Sunday, March 13, 2011

Iowa City, 1992-1993: The Music

People who know me well know that I love my iTunes playlists. I have been making a more concerted effort to listen to more full albums these days - and let me tell you how I will NOT be blogging that endeavor as I certainly can't blog an album a day - but I still love grouping seemingly unrelated songs into a playlist that results in a cohesive whole, if only in my own head. One of my very favorite playlists is one crafted from the music I listened to during my first year at U of Iowa, creatively titled "U of I 1992-1993." You'll have to click it to make it readable, and I had to put two screen captures together to get all the songs on there, but damn it, I did it!

I think what I love most about this playlist is its variety. I have similar playlists from each year of high school, but when I was compiling those, I only allowed songs that were released during that time to make the cut. When I got to my college playlists, I was a little more liberal because my sophomore year of high school playlist has not one little bit of Stevie Nicks on it. That's a pretty glaring omission and because of that, I decided that allowing songs of any time period on to the list - just as long as I was actively listening to them at that time - was allowable.

I'm not going to comment on every song, although I will pick out a few, but allow me to make a few comments about the list as whole and the time period it represents. As I have mentioned before, that year was my third year of college, but my first at U of Iowa and my first year of pharmacy school. I had uprooted my life and moved it across the state - not that I was leaving terrible much because I was ready for a change after two years at Iowa State. Most of the music that I remember listening to was listened to in relative solitude, not that that was a bad thing. In hindsight, it was pretty important that I have that year in a single room on a floor full of guys, 99% of whom I shared not one single thing in common (although admittedly, my effort left something to be desired.) Eventually, I would make good friends in my pharmacy classes and would move out of the dorms for good at the end of the year. I specifically remember the spring of the year feeling like real living - friends and experiences and, well, life. The songs on this playlist provided a worthy soundtrack to that time period.

And now for some specifics...
  • The songs from The Bodyguard soundtrack were inescapable during that time. While my favorite Bodyguard song is not represented on this list (the screaming-meemie "Queen of the Night") I always think about how that album was selling a million copies per week at Christmas 1992 and remember how much the record industry has changed since then. That, and how Billboard described "I Will Always Love You" as "beautifully undersung." Were we listening to the same song?
  • Rick Astley's "Be With You" is on there because it applied to a girl in my class that I was enamored with. As shy as I was, it was not to be and looking back, it was a good thing.
  • There is one Olivia Newton-John song on there - "Crying, Laughing, Loving, Lying." I bought the Come On Over/Clearly Love Two-on-One CD at Camelot Music. The guy working behind the counter was so excited that I was buying that that he dug out some other ONJ CDs that were not on display. I bought those as well.
  • You'll notice three songs from Deborah Harry's solo CD Def, Dumb and Blonde. This CD was purchased out of the cut-out bin at Camelot. I have said on multiple occasions that this was the best $3.88 I have ever spent on a CD. The last song on the playlist, "End of the Run", is the last song on the album and takes me back to those days instantly. Between this album and Erotica, I am hard-pressed to come up with what album provided more background music for me in the fall of 1992.
  • Speaking of Erotica, the fall of 1992 would have been a different animal altogether had it not been for Madonna's triple threat of Erotica, Sex, and Body of Evidence. It forced my Madonna fandom out of the closet so-to-speak amongst those that I was getting to know. At our 10 year reunion several years back, more than one person told me that whenever they heard a Madonna song, they couldn't help but think of me. Mission accomplished.
  • Simply Streisand (also another Camelot Music purchase) is an indelible part of that fall, as detailed already in this post. Plus that post discusses Babs, pussy AND the Beastie Boys. Top that.
  • The sole Spandau Ballet song on the playlist, "Round and Round", is there because I HAD to have a copy of the song "True" on CD. Today, I would head over to iTunes and download it. In 1993, I bought Spandau Ballet's greatest hits CD. What a surprise to find that I liked (almost) every song on the album. Wouldn't have happened today.
  • I first heard "Walking on Broken Glass" while studying for a test at the Iowa City Public Library, but I'll let this post speak for it. For as much as it was played on the radio, I'm still surprised it wasn't a top 10 hit.
  • My flirtation with Eurodance started here as evidenced by the presence of "Rhythm Is A Dancer" and "Mr. Vain" - the latter being of particular importance as we had a TA whose name was "Mr. Fain." Hilarity ensued.
When I look at this list, I think that had anyone listened to what was coming out of my headphones at the time they would have probably had me committed. Maybe I needed to be. That's what I love about music. I can still see the nearly 40 year-old guy in the stuff the 20 year-old was listening to. The minute that stops, I need to throw in the towel.

Is it the most manly stuff in the world? Hell no. Do I care? Double hell no. Do I sometimes get teased for it. Yeah, sure. But it's all in good fun and if you can't laugh at yourself, you might as well just forget it. I didn't know that then, but I sure do now.

The only song missing from this list is REM's "Nightswimming." And because it's a playlist, well, I can just go add it because it's just that easy.

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