Years ago I was younger. Yep! This is my obvious statement for the day. And no, it's not even 8PM, yet. As a youth growing up in small town Muskogee, Oklahoma, I had access to relatively limited music on the radio--sometimes it felt even more limited depending on whose radio it was! Mom and Dad listened to their favorites when we went for drives. Dad liked a mix of old school country and 60s and 70s rock. Not bad really. Mom liked show tunes, Barbara Streisand, and the Bee Gees. (Something I really didn't have an appreciation for until later). When I evolved an awareness of music in the late 70s and early 80s, my world began to expand. As a classically-trained cellist, I was doing a lot of thinking about classical music + whatever was on the radio on K107. K107 was a pop/rock station out of Tulsa. I wasn't in the know so to speak until later, so I thought whatever was being played on 106.9 (107) was happenin'. I heard similar music when I went roller skating--so it must've been pretty cool. I enjoyed the sounds of 80s band Duran Duran, Tulsa's own GAP Band, Blondie, and the Sugarhill Gang's Apache (Jam on it!). I had new girlfriend, Olivia Newton-John, telling me how to Get Physical (which only meant I needed to exercise) and Lionel Ritchie telling me Hello (or at least the sightless sculptor from the video.) As much as I have a fondness for these artists even now, I didn't know much of anything. Getting one's music back in the day was limited by not only geography and radio reception, but also, skating rinks and transportation (read: Mom's willingness to take me to K-Mart.
**Reaches for tablet and selects 80s playlist on Google All Access. Song one: Foreigner's I want to know what love is. Yep! K107 all the way! (And I STILL remember the words)
Fast Forward to high school. I'm in the band. I'm in the orchestra. I'm playing at the university down the road in the symphony. Lots of classical and marching band music. I was in the percussion section, so that's kinda' cool, right? Kinda'? Maybe a little. I was pretty nerdy. Still am if I'm honest, but it doesn't bother me anymore...much. My musical influences are less about roller skating and more about school buses. School buses? Away games with the high school band and the whim of he/she who controls the boom box. 1986 and Bon Jovi's rocking big hair while Living on a Prayer. I still get all misty when thinking about yelling the chorus with the other band nerds on the way to a game. It was kind of a big deal. A busload of kids dressed in green and white band uniforms screaming at the top of their lungs to the words of a favorite song--there's nothing quite like it. And then, rewinding and playing it again...and again. And again. Yep. Good times! We didn't mind that Bon Jovi was in the process of being overplayed, not by the radio, but by us. We loved it!
***This 80s mix is really doing for me! (George Michael Faith) I'm I just nostalgic or was this music really great?! Tina Turner? Wow! Good stuff.
So...high school. Good friends I still have and music I still love. Damn those that say the 80s suck. They don't know. They weren't there. And if they were, well...so be it. They're entitled to the own INFORMED opinion.
What does any of this have to do with a music store? I just reread what I've written and realize that I've not gotten to that yet. Background. It's all background.
So, at the end of my senior year, I'd been accepted by the only college I'd applied to and had been awarded a music scholarship. I also got a job. Working at Soundworld. Soundworld is one of Muskogee's oldest music stores. It's outlasted big box stores and other start ups that sought to control the music and electronics market in town. It helped that Ernie, the owner, had a loyal following and did more than just music. When I began my tenure at Soundworld in 1988, he was renting both vhs and beta tapes. Remember Beta? Or VHS for that matter? (It's okay if you're a younger reader. As a teacher of 7th graders, I often make references to past technology and am met with blank stares. A few kids get it, and it's good when they do, but I'm officially on the cusp of being outta touch with my students. Gotta fix that later!) Soundworld was cool! The world of music opened to me in a way it hadn't before. Jim Chastain, our tech, perhaps is more responsible for opening these musical doors than any other during this time. I would walk by his work area and something I'd not heard before would be playing through his Bose 301s. Often, it would be something I felt like I should recognize and when I'd ask, I'd be rewarded with something from my mental list of artists that I figured I should know even though I didn't. Pink Floyd was a regular. Thomas Dolby made multiple appearances through my five year tenure. But then there were the Narada Artists. Not Narada Michael Walden who you should know if you don't! Narada music consisted of a number of new age artists before New Age evolved into something rarely admitted to. Musicians like David Arkenstone and Keiko Matsui (who I get to open for later in life while playing with a band in Dallas). These artists were bring something to the table that was unknown to me. Along with Arkenstone and Matsui, Yanni was getting started. Remember, this was Yanni before Linda Evans and huge stadium-filling performances. This was experimental Yanni with electronic goodness at his fingertips. Also in Jim's rotation was Vangelis. Wow. Yep! That Chariots of Fire guy. Vangelis is so much more that Chariots. Give a listen with an open mind. Jim widened the scope of my listening. Not only did he listen to a wider variety of music than I, he was a high fidelity guy. We used to have movie parties at his house with his front projection (literally, a projector) big screen, Bose stereo, and two pairs of 901s. TWO PAIRS!!!!! This was the 80s. No one I knew had anything like it! I was intrigued and fascinated. Good music and loud music and clear music and did I mention loud music? For a teenager it was heaven. And I was in the know. Thank you, Jim Chastain. You were one of the first adults outside of my own family to make me look at music differently. I am forever in you debt and I pray your heaven is full of music!
Creating, teaching, drinking coffee.