Monday, March 11, 2013

The End of the Eighties - REVIVAL!

I am a nostalgia whore. And music is almost always a trigger for me. Probably close to 15 years ago I sat down and just wrote lists and lists of songs and a one or two sentence description of what immediately comes to mind when I hear those songs. This list of music and associations spans my entire life – from the pop music and 8-tracks my sister first exposed me to in the ’70s and early ’80s to the classic and hard rock I that shaped my middle school and early high school years of the mid-’80s to the alternative college rock of the late ’80s that defined some of the most influential times in my young adulthood.

Somewhere around a dozen years ago, I created a pair of CD sets for my wife and close college friends, compiling songs that I felt captured our shared history from that last era. These exercises collided spectacularly a few years ago when, after thoughtfully combining the two playlists into a single, five-hour-plus late ’80s time capsule, I originally sat down to write about each of the tracks. Seventy songs about 24 months, each track taking me on a different journey. Sometimes diving into the artist’s history, sometimes into my personal history, sometimes on tangents I never expected, I made my way through the first 13 tracks, then life got in the way. It’s an exercise I’ve wanted to revisit for quite a while, but I didn’t want to publish anything more until I was certain I could devote the time to it the project deserves.

My favorite outcome from when I originally published the first 13 tracks here was receiving feedback from not just the people who were there, but also encouragement from people whose musical opinion I value, like Matt Sebastian over at Slicing Up Eyeballs and Dave Purcell. I was also amazed by the way my writing provided a catalyst for people from my past to engage me – like Matt Kish, who I referenced in Track 10 – when I had no idea they were out there, let alone reading my blog or remembered me more than 20 years later.

It’s the memory of those exchanges – sometimes just brief Twitter responses, sometimes lengthy email conversations – that has kept this project alive in my head over the last few years. In January, I set out to resume this creative workout, and I have been writing furiously ever since, picking up right where I had left off with Track 14 and plowing ahead with renewed creative energies. I intend to post a track a week until this thing is compete, and my ultimate goals remain the same as they did when this project was originally launched: When finished, you’ll have some perspective on the music of the era, a window into the events that shaped me into the person I have become, and the blueprint for a kickass ’80s playlist! 

Links to the introduction and the first 13 tracks can be found here, as well as along the right side of the blog in the “End of the Eighties” section. I hope you’ll take the time over the next few days to revisit the original tracks and continue to come back each Wednesday for new songs over the next year or so to add to the playlist as we time travel together, letting the music take us where my memory bends, and I hope you'll join the conversation by commenting on the blog, as well as spread the word far and wide on Twitter, Google+, and Facebook.


Kirk D. said...

What a fun project. Musical landmarks are a neat way to trace our life's journey, and like you said, it's such a powerful conductor when it reaches our brains.

A new road trip "game" that I've discovered is to play random songs on the radio and take turns sharing the first memory they bring to mind. The results are often very unexpected and the conversation is often fresh.

(BTW, as I've read a few of these entries I keep wanting the push-button gratification of an embedded youtube clip or something. Did you consider including such a feature?)

AB said...

So glad you're digging this!

When the first 13 tracks were originally posted, I did include audio of the song in the blog post. Over time, though, that simply got too cumbersome and occasionally wonky, so I went back and removed the code for the music from all of the posts. When relaunching the project, I thought long and hard about adding audio or video. Ultimately, though, I decided against doing it across the board for a couple of reasons... First, and most importantly, the posts are about more than just the music, they are about the memories stirred and the histories of the bands. While the music is the catalyst, the actual songs could almost be considered secondary to the exercise I'm undertaking here. Second, I am a perfectionist and decidedly Type A, and I would need every post uniform in format. This would translate to a lot of work and frustration on my part for a project that I'm doing for fun and personal enjoyment. That said, I have been toying with including official videos in the blog posts when available, so you might see one pop up every now and again as we move forward.

Thanks again for the kind words! Feel free to keep the conversation going on individual tracks as they are posted each week. It's always great to get feedback and encouragement, especially on a project of this size!