Chilly September Sunday after a pretty chaotic week. Listening, as always, to “Legends of Alternative” — a radio program from San Diego. The DJ, Steve West, was the DJ behind all the music I listened to in the 80s and 90s. He’s a Brit and his accent was far more pronounced 30 years ago. He plays “oldies” — and oldies on this program are “Alternative” — new wave and punk — from times past. This is actually something I look forward to every week, which is somewhat absurd, since most of the music I listen to is this music, but he plays songs I have forgotten. It’s a real time machine.
My husband at the time listened to jazz, funk and jazz fusion and thought he was incredibly cool. He was so far from cool he was the Equator.
I remember the day I discovered this radio station — 91 X. I’d lived in San Diego less than a year, and I was driving down the hill to Convair to pick up the ex from work. I was pushing buttons (yep, the radio had buttons) in our too-easily over-heated SAAB, and hit on the radio station. I heard The Pretenders. Elvis Costello. The Clash. Depeche Mode. OK, their first hit was stupid (People are People) but later?
“I can’t believe you like that,” he’d said, stumped. “I thought you had some taste in music. That isn’t even real music! It’s synthesizers!”
He didn’t understand that you cannot reason away personal taste. What did I care that the bands I liked, some of them, used synthesizers? What if I liked that? When I went to a Depeche Mode concert in the 90s, I was amused when the opening riffs of “Just Can’t Get Enough” came up, people stood and cheered, and there was NOTHING on the stage but five autonomous synthesizers. But they were skillful synthesizers…
So here I am, 30+ years later, in a different state (in every respect), getting up early on Sunday morning to have this short ride on pop music’s time machine. Kinda’ silly, but there it is.