat-belt on by myself now! Mom gets in, Dad starts the car. Doesn't take long for the car to warm us up, though I never can tell the exact moment when it's not cold anymore. I try and try to pay attention, to see if I can tell, and every morning BAM, it's just warm all of a sudden and I didn't even realize it.

I like our car, it's named after a rabbit. I also like that my Dad and Mom like to listen to music! Sarah and Steve told me their Dad only listens to people talking, the entire car ride to Grandma Estelle's! That sounds so boring. I get to listen to The Beatles, The Beach Boys, The Four Tops, The Temptations, Simon and Garfunkel, The Monkees(the ones from the TV show!), The Supremes, The Rolling Stones, Aretha Franklin and a bunch of other people. Band names are so cool. Like superhero names, or sports teams.

House of The Rising Sun, The Animals

Oh! It's the song about the house in New Orleans. I really like the guys voice. He really sounds like he's sad, but not in a crying way. Guys aren't supposed to cry. And the music(Dad said it has an organ) sounds so spooky. I wonder what a gambler is? And how can a house ruin anyone?

House Of The Rising Sun - THE ANIMALS

Good Vibrations, The Beach Boys

I like the Beach Boys because they sing about cars. Fast cars. And surfing, like Dad used to do. Dad says this is about a guy liking a girl. I guess no band is perfect.

Good Vibrations - The Beach Boys

Hey Jude, The Beatles

This song is by the Beatles, and it's LONG. Dad said Jude is a guys name in England, where the Beatles are from. I wish I was from England, then I could sing like the Beatles. I like it when he screams JUDE JUDE JUDEYYY JUDEEY JUDDEYY HEYYY WAAAAHWOWOW! I want to sing like that! I like the tambourine and the drumming.

I also like their song about holding hands( the only acceptable thing you can do with a girl, if you ask me). And that song "Eight Days A Week"(I guess weeks are longer in England), and the song about feeling fine, the one about paperback writers, the one about a car(only one though, they must have more cars in California than in England), the one about sleeping, the one about standing and dancing. And that song about a Yellow Tambourine or something. They sure do have a lot of songs.

The Beatles - Hey Jude - The Beatles

The News

Uh-oh, they are talking about the Redskins. Dad is still mad they lost the Super Bowl. He doesn't seem too upset though...wow, I never noticed his hair touched the car's ceiling. All red and poofy. Why do we listen to the traffic report? We always drive the same way. I want to be the traffic guy, he gets to ride in a helicopter! Mom says I should pay attention because they are talking about Michael Jackson. That tape cousin Susan made me is so cool, it has 'Beat It' and 'Thriller'! I love the video, but the werewolf part is pretty scary. What? He burned his hair off? While drinking Pepsi? That doesn't make any sense. Life is confusing. And school doesn't help.

Oh, mom says it was because he was making a commercial. I wonder if I ask too many questions. Sometimes I ask my parents something I already know: I want to see if they are going to tell me the truth(or if I know something they don't).

Do You Love Me?(Now That I Can Dance), The Contours

Why would anyone not love someone because they couldn't dance? There sure were a lot of dances back then...the twist sounds like the most fun. I love it when the song disappears for a while then comes back. Boys sure do a lot of work for girls in these songs.

Do You Love Me - The Contours

Last Train To Clarksville, The Monkees

My favorite Monkee, Mickey, sings most of their songs. He's the funniest one(at least on TV, their songs aren't really funny). He doesn't know if he's ever coming home. I don't blame the Monkees, I'd get on a train to get away from coffee-flavored kisses too. Sounds horrible.

Last Train To Clarksville - The Monkees

Land of 1000 Dances, Wilson Pickett

Dad says the title of this song is 'Land of a 1000 Dances', but he never says it. Is that allowed?

Land Of A Thousand Dances - Wilson Pickett

Shop Around, Smokey Robison and The Miracles

I wonder...did Dad 'shop around'? Did he get a bargain? Or was he sold on the very first one? Even though they are icky, it is strangely comforting to know pretty girls come a dime a dozen.

Shop Around - Smokey Robinson And The Miracles

ABC, The Jackson Five

Mom and Dad say this is Michael Jackson when he was a kid. He and his brothers were The Jackson 5. That's crazy, a kid in a band! Could me and my friends form a band? I love this part: 'A B C...it's easy as 1 2 3', it sounds so happy. They must have been such a happy family.

ABC - Jackson Five

Kodachrome, Paul Simon

Oh my god. They let him say a swear word on the radio. If I said that, I'd be sitting in the corner for at least an hour. Did my parents hear him? Are they going to change the station? They aren't doing anything. It got by them. Good, this song feels like a race. A fast car ride. Especially at the end, when Paul Simon sings faster. And it has piano; not enough songs have piano.

Kodachrome (Album Version) - BARRY BECKETT

Satisfaction, The Rolling Stones

If I could play the guitar, I would play the beginning of "Satisfaction" over and over. It sounds dangerous. They sound dangerous. Dad says people thought they were thugs back when he was a kid, and that Mick Jagger was a punk. I can hear it. He's sneering. He can't get satisfaction, despite trying - a lot, apparently(he's on a losing streak). And there are lot of people he's mad at about it. Plus, he smokes! Yeah, they are definitely dangerous. They're....unbelievably cool.

(I cant get no) Satisfaction - The Rolling Stones

Heard It Through The Grapevine, Marvin Gaye

Now, I know raisins sing this song on TV, but this version is much better. And I know a woman sings another version, but I hate it when the radio plays that instead of this version. Marvin Gaye. I say his name every time the song plays; I need to remember who he is. My Dad told me he was shot by his own father! My Mom said "John! Don't tell them things like that!", but he said he was just being honest and I could understand. I'm not sure I do, but it's really sad. His voice is like honey, rich and sweet. And it's gone. Damn, disrespectful raisins.

I Heard It Through The Grapevine - Marvin Gaye


I love the final, roundy turn up the hill to Grandma Estelle's. I can feel my stomach dip. Estelle's house is on top of a great big hill; a hill that would be so much fun to play on, climb up and tumble down - but we can't! She says we'll tear it up. So it just sits there. Boring. Estelle is nice, but confusing. Sometimes, instead of cereal, she gives us cereal with "fruit cocktail" on it. I don't like fruit cocktail(it's slimy and weird), but Estelle says it's rude of me not to finish what she gives me. Isn't it also rude to feed someone something they don't like it? When I'm grown I won't do that.

Alright, time to go. Dad has to carry Scott, he's asleep! Baby gets to sleep all morning, all day, and then go home and play with his toys. I used to do that, now I have school. Hmm...seems like life only gets worse as you get older, you have to do more and more stuff you don't want to do, but you are "supposed" to do. I have to go to school, Mom and Dad have to go to work. There must be something good about getting older. Well, you get to tell kids what to do. And you can stay up late. You can buy anything you want(though Mom and Dad don't have a lot of toys).

Whatever good growing up is, I guess I'll find out.