Monday, May 10, 2021

Child of the 1980's - Introduction to Music


                Music has the ability to conjure up emotion without effort.  A favorite song can make a bad day better.  It can make a workout amazing, a road trip epic, a thunderstorm legendary, and so much more. 
                We all have those songs and artists which bring those emotions up within us.  However do you ever stop to think about where it all began?  Not necessarily how you came to love whatever your music of choice is, but how you were first introduced to music period?
                This question does not need to be relegated to a specific time or age group, someone whose first musical love was Justin Bieber is just as valid as someone who saw The Beatles on the Ed Sullivan Show.  Music is a gateway to the soul. 

A Fisher-Price Phonograph(Wikimedia)

                For me as a child of the 1980’s my musical introductions definitely fit the period.  I was a child who owned vinyl albums and a Fisher-Price record player.  I was a child who was amazed by audio cassette tapes and the Sony Walkman.  I was a child who when he became a teenager saw the wide availability of something called a Compact Disc.  It was on compact disc that I purchased the album that changed my life more than any other, Nirvana’s Nevermind in 1991.  I still own that CD despite it having a severe case of CD rot after 26 years.  However I can still remember vividly two musical milestones in my childhood that I will share.  One is the first song I can actually remember playing, two is the first album I remember owning that I really loved.
                The first song that I can remember hearing was (Just Like) Starting Over by John Lennon.  

     I still have a vivid picture in my head of what that song brings up.  The song itself was released October 24, 1980 as the lead single from his upcoming Double Fantasy album.  The album was a comeback for the former Beatle after spending five years in a semi-retirement.  It comes as no surprise to myself looking back that my introduction to music should be connected to The Beatles as my father grew up as a diehard fan, even a member of the fan club during the mid-1960’s. 
                I have fond memories of hearing that song and album at my Nana’s house.  Though I cannot pinpoint that date I know that it must have been early spring of 1981 as I can remember windows and doors open likely as my Nana would have said ‘to air out the house after winter.’ 
                John Lennon would be murdered on December 8, 1980, only three weeks after Double Fantasy was released.  It catapulted the initially lukewarmly received album into the stratosphere.  After (Just Like) Starting Over other hits would come including Watching the Wheels, Woman, and Beautiful Boy.  It became a sad cap to an amazing musical legacy.
                The first album I remember owning and loving should come as no shock due to my age.  Michael Jackson’s Thriller album dropped just after my 5th birthday in 1982 and I was given a copy as a Christmas present.  The nine songs became the soundtrack to my life for a time.  There were many an occasion when the openings beats of Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’ would be blasting on that Fisher-Price record player that I had conveniently stuck in our living room window so that all of the neighborhood kids could come and dance in the front yard.

                It helped that MTV had videos for Billie Jean, Thriller, and Beat It on constant rotation.  Even if I had not gotten the album for Christmas, I would have been asking for it all of 1983.  The album set all sorts of sales and awards marks.  Representatives for Sony Entertainment who owned Epic Records which released Thriller said in February 2017 that the album has sold over 105 million copies worldwide.
                Michael Jackson became the biggest star in the world and his videos were legendary.  For those under 30 it might be hard to separate the more tragic figure Jackson became from the undeniable musical genius he was in the 1980’s.  Back then he was every bit the King of Pop that he named himself later on.  Thriller is to this day the only full album I have on my iPod.
                What are you first memories of music in your childhood?  No matter what your age is those first memories are strong and can shape your tastes forever.  I can look back today and realize how my parents influenced my musical preferences.  Thanks for reading and stay tuned for more totally tubular 1980’s memories!


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