Helping You Get the Most Out of Your Misery






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Saturday, June 10, 2006


Wo die liede unserer jugend sind?

So one way I know that I'm getting really old is that I have a fondness for songs that are old enough to get served in a bar. Loving old songs isn't a sign of decrepitude in and of itself. I mean, you can have an appreciation for Ella Fitzgerald or Deep Purple even if you're a college student in 2006. What makes you old is when you loved these songs when they first came out and have distinct memories tied to them.

It really doesn't seem that long ago that "oldies" stations played Jan & Dean or The Four Seasons or The Supremes. But now songs from my youth are oldies. That sucks.

What sucks even more is when I find myself wanting to listen to them. That has just always seemed like some kind of nostalgic wallowing to me and I never thought I'd be guilty of it. I mean, a lot of the music of my youth really, in retrospect, sucks. So it's actually the memory of being young and listening to these songs that I like, not necessarily the tunes. (Or complete and utter lack thereof.)

And what's worse is that I lived in the sticks as a kid. I wasn't a city kid who had access to all sorts of cool subgenres or hip alternative scenes. No, I had to listen to whatever pop crap HOTFM 101 or CD106 (the Wolf!) was pumping out. And it really was kinda crap. And I really kinda still love a lot of it.

Because I think most of us listen to what's popular in our formative years, before we start to develop whatever will eventually pass for our musical taste. I left pop for classic rock in high school, then switched to alternative in college, then discovered jazz in my early twenties. And of course, each time I discovered a new form of music, there was a certain amount of disdain for what I'd been listening to. Which is why, once my classic rock phase ended, it was almost a decade before I could truly face my former obsession with Aerosmith.

But I'm at a place where I can deal with--yes, even embrace--all of the music I've listened to over the course of my life. (Maybe not all. I have no real clue why I ever bought a Faster Pussycat tape.)

What this has meant is that I can sing along with classic rock tunes in the shower and not care that I really ought to be listening to Belle & Sebastian instead. I can pogo enthusiastically at a They Might Be Giants concert and feel only slightly embarrassed that so many of the other people there are half my age. The downside to all of this is that we live in an age where, if I get a sudden yen to listen to Mr. Mister's "Kyrie", I can actually go to iTunes and buy the goddamn thing.

Which is what I did on Monday. I got the tune stuck in my head and I thought, "Y'know, I should put that on my iPod." And, y'know, it's really not as good as I'd remembered. The chorus still gets me, but the rest of the song is what you might call drivel. It's one of those songs that makes me remember why I'm glad I don't just have Top 40 radio to listen to anymore. And I paid for it.

I also paid for the version of Falco's "Rock Me, Amadeus" that's entirely in German without the cool "In 1756 in Salzburg, Austria, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was born" guy talking. I don't want that version. I want the one I remember. I don't want the lame-ass remake of "99 Luftballons" I paid for, either. Why the hell did Nena need to record an alt-rock version? Well, I guess the answer would be, "So she doesn't have to resort to giving handjobs in the back alleys of Leipzig to pay her rent."

I did pick up a couple of songs that scratch the cheese-rock itch I was feeling. I got Human League's "Don't You Want Me", which was exactly as I'd remembered, and The Dream Academy's "Life in a Northern Town". I couldn't, however, find "Safety Dance" for download anyplace. Nor could I find my all-time favorite pop song in existence, "Tarzan Boy".

My God, I love Tarzan Boy. It's just so full of cheesey goodness. It's like a fondue. And I cain't finds it. iTunes has a fucking Karaoke version and they've got some dipshit doing a cover, but they do not have the beautiful original by Baltimora. I found an import of Baltimora's Greatest Hits (which really should be singular), but I don't want to pay twenty-five bucks for an album from which I'll simply rip one song and then promptly discard. And so I am, for now, Tarzan Boy-less.

But I've got all the Mr. Mister I'll ever fucking need.

What, no 'Tainted Love'?
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