Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Awesome 80’s… Rad!*

So R- had to work on Sunday, so I spent much of the afternoon organizing my music collection in iTunes (which led to an entire evening of fighting off viral infection for my poor computers and playing doctor but that’s another story), but given that the files on my computer are spread over two hard drives and contain the remnants of 5 computers and 6 hard-drives spread out over the past 11 years, the effort to consolidate my mp3 collection was quite the archaeological affair.

The task was made easier by modern tools like iTunes, and Google Search, but they still certainly didn’t make it easy (stupid Apple, with oversimplified programs that miss basic features, and stupid new iPod that crashes every few days). In the process I dug up the first mp3 I ever downloaded “track7.mp3” which (perhaps embarrassingly) was Love Fool by the Cardigans as the movie Romeo+Juliet had just come out. The excavation was of particular concern because somehow in the computer migrations I had lost a playlist full of mp3s from a few albums I downloaded in college: Awesome 80’s, Totally 80’s, and the sound track to Romy and Michelle’s High School Reunion Volumes I and II.

Recovering the playlist on my iPod has definitely changed up the sound track of the walking portion of my commute, about an hour each day all together, which has been almost exclusively NPR podcasts. Today, I queued up the old playlist, and found myself having a grand ole time.

I hadn’t even paid much attention to music back then, but somehow the music of the era suffused my life’s experiences, from age 2 to 12. They certainly pervaded the movies that continued to be replayed on network TV for years after the 80’s came to a close. I think they speak to me more just because they are all so optimistic, cheerful, literally upbeat, before Nirvana ruined all of that for the 90’s.

Coming to them now is also new, as I come to them with more bits and pieces of musical theory picked up over the years from high school and college concert band, musical theater in grad school, abortive attempts to take up piano and guitar, a couple music theory classes, late night chats with my musician friend, and classical music concerts. So I better appreciate the key changes, the power chords, the swung eighth notes. A palimpsest** of experiences that have changed the way I hear the same songs (maybe my nice new bose x-mas headphones helped too). Though at the end of the day, R-‘s influence has probably been greatest, most responsible for changing how I relate to the music of my childhood.

Ah Rad* times. Like Totally!

* PS. The inclusion of Rad, another relic of the 80’s, is thanks to my current cultural hipster brother A-, which must mean that the word is going to be coming back into style again. Figured I’d get in ahead of the curve.

** PPS. In the context of all these archaeological metaphors, I was trying really hard to work in the most obscure word I know: palimpsest.

PPS. Actually, having been programming computers since I was 6, I'm actually fairly careful about how I organize files, but still hard to really keep it up. In theory, if you gave me enough time, I could find every e-mail I have ever received in the past 11 years.
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