Hi-Identity: Girls Collecting Music -
What are your guilty pleasures? Who do you think is under-rated?
Jo (Chicago): My early guilty pleasures: The Archies' "Sugar, Sugar," Desmond Decker & The Aces' "The Israelites," Melanie's "Brand New Key," Dr. Hook & The Medicine Show's "Sylvia's Mother," 1910 Fruitgum Company's "Indian Giver."
Nerdia (LA): Guilty Pleasures are my category! I still love "Rhinestone Cowboy," "Somewhere Down the Road" and "Laughter in the Rain" even more so because I'm not supposed to. I've recently rekindled my love for Adult Contemporary at work on internet radio. I'm experiencing an oddly new phenomenon - liking songs I once hated with a passion like Captain & Tennille’s sappy "Muscrat Love" and "Wildfire" by Michael Martin Murphy...you know, the song about the ghost horse. The trend disturbs me but I’m going with it. I do have one pleasure even I feel guilty about. Air Supply’s "All Out of Love." I get shamefully caught up in its over-the-top orchestrations.
I've never felt guilty about Cher, who can't get a single break in the respect department, decade-spanning Greatest Hits CD conquering the top ten billboard album chart for two months or no. Abba is under-rated too.
Jo (Chicago): I like Abba too -- though I don't think I have any of their albums. There's a number of artists I really like but haven't collected much -- like U2 and Fleetwood Mac. I don't know why (residue from my early "singles" mentality?). I think, in years to come, I'll be a steady customer for "Best of" series -- they'll be a boon to me as I try to catch up. I was THRILLED when MCA sent me "The Mamas and the Papas Greatest Hits" and "The Cass Elliot Collection" to review in my "Cricket in the Corner" column. I also enjoy reviewing stuff from Hip-O Records -- they have a wonderful sense of humor, not to mention unapologetic panache, in the compilations they put out. Great fun -- I get to own stuff I missed and can now enjoy guilt-free (reviewer's immunity).
Julie and I were laughing about a MAJOR guilty pleasure we shared from the '70s -- disco music. Saw Saturday Night Fever the first week it opened; bought the soundtrack. I also had a couple of Village People albums -- thought they were a hoot. We both liked Donna Summer -- though we were among those who thought at first she was actually a man in drag. I don't remember being teased about liking disco. I guess that was in part because it was so pervasive at the time; it defined pop chic and was fun -- in much the same way dance music is today. It amuses me that some people today think disco is dead. It just grew up a little and got a serious subwoofer.
Women felt welcome in the disco genre. A lot of it was very romantic. Female friends of mine loved getting dressed up and dancing with guys who also went to the trouble of not only getting spiffed up as part of the spectacle, but learning more complex steps than the usual straight white male muscle group spasms that passed for dancing. Disco was polished. It attracted flashy participants, the antithesis of the cynical, socially inept types so many stereotypical male record hoarders seem to be. On the down side, there was also a superficiality that went beyond guilty-pleasure indulgence. Disco begot its own subculture of pretentious fools. I knew a woman who based her first marriage on her husband's prowess under the disco ball. "Let's face it," she told me, "I just couldn't marry someone who can't dance." Let's face it?? Soon enough she faced a divorce.
It also represented a deeper end of the trendy pool -- the fellowship of This Is Your Brain on Designer Drugs. I remember going to a disco with a group that included a gay teacher and his partner. The teacher spent the evening trying to persuade everyone to do poppers -- which until that evening, dork product of the Catholic school system that I was, I hadn't even heard of -- and "Mickey Mouse" (LSD). I took a pass and decided that scene was not for me.
Jo (Chicago): Remember Disco Demolition Day -- or whatever the hell the idiot DJ organizer called it-- at one of the baseball parks here? It was an event widely regarded as the death of disco. In my acute feminist consciousness of those years, I thought it was yet another example of the male need to own music, arbitrate listeners' tastes, and pass judgment (which in disco's case required obliteration -- there was a lot of homophobia at work there).
Nerdia (LA): Could little ole Disco have truly been the death of music? Were we barely a-spared some evil kind of horror of funny hair, clothes, funk and disco beats when the 80s saved us with funny hair, clothes, and less funky drum machines?
I've always thought there was some not-so-subtle racism going on, too. Disco was celebratory in its blackness, with funk and soul influences. And black men dancing - could that have been a threat to the wallflower rock radio listeners? Those people burning records in baseball parks looked awfully white to me. And no one seems to agree exactly as to what was so awful about disco? The scene, the machinery of throbbing beats? The catchy lite lyrics? Take out the drum machines and add a drummer. If you hate lite lyrics, you pretty much wipe out large portions of 60s, 70s and 80s music...from The Beach Boys to INXS.
