Tuesday, July 17, 2012

5 underrated songs from my generation.. and I miss MTV

It’s interesting to refer to a particular time as my generation.  It is interesting because no one has an exact frame of exactly when that is except for me. Obviously, everyone that is about my age, give or take a couple of years, considers the same period of time our generation, give or take a couple of years.  But what exactly are we talking about when we talk about our generation.  I like to think that it is the period of time when we really became cognizant of our surroundings.  But, at the same time, I think that is different when you are talking about different for different people and referring to different things. For example, when I think of football, I would consider the 1990 Raiders-Bills AFC championship game that the Bills won and subsequently went on to lose the Super Bowl as the beginning of my generation.  I pick this particular game because I can vividly remember this game and everything thereafter, but everything before this game is pretty foggy. I was 9 years and 3 months old when this game took place. Baseball, I took to a bit earlier. I pretty vividly remember the 1989 season that culminated in a devastating earthquake hitting the San Francisco bay just prior to a scheduled World Series game between San Francisco and Oakland. 

Trying to classify my generation in terms of music is a bit tougher, though.  I mean, I vividly remember rocking out to MC Hammer and Boyz II Men as a kid, but everyone did that.  I remember being in the car or on a boat listening to The Boss when I was like 6 years old.  I don’t think that during those times I really had a good grasp on what I liked and what I didn’t like. I just sort of went with the flow and jammed out to whatever everyone else around me liked.  It wasn’t until the Pearl Jam album “Ten” came out that I can really remember liking something because I liked it and not just because everyone else did. That album was released in August of 1991, but Jeremy wasn’t released as a single (and video) until the following summer, 1992.  Don’t get me wrong here, though.  I’m not suggesting that everyone in the world didn’t like Jeremy, Black, and Alive, they did.  Everyone did.  As a matter of fact, that is probably the sole reason why had to bug my mom go out and get this hard rock record by some band called “Pearl Jam.” But, what happened with this record was something that I don’t really remember happening before. I began to explore the record. I found songs on this record that I actually liked because I listened to them.  Songs like Release and Oceans and of course Porch, which opens with the phase “What the fuck is this world coming to”, a phrase (and a particular word) that is sure to catch the attention of any eleven-year old kid. So, I guess when I refer to my generation, in terms of music, it would be everything from the summer of 1992 and on.

Speaking of kids being drawn to things that are a little too grown up for them, this song was on the soundtrack to the 1995 movie Kids, A movie about teen-age sex, drugs and violence which we all saw for the simple reason that it came attached to a notorious NC-17 rating. At a time in life when one of the most fun things to do was sleep over at a buddies house, drink mountain dew until your eyes cross, and watch MTV until the wee morning hours, this song got the very occasional airplay. I think that was one of the main reasons that I liked this song so much when it came out.  It was a time that was very different from now.  This song would play on MTV or I’d hear it on REV105 and it would leave me clamoring for more. Today if that happens, you just hop on the computer and tapitty-tap, clickity-click you can listen to it until you are so sick of it you never want to hear it again.  But, in 1995 you only had a couple of options.  You could head to the record store and buy the CD with what is left of your extremely limited funds or you could just wait until it comes on MTV again.  Well, I never believed the band Folk Implosion had much more to offer than this song, so they just simply weren’t worth spending my last $10 on their CD. So, I heard this song infrequently until, soon enough, MTV and the radio stopped spinning it and it slipped from my mind completely.
Strangely enough, this song made a triumphant return, and one that put it in my music collection for good. I am watching AMC one night and they have this bit going called “long live cool”.  It was basically just a bunch of Steve McQueen and Robert Redford movies playing for a weekend. Reason enough for me to tune in, I suppose.  So I’m watching and at each commercial break there is a promo that shows clips of the movies and Steve McQueen standing by cars and looking awesome showing you what movies are coming up.  Guess what song is used as the promo music?

This song may have been a bit more popular than the last at the time it was making a brief stint on MTV, but, nonetheless, faded into oblivion every bit as quickly and completely. Sucked Out, interestingly, never really faded away for me.  I really have no idea why, because its not that great or anything, but I just always kept it in the back of my mind that I would like to pick up this album some time.  I never got around to it, but it does now have the distinction of being one of the first songs I ever spent like a half hour downloading once I learned about napster.

yeah, yeah, yeah..   no need to judge me.  While this song may not be a cool alternative rock song and would probably be considered something more along the lines of adult contemporary, you gotta admit that it is a pretty good adult contemporary song.  The song itself is really quite catchy and Harriet Wheeler has a pretty awesome voice.  Also, I totally had a big crush on her when I was like 13 years old.  So, there’s that.


Coming off of sixteen stone, an album that pretty much everyone I know either owned or, at least, knew very well, it was really interesting to see how they would follow it up.  In all honesty, I never really got into sixteen stone all that much.  Glycerin and comedown were cool, machinehead rocked and there was other decent stuff, but I never owned the record and just never really felt that burning need for it.  But, I can vividly remember after that album everyone thinking Bush was the next big thing and the release of razorblade suitcase was hotly anticipated.  This song was the first single off that album and was followed up by greedy fly and the insanely disturbing video attached to it.  After these two awesome songs came out, I liked Bush way more than I ever had before and they had some really awesome momentum.  Frustratingly, there was no other single off the album and the rest of the album really wasn’t all that good.  As a matter of fact, I can’t name another song off the album and I own it.  Anyways, it didn’t really matter.  Around the same time some dorky kid from Chicago let us all know that the world is a vampire and completely owned this genre for the next year.  Also, Oasis.

Speaking of Oasis, have you ever noticed that in the video for “Don’t Look Back In Anger” Noel Gallagher plays lead guitar AND sings while Liam just stands around looking like a big douche? I had never noticed that until just this moment.


Meandering a little bit further down this old memory road, I just came a cross another one hit wonder.  This time from that period in time when MTV was really starting to be taken over by shows, but for a brief period VH1 carried the video playing torch for a while. I never really did get this song, but it never really mattered.  It’s still a jam. This song was also one of those interesting songs that finds its way onto more than a couple different radio stations.  -- I remember this summer quite well.  It was the summer that I was 15 years old and I had just gotten my first ever job at the local Taco Johns.  Probably the most fun job I’ve had to this day. I worked there with a couple of buddies and outside of Taco Tuesday (when I’d call in sick) and a couple busy rushes we basically had zero customers. All we did was create our own tacos, eat potato ole’s and jam the radio. Sadly, that Taco J’s no longer exists.  I assume it was because they had, like I had mentioned, zero customers.  Funny, I blew that summer’s savings buying a sweet new bicycle.  The following summer I got my first car and that bike I spent a summer working at Taco John’s for laid dormant and useless.  Welcome to the work world.

anyways...  whether you remember any of those or not, I hope at least one of them is a jam for you. 

Until next time..   Peace Out!


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