e-mail me at billdeg@umich.edu


1992 Nostalgia

Ah, synchronicity. So many things today have taken me to the year 1992. First, a student in my advanced creative writing class distributed a story for workshopping called "It's Hard To Say Goodbye to Yesterday." Immediately I asked if title was an allusion to the Boyz2Men song. Her response: "what's Boyz2Men?" I explained that my senior class song had the same name as her short story. Only one student in the class had heard the song. Me and one other kid in my graduating class, one Joe Westberg from Green Bay Wisconsin, objected to the schmaltzy choice. Frankly I thought it was pretty easy to say goodbye to that particular yesterday. And Joe--a pretty big fan of stuff that nobody else dug (I recall he was a big Moody Blues, Dr. Who, and Faulty Towers fan)--wanted to select a Monty Python song (might have been "Henry Kissinger"). We were voted down.

Then, I come across a story in today's Free Press about The Gaelic League which, in 1992, became the first place in Detroit I fell in love with. Of course the story today highlights the 'League as a great place to go on St. Patrick's Day, but in my first year of college, it was a great place to go anytime. I had a green-and-white striped t-shirt that I always figured would decrease the likelihood of getting carded. The Corktown pub boasted a fine singer named Larry Larson who performed each Friday and Saturday, mostly Irish songs, but also folk tunes from various traditions, oldies, university fight songs, anything that sounded good on an acoustic guitar. When Green Day put out its big record, Larson took to performing a mean version of "Basket Case." He'd see a U of D (not exactly a sports school) crowd enter and launch into U of D's fight song, which none of *us* really knew. I see in the article today that Larson still plays there, though I haven't been there since I graduated from college in '96. The last time I went there may have been St. Patrick's Day, 96, when I drove perhaps eleven people there in my LTD Station Wagon (a 1973 model, just like me). Why haven't I gone back? Probably because it was the perfect place during that moment.

Finally, reports that the Lemonheads have reformed. At the big SXSW festival, they performed the great 1992 "It's A Shame About Ray" album from start to finish. I know it's cool to say that one's favorite record in 92 was one that is now universally annointed as classic ("Loveless" or "Slanted and Enchanted"), but in truth I listened to the Lemonheads more than I listened to My Bloody Valentine or Pavement (though the latter is a favorite as well!). The "Ray" record is as perfect a collection of power pop as anything Big Star ever released. "Bit Part," which is maybe 90 seconds long, uses a movie set as a metaphor for any place where love happens ("I want a bit part in your life, rehearsin' all the time"). "Alison's Starting to Happen" got some play on 89X, the 'across the river' Canadian station that gloriously soundtracked the post-"Smells Like Teen Spirits" moment and was more melodic than anything else on rotation at the time. I still have the worn cassette, recorded from a friend of a friend's copy, I listened to then, and half the record is on the band's compilation CD that Nicole got me at some point, years later. But in the last sixteen years I never bothered buying a CD of "Ray." Why not? It was the perfect record at that moment.

Oh yeah, and a Clinton is running for president.


Mike G said...

Sweet mother of god, Bill: Loveless was a 1991 album. Quick, edit, edit! before the hipsters get you.

I had to think awhile before arriving at a fave disc from '92. Sonic Youth's Dirty, I suppose. I always loved the Lemonheads, and thought it a great injustice when the alt-rock stations stopped playing them and the "adult alternative" stations picked them up. But like you, I never got around to actually buying the CD.

bdegenaro said...

Ah well. Here's my excuse: *I* didn't hear LOVELESS until 1992. And at the end of the day, it's all about me! Dirty's good. I had a taped copy of that, too. I think I taped it off the same person from whom I taped It's a Shame About Ray.