Jo (Chicago): Today Julie and I both have brain invader songs from disco days. You know -- tunes you only have to be reminded of with a few chords, and you're doomed to having them stuck in your head all day. Mine is "Funkytown." Julie's is "I Will Survive." As a joke, I made a couple of "Funkytown" sounds for my computer. What's your brain invader tune?
Nerdia (LA): My annoying brain invader song sounds like this: "I'm still Jenny from the block/I used to have a little now I have alot." I give in to it. I think this is our subconscious mind's way of subverting our rigid tastes. Our repressed self sticking it to us. Resistance is futile.
Jo (Chicago): There's a lot of self-accepting in indulging your inner gremlin who thrives on the crap, the kitsch, and the ugly. I think it's a valuable survival skill for avoiding becoming an insufferable bore.
Nerdia (LA): I really don't like the Suzanne Vega song "Luka". "My Name is Luka...I live on the 2nd Floor...I live upstairs from you...Yes, I think you've seen me before." I really don't like it. Therefore, I haven't been able to get it out of my head - for YEARS. I've started to rewrite the lyrics with other characters, like my dog: "My name is Helga. I live on the second floor. Yes, I think you've heard me barking before."
Jo (Chicago): ROTFL! I hate that song too! I also hate that dumb "What if God was one of us?/Just a slob like one of us?" dirge. I likewise have a visceral reaction to anything by the Counting Crows -- for some reason their stuff makes me feel like I've been Chinese water-tortured. Maybe I should try substituting my own lyrics.
6. Where Are You Today?
What are you listening to now? What do you like that might surprise people? What shows are you going to see?
Nerdia (LA): For me - I think, because I love Nerd music, no one expects that I would have any cool CDs. It's always a surprise to people that I have R&B records, considering I'm so white...and nerdy looking. Everyone always acts startled when they come across my Laura Nero with Labelle CD for some reason.
I'm always over-spending on import & bootleg Cher rarities. I have a universe of R&B to explore and I've barely cracked gospel. I'm also enjoying regressing back into Adult Contemporary 70s after 20 years. My last CDs purchases:
(It's humorous to see how many synonyms for Greatest Hits the music industry can come up with? My favorite is The Very Best of...as if to say "No...this time we really mean it!")
As far as concerts, Christopher got me a ticket to see Maria McKee recently and I went to The Cochella Music festival in April and enjoyed seeing The White Stripes. Julie got me into Ben Folds this way - who I've seen twice and will be seeing again. I've seen Cher and John Waite quite a few times. I'd see Annie Lennox and The Red Hot Chili Peppers many more times. I liked seeing Fleetwood Mac recently much more than I though I would given how unexciting their video performances are.
Jo (Chicago): Julie and I won tickets to the July 27 "free" Shania Twain "Up! Live in Chicago" concert (to be aired on NBC on August 19). I'm not a country music fan, but I do like some crossover stuff, and Shania projects a strong female image I appreciate. It was a pretty comfortable environment for all ages and tastes in that crowd of some 50,000.
On the other hand, lately I've been drawn to Dave Matthews. Now, here's a case where I feel like a real outsider with my nose pressed against the glass. I don't yet know his material well, and I expected his fan base to be, well, younger than I'm used to. Recently Julie and I attended our first Dave Matthews Band concert. We weren't quite the oldest farts in the crowd, but close! First we were disappointed there was no tour program -- how old-school is that?! Then we were pissed the sound system sucked out loud -- it was the Dave Muddy Band. To top things off, it bugged us no end that the kids around us used the show as a backdrop for getting stoned/drunk and making out (the couple in front of us needed serious hosing down).
I've never gone to an Alanis Morisette concert, but I felt similarly out of my element buying Jagged Little Pill. I'd seen her perform "You Oughta Know" on TV, and thought it was just stunning. Have you experienced anything like this silly age-consciousness phenomenon regarding the music you've gravitated toward recently?
Nerdia (LA): I think because I was listening to so much music my older brothers liked, I always felt too young for it. I should have been listening to Duran Duran instead of Journey and Fleetwood Mac. So I haven't hit that state of feeling too old for something. I will always feel too young to own a Steve Miller Band CD. I've never been especially hooked in so I'm never feeling left out. Coolia, by definition, and Julia (AC's rap aficiando) keep me loosely connected to what the kids are up to these days. Keeping on top of things is a full time job. As Susan Sarandon says in Witches of Eastwick, sometimes I just can't face it.
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