And while I wax nostalgic…..in the past few days I’ve been bumping into a song from the 1980’s.
I was a huge fan of “New Wave” music. In college, in the mid-late 70’s, I liked punk. The Ramones, The Clash, The Sex Pistols; these were some of the influences that would become the soundtrack of my college life. There were many other influences as well. Unfortunately, there was not a lot of punk culture on offer in East Lansing Michigan at the time. The 80’s brought the New Wave which was much more accessible and, therefore, much more available in small-town Midwest. What the music may have lacked in substance it made up for in energy. It was as if Disco had died, finally, and some really cool bands showed up to play at the wake.
By the early 1980’s I was out of college, had a real job and had the first car I’d ever owned that I was confident could travel reasonable distances without breaking down. On weekends I would travel from Michigan back to Wisconsin to see family and friends. That was the official story anyway. The truth was the trip was all about spending Friday night in Chicago.
A few years later I would begin to explore the gay nightlife of Chicago but that was still the road not-yet taken. I was still pursuing, some might suggest a little desperately, what Harper’s Other Dad refers to as “Les Femmes”. (By that he means ‘women’. He’s not making disparaging remarks about any former boyfriends.) A friend of a friend shared an apartment off Belmont with her sister and their gay brother. Leaving right after work would get me to Chicago in time to grab a late dinner and then head to a club called Neo.
Which brings me to the Flying Lizards. The first time I heard this song was on the car radio. It was about 3:00 AM Saturday morning and I was driving 70 mph on the Dan Ryan Expressway (I-94) leaving Chicago on my way to Wisconsin. I only heard the end of the song. The next time I heard it, however, was a couple of weekends later in Neo and hearing it crystallizes that moment in memory. There are other songs that evoke earlier moments just as clearly. There would be songs to come that conjure other moments on those roads not-yet taken. But hearing this song, I am transported. I am 26 years old at the end of an urban alley walking into a club called Neo and I have found it; nightlife without polyester.