Friday, January 19, 2007

Irene Cara Was Sort of Goth

When I was a kid, I had a small record collection. I also had a kiddie record player that would close up like a little red and white suitcase, with a white plastic handle on it. The first record I remember owning was a re-telling of the Wizard of Oz. It came with a book that you could read along in sync with the story. The songs weren't nearly as good as in the movie, but I went along with it anyway. All of the voices on it sounded tinny and creepy, and I wouldn't listen to it unless it was light outside. The second record I remember owning was the soundtrack to the Sound of Music. That record was the shit because I could run around and act out all the scenes. In my version, Rolf wasn't a Nazi and Liesel didn't say "whhheeeee" after he kisses her in the gazebo because I liked to think that playing it cool was the way to be sixteen going on seventeen. I memorized every song on that record, except for Climb Ev'ry Mountain, which is the biggest grandmaw song I have ever heard in my life to this day.

My sister collected records and so I got to listen to everything there was to listen to back in the day, from Billie Holliday to Mozart to the Beatles. But those records weren't MINE, so whenever I actually got to have a record for my very own, it was momentous. One day, my sister came home with a 45 that someone had given her that she didn't want. I distinctly remember her scoffing at it and berating the poor soul who had deigned to give it to her. "Can I have it?" I drooled. And thusly I came to own my first rock record. And, whenever I got the chance, I put that sucker on my little red record player and rocked out with my baby bootay. "If you want my body, and you think I'm say-exy, come on sugar let me knooow..." Yes, ladies and gentlemen, Rod Stewart was my very first rock record. Thanks, Big Sis. You couldn't have given me Hendrix or Joplin? I would've even taken Sonny and Cher or something. But Rod Stewart? This probably explains a lot about my deep love of cheezy goodness that's lasted me throughout the ages.

As the times changed, records stayed in vogue, but tapes were now added into the scene. I spent many a night listening to Casey Kasem or Rick Dees or Shadoe Stevens or John Garabedian with a tiny tape recorder. I would hold it up to the radio and press record to get the songs I most wanted, and those mixed tapes were like GOLD to me then. I also bought tapes at the record store, and the first one that I bought for myself was the soundtrack to "Fame," which was one of my favorite tv shows at the time. I played the shit out of that tape, and sang my little heart out to "I Sing the Body Electric" although I had no idea what the hell I was saying. I even took that tape with me on a trip back to the South Pacific, and it was there, at
my cousin's house, that I played it until it literally wore out. I remember my brother saying "well, I guess it didn't live
forever after all, ha ha" and me being so so MAD at him for making fun of my tape that was gone, never to be played again. And even though that happened years ago, I swear to you I could sing you every song on that soundtrack, backwards and forwards. Those songs were so on my level, as an elementary school kid, it was truly heartbreaking to lose that tape. It had a song on there entirely about hot lunch in the cafeteria, people. Listen to this poetry that Irene Cara was belting out: "Macaroni and baloney, tuna fish, our favorite dish. Hot lunch, hey. If it's yellow, then it's jello. If it's blue, it could be stew, ooh, ooh." Oh man. How can you argue with something as simple as "hot lunch, hey"? You can't. And that's why, when that tape wore out, I cried. Really, I did.

So imagine my surprise today at the American Libraries Association conference, when I saw a demonstration of an online karaoke site. The demo was using the theme song from Fame! Be still my beating heart. I watched the words go up on the screen as some brave volunteers sang along to these words from my childhood.

"Fame, I'm gonna live forever. I'm gonna learn how to fly. I feel it coming together. People will see me and die."

Wait, what the-. People will see me and what? They'll DIE? How come I don't remember it saying that? I remember it saying "people will see me and cry." Still a little creepy and definitely very egotistical, but I can live with that lyric. But DIE? Really? This song has death in it? Did you all know this?

See what I learn at these conferences? Life changing.

