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Friday, June 22, 2018

5 Years Left of Waiting...

            When I was a kid, there was a show on during the evenings, which was entitled Radio 1990. As to whether it was really the future of music, focusing on such 1970s stars as David Bowie and anyone who ever came within 100 feet of Roxy Music, it remains debatable. Yes, Brian Eno and David Bowie were way ahead of their time, but the show wasn’t about taking them forward (though it did try to reinvent them for their career changes). Instead, in hindsight, it seems the future was a post-MTV initiation for all of us who were waiting for the cable company to hit our neighborhoods so we could see what once seemed so cool. 

            If memory serves me right, this happened at the end of 10th grade. In hindsight, the producers of the show determined the future of music was going to be visual for a half an hour each night. Complete with interviews, music, and lots of makeup, Radio 1990 was a jr. high school blast of possibility.

            In a dozen non-pay channel world, before Fox became a network, this meant something.
As those of us who are adults now look at MTV and realize that the future of music, if it was visual, died with constant overplay (unlike radio stations that run on that same format should) and The Real World, a show that led to Undressed (a PG13 rated quasi porn for high school kids to use as a learning tool for what college should be like). This led to lack of reality TV like The Hills. That show led to everything my wife currently watches on E and Bravo networks.

In between, we did have a lot of great tunes. Metal, grunge, alternative, hip hop, and a pop sound that may as well be hip hop without the gangsta flair flourished and created a lot of memorable artists for token genres. Then again, it also recycled boy and girl pop into something lousy and meaningless, which is where a lot of pop music (though not all) stands today.

But I digress. Way back when, there was Kathryn Kinley on Radio 1990, and she was playing David Bowie’s “Changes” for me. I had never heard anything like that, and to some subtle, but large degree the song changed me from that moment on. At the time, I didn’t buy Hunky Dory (the album it was on), but I did buy Let’s Dance, which features “Blue Jean” (I also had that on colored vinyl), “Modern Love,” and “China Girl.” Bowie influenced my pre Motley Crue and Iron Maiden days like nobody other than pre-Christy Brinkley Billy Joel (after that… ugh).

Eventually, I would find my way back to Bowie via the Smiths and Bauhaus, picking up his greatest hits in 1989. Within another couple months, I found my way to Hunky Dory and Ziggy Stardust. In these earth-shattering works that are still ahead of their time, I found “Life on Mars,” “Space Oddity,” and “Ziggy Stardust,” and all was good.
Then, once again, I lost track of Bowie until I cracked open Ziggy in 1993, so as to give it another shot on the tape deck. It was then that I rediscovered or should I say “discovered” the gem that is “5 Years.”

Ever since that time, if I were to list my most played songs, I would probably have to say it would be solidly implanted on the list with:

1)      Box of Rain (Grateful Dead)
2)      America (Simon and Garfunkel)
3)      Piano Man (Billy Joel)
4)      I am the Ocean (Neil Young and Pearl Jam)
5)      The Act We Act (Sugar)
6)      Waiting Room (Fugazi)
7)      Wasted Years (Iron Maiden)
8)      Time (acoustic version) (Minutemen)
9)      Tiny Ugly World (Alice Donut)

