1989…

It’s funny how years stick in your mind in relation to music, life and everything else. 1989 for some reason is that year for me as I discovered listening to that Texas album.

1988 and 1989 saw me living in the south, this is the one and only time in my life I have done this, funnily enough I felt more lost and confused in the south of England than I ever have since moving 6000 miles to the Pacific Northwest. There may be all sorts of reasons for this mostly to do with mine and other peoples biases. Or maybe I just feel safer in the north west of any country I inhabit.

For two years I was away from my hometown. I had to travel by train to get there and back when I had time off or needed a bit of sanity in my life, or insanity at times. Of course this ended for awhile when I met the woman who would become my wife and then the four/five hour journey became less important or frequent. Until she went north and I had to commute in a way all over again.

All this travel required me to buy a walkman cassette player, and then start buying cassettes. This was an alien experience and I have to admit it was not a medium I enjoyed. I went pretty quickly from records to CD’s with little stopping in between apart from the recorded mix tapes and cassettes my friends gave me. This was difficult for me as I was forced into buying albums in a format that was not particularly enjoyable for me to listen to. It also involved folding the inserts the right way to fit into the container, making sure the cassette was rewound so I didn’t have to start in the middle or rewind before listening and the countless batteries.

The outcome of all this was I decided to only buy those albums that were newly released and were essential to me at the time. Of course being particularly snobbish I also tried to keep this to a minimum as it would eat into the record buying and I was already paying a fortune in train fare. fullsizerender-3As soon as I stopped that silly every other weekend commute I stopped buying cassettes which meant for about a year every other Friday on the to Liverpool and on the way back to the south I only listened to these albums. I think I may know every line and note of these records . This also means that if I listen to them I am immediately transported back to 1989. Aural time travel at it’s oddest.

Anyway in the particularly blurry picture to the left are the sounds of 1989 train journeys as I put my head down and navigated the tube and London without making eye contact with another human being as this may have initiated a conversation that I was not ready to have. It seems ridiculous that I survived countless journeys with only these five records to keep me company. These are also the only five records I have owned in three formats.

 

The blames gonna fall on me…

It was 1989, a confusing time to be sure for all concerned. At 23 years old I was aware that I was fast approaching the fatal 24. Neil Young had in Old Man convinced me that this was an age of importance and momentous things would happen if I made it to this landmark. There was to be sure a whole lot more waiting to happen and 24 was quite momentous for all together other reasons than Mr. Young probably had in mind.

1990 however was fast approaching and the pop landscape from the perspective of a guitar loving 20 something was a mystery, yes there was Guns ‘N’ Roses but sorry they were a little too poised and considered in their image. Looking at the charts from 89, it was a particularly difficult time, Jive Bunny was in there with Bananarama and some others that nowadays I could listen to from a slightly ironic perspective.

I am sure there were whole lot of guitar slinging bands of many varieties I have managed to forget. At the time musically I was somewhere trying to integrate a love of REM, Hawkwind and Julian Cope as well as the Talking Heads, King Crimson and Neil Young amongst others. From my current enlightened state of willingness to listen to most anything once if not twice as my friend Greg reminded me today, it all makes sense. For a img_630723 year old convinced that the universe may end when he reached 24 and a need to appear somewhat cool at all times this was a challenge. These biases in the next year were going to be challenged on a daily basis but all that was in the future.

All these thoughts came flooding back to me the other day as I rooted around at the local Salvation Army Store. I was overcome by a sense of longing for 1989 with the discovery of Southside by Texas. Yes they have there roots in Altered Images and Hipsway. They do however have a fine slide player and more importantly for me the memory of Sharleen Spiteri playing guitar in an oversize denim jacket and singing with that well cut floppy mop of black hair. This is an everlasting image of the end of the 80’s for me and was the first time and maybe last time I ever bought a record because the singer reminded me of an old girlfriend. This on reflection may really be the best reason to buy a pop record.

It’s a good pop record, it has three or four memorable songs. The value however is the flood of memories it brings back of riding trains back and forth form Liverpool to Bolney West Sussex.

If you look at the list of albums released in 1989 it was a great year for music with Dylan and Neil Young in their at time grizzled middle aged way. None of them however had the fair Ms. Spiteri who reminded me of a certain young woman from Hull.