Kiss the rings, I'm out.
Librarian Girl


Anonymous said...

my first 45 was blondie's 'the tide is high'. first cassette was either prince's 'purple rain' or cyndi lauper's 'she's so unusual'. but i do remember rockin' out to rod stewart, although there is something unsettling about little girls belting out the lyrics, isn't there? "if you want my body and you think i'm sexy..." of course, in all our innocence, we had no idea.

french panic said...

First LP: ABBA's Super Trouper; age 7. Last one: The Pixies Surfer Rosa, age 16.

First cassette: Til Tuesday. I coveted Aimee Mann's big white hair from the age of 10, but never understood the braided tail thing. All I saw was lost long hair.

First 45: Wang Chung (everybody wang chung tonight). I never liked it. I still don't know why I bought it. Age 11.

First & last 12" 45 at the age of 12. I won it in a spotlight dance at one of those weird nightclubs for teenagers that were big from 1987-1989. Terence Trent D'Arby's Wishing Well.

First CD: Oomalama by Eugenius, age 19. I had an obsession with Nirvana at the time and listened to and read everything Kurt Cobain ever mentioned in every interview. Leadbelly, Eugenius, Perfume by Patrick Suskind. Though I never liked the Melvins.

MAP said...

I had an 8 track player until I was 13. Which is probably why, even though I knew Librarian Girl at the time, we didn't really become friends for a few more years. And what did I play on my beloved 8 track?? Abba Gold. The 1812 Overture. REO Speedwagon.

I finally upgraded to a record player at age 13. And what did I buy for my first record? Jack Wagner - All I Need.

First tape - Born in the USA. Ok, a little better.

First CD - The Pretty Woman Soundtrack. Yikes.

Anonymous said...

Librarian Girl, I remember being in your basement (which in my memory is more like a maze with a grotto where everyone was making out at your 8th grade party)listening to a who record which I think was your brothers. I think of you every time I hear the Who.

MAP, I TOTALLY remember that ABBA 8-track. And every time I rummage through my old tapes and see my Aha tape, I think of you being in love with Morten.

Anonymous said...

I think I had the same record player carrying case! This was a great post, it brought back great memories of listening to Scooby Doo story records. And my Chipmunks Christmas records. :)

Anonymous said...

Ahh I remember them! My first real 45 was...Who's That Girl by Madonna. My first tape...Debbie Gibson's Out of the Blue. Is it any surprise that I turned out to be gay? I think not.

WDL said...

My first Record was the Pointer Sisters Neutron Dance. I loved it,and took it to school to play for show and tell. HOT.

This post reminds me of one of my new favorite singers, Corinne Bailey Rae - and her song "Put Your Records On" - the rest of the CD is great too.

Which reminds me, so is the Broadway sountrack to "Grey Gardens" - Revolutionary Costume is my new mantra.


Darlene said...

'people will see me & die'??? It really says that??? I thought it was 'cry' as well.

My first record was '101 Dalmations' read along story, I think...I used to listen to it on my Mickey Mouse record player - the one where his arm was the needle & it swung over onto the record...But the 1st rock record I ever bought was "Hotel California" by the Eagles. My daughter is an avid collector of records & she has a wicked awesome collection.

Sphincter said...

My first cassette bought with my own money? Thriller by Michael Jackson.

Shut up. I was just a kid.

Anonymous said...

I too was an ABBA Gold first-time-owner. It was our only tape on the long family-moving drive from Houston to Seattle and, for some strange reason, it disappeared after we arrived at our new home.

Jen said...

The first tape I ever wore out: Peabo Bryson. Not the whole album, just "If Ever I'm In Your Arms Again".

I wore it out twice. My parents bought a replacement tape and I killed that one, too.

Anonymous said...

I thought I was the only person who learned all the songs on The Sound of Music Soundtrack at a tender age. I used to use our couch to act out Liesel's "dance" around the gazebo. It was harder without a partner to hold your hand.

Don't even get me started on Fame.

Thanks for bringing back some awesome cheesy musical memories.