This is not to say that those 10 songs are my favorite 10 songs, but as 10 songs that I discovered prior to 1995 so that I could play the tar out of them, this must mean they’re still around, and I still listen to them regularly. If I compare that to my favorite CDs, which would be works like Aeroplane over the Sea (Neutral Milk Hotel) and The Fragile Army (or either of the first 2 discs by Polyphonic Spree), they came along a decade later. Discs that I play incessantly now, the Front Bottoms’ self-titled work or Modern Baseball’s Holy Ghost are still babies. Even my discovery of the Rolling Stones’ Exile on Main Street is too recent. It would take ages for “Sweet Virginia” and “Shine a Light” to make that list, even if I played them daily.
Additionally, other great classic rock like the live versions of “Freebird” and “Purple Rain,” and songs like “Tiny Dancer,” “Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald,” “Baba O’ Reilly,” “Dream on,” “Sweet Jane,” “No Woman, No Cry,” “Under Pressure,” “Stairway to Heaven,” “Idiot Wind,” “Gimme Some Truth,” “Brain Damage / Eclipse,” “Cherry Cherry,” “Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap,” and “Gimme Some Lovin’” would take daily plays and stopping play of the top 10 to make things even.
So that says something about how a song from age 22 is still with me to almost 47.
While “5 Years” is a song about the end of the world, it’s more expressive of people who come into our lives. Their shape and size is diverse. We may recognize a few of them, at the get go, as being people who will affect us, but some of them just kind of sneak their way into our lives in some beautifully imperfect kind of way. If not for them, who are we?
And there are people who know they’re here, close to our hearts and lives. Where would we be without them? The somebodies, nobodies, anybodies, and everybodies that define us. But what of those who stayed such a short time, but still affected us over the course of our life? Do they know they’re in the song, too?
So as the song rises, builds, and falls, leading into “Soul Love,” “Moonage Daydream,” and “Starman,” there is a sense of something as powerfully removed from earth as Bowie’s spaceman is. With the unholy combination of Iggy Pop and Lou Reed, Bowie created something intensely meaningful over the 11 songs on the work, but nowhere is it as strong as in this song.
I’ve heard covers of this song by Polyphonic Spree, Elf Power, and Phish. There are a lot of other versions, of which I’d be most curious to hear Angel Olsen and the Old 97s’ versions.
Nevertheless, this isn’t about those people. Instead, it’s about the thought of the Lisa Rinna-free world I’ve been living in since Thursday night when my wife went on vacation to Georgia. As she’s between jobs, she took a week before starting her new job to go hang out with her sisters, nieces, and brother-in-law in an area that boasts giant waterfalls and the start of the Appalachian Trail. I couldn’t go since I just started work.

In that time, I’ve accomplished a fair bit of things since being left to my own devices, and I will accomplish more before Heather gets home (most likely tonight since she left early). The yellow and black list compels me. However, it’s lonely here without her. We may only see each other a little some days, but that’s better than not seeing one another or making calls or even video chatting. Yes, in the post-work times of downstairs typing, figuring out life, and many other things, it’s nice to have that one constant great person to answer back when I’m rambling about nothing.
Yeah, it’s the little things.

In the end, we find ourselves connected to certain people in ways that we feel lost without them. For that, I’d be willing to put up with the snotty, self-righteous, condescending, and hateful Lisa Rinna, the Pioneer Woman, the Southern Charm crew, or the Kardashians (though not without my usual remarks of where do they find these people) if it meant getting to spend time with my wife.
Nevertheless, I’d prefer she watch something like Kimmy Schmidt, The Dead Files or Guy Fieri instead of that stuff if I’m working or “Kindle-ing” while she’s watching.

Still, for all I loathe in every figment of these 2 networks, it seems that because of my wife, the Bravo and E casts area finding their way into my life, like it or not. I know some of their names. I know the names of their dogs, for that matter! I know who is fornicating with who and who should be kicked off the show for inappropriate behavior with hanger-ons. I may reflect on what horrible people these reality TV stars are, but still they’re there, rattling around in my head. Like an endless Vanderpump Rules reunion show, I feel trapped in limbo, waiting in the sounds of Destination America, Parks and Recreation, and MLBTV, so that I can get to Saturday night so I no longer have to talk to myself. Yes, give me my wife back, even if it means watching Andy Cohen instigate The Real Housewives of Atlanta to go for the neck when they engage in a brawl to the death, especially if Mama Joyce goes in the steel cage, too.
I wonder if David Bowie imagined these people on Ziggy’s planet, in the market square, or somewhere with the means and capability to destroy the rational world.

Come to think of it, Bethenny Frankl looks like some kind of evil praying mantis hell bent and determined to devour any human who dare mess with her bottom line. I know I'm too smart to ever cross her path.

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