Wednesday, September 03, 2008

music, Michelle and mixed tapes

All of you know I'm a music fan. All music. Period. Jonny Lang to Johnny Rotten to Johnny Mathis. I'm a fan. C'mon ~ Mom is an opera singer; Dad is a jazz pianist who plays by ear. No, none of that raw talent was passed to me, but I digress.

You should also know I am all about the 80s music genre - hair bands, alternative/new wave, freestyle dance, old skool, all of it. As it's the music of my youth, obviously there's a special place in my ears for 80s; particularly the alternative/new wave/KROQ music. I attribute this love to two people ~ Richard Blade and Michelle L from RHS.

Michelle was a year or two ahead of me; I think we met when I was a sophomore - many details escape me. She was a one of a handful of girls I admired in high school, mainly because she didn't follow trends, she set her own. Before Duran Duran really made the 'scene' she had blonde bangs a la John Taylor. WOW! That was huge to me. I couldn't carry that shit off; but she could and did. I remember Michelle wearing the 'John Taylor hat' one day (you know what I'm talkin' 'bout - the hat from the videos!) and I couldn't contain myself. The only hats I saw at school were baseball caps on boys! Again, this was huge to me.

Michelle and I had a class together (again, details escape me); I don't recall much work getting done. I do recall listening to her tales - seeing Duran Duran at a gallery opening in Hollywood (gasp - she went to Hollywood?!), concerts, clubs, music and bands (she gave me the lyrics to Haircut 100's 'Favourite Shirt' which was one of my faves of the day). She talked about videos on MTV, all of this music coming out of England and I was so intrigued!

One day, (I think) I gave Michelle a blank cassette or two, requesting some of this music I'd only heard her talk about. What I got were two of the most awesome mixed tapes ever. Ever. Seriously. EVER. These tapes had music that still resonates in my head, my heart and my ears thanks to iTunes: Japan & David Sylvian "Gentlemen Take Polaroids" was magical and haunting; the original version (and my favorite version) of "Pretty in Pink" and "Run Run Run" by the Psychedelic Furs; "Enjoy Yourself" by the Specials; Duran Duran, of course; "Fantastic Day" by HC100; and a song called "Jackpot" by this band called the Beat. I had never heard anything like it! I wanted to hear more. I wanted to know more about this band, the Beat. Of course, nothing could be found in the local Wherehouse or Licorice Pizza (how's THAT for a flashback?!). It wasn't until later that I discovered the Import sections and vinyl heaven at Mad Platter or that awesome record store that used to be in the Hardman Center in Riverside (again, details escape me).

A couple of years ago, I sent Michelle a message on And, recently, we've reconnected (via a cryptic/creepy email from me - "Michelle L from RHS?" Yep, that's all I wrote).

So, Michelle ~ thank you! Those 2 cassettes brought joy to my ears and that one song by that one band still brings me joy to this day. This Friday will be my 14th English Beat show this year.


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