Every time I think I’m escaping the rabbit hole of 80s college rock and moving on, I end up slinking back in again! Well, this time I’m not working on a related writing project…I’m just enjoying the music this time out, while I wait for new releases to come out.
Plus, I get to listen to some of my radio mixtapes from back in the day! It was a little over thirty years ago that I decided to put a blank tape in my Jonzbox and let it record 30 to 45 minutes of whatever WMUA was playing that evening, just to get a taste of their playlist. I’d just bought a six-foot retractable antenna for the radio, which boosted the signal considerably, so I could go nuts at any time of day. Soon I’d expand to other stations, with WAMH becoming my home base for the rest of the decade.
By early 1987 I’d changed things up in my bedroom. It had gotten a new coat of paint, I’d gotten rid of some furniture I’d grown out of, and my radio had moved across the room to the top of the bookcase, where the few books that I had were slowly being shoved out to make way for my growing cassette collection. I was hanging out with the Vanishing Misfits gang, which meant that a goodly amount of my collection at the time was borrowed albums dubbed onto tapes of questionable quality and age. But hey, as long as I had the tunage, that’s all that mattered!
Interestingly, I only made one college radio tape that year, but I think it was because all my hard-earned money was going to buy albums down in the Pioneer Valley! I did make a few mixtapes that year, though, mainly commercial radio stuff, but by the end of that year I was itching to make more. I had one of my buddies who was into the hardcore punk/metal scene (he also introduced me to Slayer’s Reign in Blood…at catechism class, no less!) make me a mix on the back of a cassette dub I had of The Sisters of Mercy’s Floodland (my favorite album of the moment and possibly my number 2 favorite of the year, just under Music for the Masses).
Thinking back, 1987 was definitely a sea change year on multiple levels for me. Changes in friendships, tastes in music, personal and emotional outlook. My writing was still crap, but it was better crap than what I’d been writing just a few years earlier. Hell, I was even changing the way I looked, letting my hair grow longer (no more 80s spike, thank god), wearing concert tees and pins of alternative bands. Taking myself a bit more seriously. Sure, I had a hell of a lot more growing up to do, but that was the year it took hold. I was no longer the annoying nerd trying to fit in. I was the kid with the Walkman, listening to bands you’d never heard of. I was the kid who spent his study periods in the library, writing away in a notebook. It was the year I’d finally figured myself out and didn’t give a shit what anyone thought about it.