April 7th, 2008

summer reading

I Blame Doug for This Post

Way far back in time, when I was in grade school, I took classes at my local high school. I took two classes: computer science and algebra. (No snickers on the nerdiness of that, please.) The computer science class was taught by your prototypical aging hippy: Birkenstock-clad feet, long hair, yogurt-and-granola smell. You name it, he had it. The school year was spent with the class broken up into two groups (let's call those groups "boys" and "girls", shall we?) with the same goal shared by both groups: write a program for playing Craps. I was the youngest in the class and one of the boys was a Mormon - an 8th grader who really resented my presence and made it his goal in life to make me as miserable as possible - and the two of us represented the greatest storehouse of knowledge about the game. That is to say, we knew nothing. But the teacher taught us somehow, both how to play Craps and how to write a program using Basic. During our free time we were allowed to use this brand new thing called the Internet to play Oregon Trail (dial up the number with the rotary phone, get the squawky sound, put the receiver down on the machine connected to the dot matrix printer, hope it connected so we wouldn't have to start over). Our teacher espoused the wonders of what the Internet would one day be while we listened with that particular brand of eye-rolling skepticism that middle and high schoolers can do so well. He raved about the idea of the collected works of Shakespeare being housed at a remote location - or on a stack of floppy disks - that any one could access for free. No big, heavy books! Free information. It would be a marvel.

Fast forward and all those ideals our hippy teacher talked about have come to pass. But humans being humans, of course it's not *quite* the Utopia of high minded intellectualism he was so excited about. Still, there's lots to love. Tonight it all started over at Doug's blog on the subject of re-makes. Now, this is a touchy topic in my house. More often than not all we can do is lament with the tears and the woe when we hear a re-make of a beloved song because so often the re-makes are so terribly awful. All they do is ruin the song and make us wish for a time machine so we can go back to a moment *before* something so lovely became so ruined. Well, you can see a few examples of what I think are good and bad re-makes over at Doug's if you are so inclined. I'll be circling back round to this topic, you can rest assured on that.

But for now I have to take you down the bunny trail I went on tonight. Thinking about bands like Tears for Fears (boy did I love Mad World back in the day; hearing that song now brings back springtime memories in technicolor detail) had me searching for other songs I adored and didn't think I'd ever see in video form again. But thanks to the magic and wonder that is the Internet, they're on YouTube. It's like some kind of miracle. Seriously. Ages ago I looked up things like Two Hearts Beat as One, The Unforgettable Fire (love and adore that song like...well, there are no words), New Year's Day and of course I looked for that Conspiracy of Hope Tour moment when The Police handed off the Biggest Band in the World honors to U2 (didn't find that moment, but did find this rendition of Maggie's Farm, which is interesting from the perspective of realizing they were on a break from recording The Joshua Tree when they did this tour for Amnesty International. Well, ok, maybe it's only interesting to the U2 fan. Ahem. Moving on.)

No, all that U2 look up is old news. What I did tonight was look up things like The Motels Suddenly Last Summer, Joy Division's Love Will Tear Us Apart, The Cure's A Forest, The Smiths How Soon is Now (one of the coolest guitar performances ever), Information Society's What's On Your Mind, Talking Heads Burning Down the House (houses courtesy of Portland, Oregon), 'Til Tuesday's Voices Carry & Coming Up Close, Soft Cell's Tainted Love (who can resist that song?), and INXS's The One Thing (it was love at first concert with that band - they were so very, very good) and Kiss the Dirt (because I have a particular college experience associated with this song that I love remembering; it's like the sound of freedom, in a nutshell).

Hours passed happily. Some might say too many hours.

Then I decided to go really out there and see if I could find two favorites of my friends and I. Obscure songs not heard since approximately 1988. Songs few outside of our little circle had heard of even at the time. And they were there! Unbelievable! So without further ado, I'll now bring you a little time capsule from the 1980s. Never heard of these songs? No worries, hardly anyone has!

First, a little English band called Vitamin Z:


And last but not least, a catchy little number by Bourgeois Tagg (who? yeah, that's right - Bourgeois Tagg):


Isn't the Internet amazing? Like, seriously amazing? Yeah, I think so, too.