Jay: "So, I'd like to try an experiment with the 3FBC group. Nothing invasive, but for fun.
"Here are the parameters:
"(1) put together a list of songs from your past that you find remarkably evocative of a time and place;
"(2) keep the list to an average of 1 song per year;
"3) these don't have to be your favorite songs, just songs that are overwhelmingly evocative - when you hear them, you immediately go to a specific time and place;
"(4) if it helps, think in terms of decades;
"(5) but recognize that you may find more songs in a given decade than in another - as long as it averages out to 1 per year, that's ok
"(6) you may also find several songs that happen to fall in the same year - again, as long as the overall list averages to 1 song per year, no problem.
"(7) please keep track of the year that the given song came out; this will be interesting to consider as we review the lists."
I’m sure everyone thinks the era in which they grew up had the best music, but they’re wrong: 1970’s/ 1980’s album rock was objectively the best.
1976 is where I’ll start. I was 15 years old. Sure, we listened to the Beatles and Led Zeppelin, but Journey, Boston and Foreigner were the new music, “our” music. Jackson Browne Running on Empty (1977) was the folksy alternative. Springsteen’s Born To Run (1975) was the anthem of working class white kids on the Southside.
1977: Supertramp’s Quietest Moments, Kansas’ Point of Know Return, Clapton’s Slowhand, Cheap Trick’s debut album, Foghat LIVE and Fleetwood Mac Rumors. My crowd didn’t really listen to punk or country or shitkicker rock like the Clash, the Cure or the Ramones. The Eagles’ Hotel California was a watershed event.
1978: Dire Straits, Blondie Parallel Lines, Queen were great, but Some Girls from the Rolling Stones had the vinyl WORN OUT. Somewhere in this era the Beatles Sgt Pepper was re-released for some reason and we couldn’t get enough of it. Southside kids all revered Styx and REO Speedwagon like gods.
1979: Kevin Cronin from REO graduated with my English teacher Brother Casey in 1969 from my high school. One day in April 1979, a month before my graduation, I was walking to Bro Casey’s class and turned the corner in my usual stupor and bumped into this skinny long-hair wearing jeans (WAY outside the dress code). I looked and couldn’t believe it. Kevin--fucking--Cronin!! Right in front of me. He was coming in to give his buddy Bro Casey some tickets to this weekend’s concert at the Amphitheatre. Casey could do no wrong after that. Other music we listened to were Tom Petty Damn the Torpedoes, Supertramp’s Breakfast In America, Van Halen and the Cars. Disco was verboten and that German techno-noise was frowned upon.
1980: I was at the Big U of Chicago and my musical experience took a turn. My new crew was more eclectic and decidedly less “Southside.” Ska was a big deal and we listened to The Specials til our ears burned. Elvis Costello got a lot of play and when alone I seemed to crank AC/DC more than was healthy. Somewhere during this time Pat Benatar became a minor obsession, to the point that I found a girl who was her doppleganger and we dated for a while. (This isn’t as odd as it seems since 62% of all girls in 1980 wanted to be Pat Benatar, I just found the best impersonator-- she was indistinguishable in every way but talent.)
1981-85: I transferred to Univ of Illinois and the cornfields brought new roommates and bigger, crazier parties, big ten football tailgates with Lynyrd Skynyrd blaring, more Styx, more REO, more Tom Petty, more beer, more weed. Some of the downstate kids played outlaw country and my Wisconsin cousins turned me on to Jerry Jeff Walker, Willie Nelson, Merle Haggard, Garth Brooks, and David Allen Coe (“You never even call me by my name”). I met Kelly in 1983 and she was never a big country fan, so we listened to Lionel Ritchie, Springsteen Born in the USA, Madonna’s debut album Like A Virgin, The Police, Prince When Doves Cry, U2 and Bon Jovi.
1985-1994: Medical school was devoid of excess music but the OR’s in West Michigan were filled with country music: Brooks & Dunn, Dwight Yoakam, The Dixie Chicks, George Strait, Clint Black, Alan Jackson, Suzy Bogguss… Still love that music: fond memories of hysterectomies and ectopic pregnancies. To this day I can’t place a laparoscope without a steel guitar playing.
The rest of the 1990’s: We moved to Kalamazoo and went to concerts by Lyle Lovett, Junior Brown, BB King, more blues, and some country. Jack Johnson became a favorite.
Now I listen mostly to classic rock and country. Stevie Ray Vaughn, Beatles, Clapton, REO, Journey, Foreigner, ZZ Top, CCR, CSNY, AC/DC. COUNTRY: Alan Jackson, Kenny Chesney, George Strait. I have a new appreciation for George Harrison. Some of the newer country artists that find their way to my phone are Florida-Georgia Line, Jason Aldean and Luke Bryan.