The Years In Rock
An incomplete list of personal rock milestones:
1974 Born (December 13, Columbus, OH). Grateful Dead have recently started their hiatus. Tangerine Dream performed a much-bootlegged show on this date in Reims, France, and recent web research reveals that Genesiss Lamb tour stopped in Passaic, NJ. George Harrison visits the White House.
1979 Around this time I discover the Beatles 1967-1970 double record and find it an intriguing alternative to Neil Diamond and John Denver.
1980 Faint memories of hearing Woman, Just Like Starting Over and Watching The Wheels on the radio. One Saturday morning, in the commercial break between cartoons, an announcer mentions that one of the Beatles is dead. Hope its not Paul, I remember thinking.
1981 For some reason, I bought a Rick Springfield album. I remember the first post-disco Bee Gees album arriving in the record bins, and not departing from them.
1982 A neighbor introduces me to an up-and-comer named Bruce Springsteen and I remember listening to The River many times. I ask for his new album for my birthday and am surprised when it turns out to be a dark acoustic record. Olivia Newton Johns Physical is the height of sexually assertive radio fare.
1983 Thriller. I discover MTV on cable. Talking Headss Once In A Lifetime is bewildering.
1984 Pink Floyd have become one of my favorite bands. A grocery store rock magazine has an article about them with quotes from a label publicist assuring fans that they havent broken up. Two new female MTV-oriented artists, Madonna and Cyndi Lauper, arrive on the scene. Someone in Newsweek predicts that Laupers stardom will last while Madonna will be gone within a year.
1985 I put on the Rolling Stoness Hot Rocks at a school party and everyone seems relieved when I take it off and Purple Rain starts back up. Springsteen is no longer an up-and-comer thanks to Born In The USA. I discover Rolling Stone and notice an article about an up-and-coming group called U2. I hear of REM for the first time through an MTV video featuring obscure images and a low-pitched Southern voice repeating the chorus cant get there from here.
1986 I notice no one seems to care about Paul McCartneys new albums anymore. My parents buy a new stereo system including a CD player for Christmas.
1987 U2 are no longer up-and-comers thanks to The Joshua Tree. I spend a few days in the hospital with pneumonia and my parents bring me the Sunday arts section of the local paper. The local rock critic is disappointed by the new Springsteen and prefers the new Mellencamp. I discover Musician, which I prefer to Rolling Stone.
1988 In the spring, I discover a record store with a better vinyl selection than the other mall shops. In the fall, I switch schools and meet the first guy my age whos heard of the Smiths. Shortly after Christmas, I go to the record store I discovered in the spring and find that theyve gotten rid of most of their vinyl in favor of CDs.
1990 Columbus gets its first alternative rock station.
1991 I start setting the VCR to record 120 Minutes so I can keep up with new bands. One night I snag the premiere of REMs Losing My Religion, a pleasant surprise after the disappointing Green.
1992 By this time, I have been doing record reviews for the school newspaper for a while. I ask another student if hes interested in writing about the two new Springsteen releases. He comments that he wouldnt keep them after hes done writing about them.
1993 After hearing a few guys in the Columbus Jazz Ensemble talk about Phish, I buy Rift, find the first part a bit annoying and then am knocked out by them when I play through to the end. A few months later, I hear Junta in a classmates car on the way to Lollapalooza and am further knocked out.
1994 June: first Phish show. July: first (only) Grateful Dead show. In the fall, I come to find that there is almost never an alternative rock album I buy that I want to hear more than once.
1995 REM show. Probably my favorite rock concert by a non-improvising band.
1997 Move to Chicago. Most of my jobs my first five years there are in the Loop, enabling me to check the new releases at Tower every Tuesday.
1998 Musician folds. I see Phish three nights in a row for the only time. In the fall, I buy REMs Up and Phishs Story Of The Ghost on the day they come out. A lousy day.
1999 I joke to my friend from high school that, being involved in recording and performing Chicago bands, groups like Tortoise are now competition.
2000 My bands release CDs. Last Phish show. I start writing CD reviews again and get a lot of new CDs free.
2001 I buy the new REM in spite of my disappointment with Up. It inspires further fond memories of Green. My Chicago friends see one of the few shows by the Yankee Hotel Foxtrot Wilco lineup, which I miss because I am on the road in Bloomington, IN.
2002 After years of mooching, I get my own computer, with one incentive being the Live Phish downloads program. I try dial-up and leave the computer on overnight to get MP3s of the 10/7/00 show. A few days later I succumb to the lure of DSL.
2003 Bit Torrent.
2004 Phish disbands. My girlfriend-turned-fiancrecommends to me that I put news CDs which seem interesting on hold at the library rather than buying them.
2005 The 70s lineup of Pink Floyd reunites for the first time since I bought Dark Side. Subsequent events make it appear likely that there will be no further reunions.
2006 Tower closes. I read a quote from a record company executive on a blog to the effect that its no longer viable to release CDs unless they have video content or other added value.