When I started this blog, I called it The Jerry Project for a reason. I identified myself as a reclamation project and as much as I have written about getting in shape, fitness is not all I had in mind. I thought, from time to time, I’d write about the other things I was doing to maintain (or regain in some cases) my emotional and mental well-being. For all of the things I have done, the places I’ve been, the people I’ve known, good and bad, I’m somewhat fairly well adjusted. I firmly believe that we are products of our environment, experiences and choices. Some things we choose, some things choose us. Some things resonate while others do not.
This is about two things that chose me.
I went through a brief period a few years ago when music wasn’t that important to me. I didn’t listen much. Then I discovered Pandora. I commute and now listen to SiriusXM in the car every day. Music is very important to me once again.
My father was a disc jockey in the late 1960s-early 1970s. I grew up on big band, jazz and Frank Sinatra. I didn’t care for much of it. I was a typical child and rebelled against almost everything my parents liked. It’s not like Dad didn’t introduce me to rock ‘n’ roll. I still enjoy quite a bit of that music – Paul Revere and the Raiders, the Association, Tommy James and the Shondells and more.
Much of my musical taste as a child was influenced by AM radio and Kasey Kasem’s American Top 40 (RIP Kasey). After listening to AT 40 every week with bated breath to learn the #1 song, only to be disappointed and tortured by Debby Boone’s version of You Light Up My Life for 10 weeks in 1977. I was only seven, but I knew I hated this song. Eventually, I longed for some sort of musical identity, a soundtrack, a genre or genres to call my own.
My neighborhood friends were a bit older than me and they liked a lot of rock I didn’t care for at the time. It was only later did I develop an appreciation for Led Zepplin, Pink Floyd and the like. We didn’t have middle schools where I grew up. However, I was accepted at a new magnet school in my hometown. The school was transitioning from an inner-city high school format to this magnet school concept. I made a few new friends and I was introduced to hard rock and heavy metal. It was 1981, I was 11 and AC/DC’s Back in Black, Rush’s Moving Pictures and Judas Priest’s Screaming for Vengeance were three acts/albums I enjoyed thoroughly at the time. In fact, my first concert was Iron Maiden and Judas Priest. In four short years, I went from Debby Boone to Rob Halford. Chew on that one for a minute.
Sometime in 1981 I was at the mall or in a grocery store, I don’t remember exactly where I was. A pop radio station was piped in and I heard We Got the Beat by the Go Go’s for the first time. Oh man. I was sold. I still have the vinyl copy of Beauty and the Beat I got when it was first released and I now have a 30th anniversary digitally re-mastered CD copy. I can’t tell you how many times I listened to that record. It sits on the turntable as I write this.
I picked up and enjoyed their next two albums – Vacation and Talk Show – and then lost track of them. I liked singer Belinda Carlisle’s first solo record but lost track of her efforts too. She lost track of a few things too.
By the time I got to high school in 1983 my fashion sense was severely warped and my musical tastes were about to splinter in several directions. After a taste of hip-hop in 6th grade with the Sugar Hill Gang, rap was about to explode as I entered high school. Run DMC was the game-changer. To this day I listen to many of the acts that came up at that time – Grandmaster Flash, Whodini, Run DMC, LL Cool J, Public Enemy and of course, the Beastie Boys.
I won’t get into what I wore or why. That’s not important right now.
By the time my senior year rolled around, I had made a friend for life. This friend helped me understand that teenage white kids shouldn’t dress for the circus and he also introduced me to what we now would call Alt-rock. The remnants of Joy Division became New Order after lead singer Ian Curtis’ suicide. I started to become a fan of New Order, The Smiths (Morrissey as a solo), Depeche Mode, The Cure, and many other new wave, progressive, alternative bands.
During the summer of 1987, this friend and I saw Gene Loves Jezebel, New Order and Echo and the Bunnymen in concert in western New York. This show changed my musical taste forever. We saw U2 later that year and the New Order show was actually better in my opinion. I listen to New Order every day on my New Order Pandora station. Substance 1987, the two-disc set, remains as one of my favorite albums of all-time.
My friend was able to visit me this summer here in California. As luck would have it, New Order is touring and their San Francisco date happened to fall during the visit. They were better than I could have imagined. Every note struck a chord, every lyric spoke to me, every bit of the show resonated for one reason or another. And to hear New Order and Bernard Sumner’s version of Love Will Tear Us Apart set to a visual tribute to the late Ian Curtis was haunting.
Three years ago, the Go Go’s released the 30-year anniversary edition of Beauty and the Beat. They performed in New York as part of Good Morning America’s summer concert series. I got the thought that I might have the opportunity to see them live.
After missing a chance last year, tickets to a show here in Northern California were snapped up as soon as they went on sale. SiriusXM 80s on 8 is presenting the Replay America concert tour this summer featuring Pete Byrne and Naked Eyes, Martha Davis and Marty Jourard of the Motels, Patty Smyth and Keith Mack of Scandal and of course, the Go Go’s.
Unfortunately, original bassist Kathy Valentine had a falling out with the band, so it’s not the original line up. No offense to Valentine (not that she’s going to read this anyway), I didn’t care and it didn’t matter. Belinda Carlisle, Charlotte Caffey, Gina Schock, Jane Wiedlin and Abby Travis put on a fun, wonderful show. The band also performed one of Carlisle’s solo hits, Mad About You, and Wiedlin’s solo hit with Sparks, Cool Places. Cool Places sounded a bit strange without Sparks, but it did the trick.
I bounced, danced, swayed, reminisced, grooved, sang a little (not loud enough for anyone to hear me of course), longed for another time a little bit at both shows.
I mentioned the resonance to my friend after the New Order show and he said something along the lines of, “that’s what it is to be a fan.”
Two concerts in eight days – my two of my three favorite groups. I can say that now. I probably wouldn’t have said that about the Go Go’s two days ago. I never did see my other favorite group live and I never will. Adam Yauch’s (MCA) death means no more Beastie Boys.
Is any of this “great” music? Many would say no. I know my dad wouldn’t. I know I think it is, that’s all that matters.
It’s the soundtrack of my life.