Tag Archives: 80s

A Little Time Could Change Your Mind: 70-80s Nostalgia!

I was scanning Facebook, trying to decide what to write about this morning when I stumbled upon a post from a friend that had pictures of various items I should remember from growing up in the 70s/80s. I clicked on it, figuring I’d see a few things that would make me smile and I’d be on my way.

Well, there were over 300 photos of things I actually do remember!  Everything from jelly shoes to Pert shampoo.  There were photos of the Steam and Curl that I burnt my neck and forehead on, repeatedly (Yes, I’m that coordinated and I have actual scars to prove it.), to the pair of roller skates that I had to have one Christmas. Does anyone remember Loves Baby Soft?  I can still remember how it smelled, probably because the scent nearly bowled me over each time I’d walk into the girls’ bathroom at school during the fifth grade.  I hadn’t even gotten all the way through the photos before I decided what my blog would be about today.

You see, I can remember my mom talking about the stuff she grew up with. From time to time, I can still get her started on a decent walk down memory lane. I am always fascinated to hear her tales of the soda shops and getting caught smoking in a car outside of McDonald’s. As a kid, I would normally feign annoyance when she’d start in with her music, but at the same time, I secretly liked it.  It wasn’t just because of the music itself – which admittedly I enjoy – but because those memories were so incredibly powerful for her.  I liked seeing that response! But almost as quickly, my mom tends to remind me of how difficult her childhood was. She always says she didn’t have a happy childhood, describing how she was alone and didn’t have friends. Yet the stories she shares when we talk about music or places she went and things she did during that time don’t sound that bad.

When I think about it, sixth through eighth grade (ages 10-13 for me) were not necessarily the easiest years, at least not socially. I had a rough time with girls at school. When I see pictures of myself from that time, my awkwardness is front and center. I can remember having other girls tease me as I walked to my locker each morning, and it got to the point that I’d purposefully be late to class or arrange to get the things I needed for my first class before I left school the afternoon before, and not even bother going to my locker before first period in order to avoid the situation. Even in my own circle of friends, we bounced between being the target of ridicule or being the one ridiculing one of the others, in some sort of sick “beat, or be beaten” ritual. It was awful. Yet, a lot of these products and images are from that same period of time, and the memories I think of aren’t at all bad. I discovered Duran Duran for the first time at some point during sixth grade, for crying out loud. It is those memories I think about most, not the bad stuff.

Sure, I could spend all of my time thinking about the horrible things that happened during my childhood. The memory of a certain Lisa standing at her locker, and offhandedly telling me how ugly and useless I was, and that I should go kill myself is still remarkably strong, thirty-some years later. There are enough of those instances still in my memory that yes, I could spend a lot of my time thinking about them. I suspect I’m not alone. That said, I’d much rather focus on the happy things. I’m not interested in being angry, or even sad, all of the time.  After all, I found Duran Duran during that same period of time. As all of you probably know from your own experience, the memories of that band are pretty damn powerful on their own.

If I added a picture of Duran Duran,  or an iconic design or something representing them to that Facebook post – which is here, go enjoy a walk down memory lane as you click-through the images – what would I choose?  What is the most iconic image of them that would immediately cause those of us who grew up in the 70s & 80s to smile? I’m nearly stumped. There are so many, and it’s difficult for me to stop the knee jerk reaction of over thinking it! Like all of you, I am a die-hard, incredibly long time fan.

This one, posted on billboard.com as they discussed the 10 Essential Cuts from the band, is the same poster that almost always comes to mind from my room when I think back on it.  Of course, so does this one, and this one too. But there’s always the cover of Rio, and even the slanted D design.  Each of them stir memories, and every single one is as powerful as the next.

Strangely, I have wondered from time to time if my insistence in following a band that stirs memories from one of the most difficult periods in my life isn’t some sort of bizarre, self-torture practice! The truth is, the band is probably what saved those years for me. The music was the one thing I could count on.

Over the years since, I still find some social situations to be just as annoying as they were back “in the day”. I still struggle with the way women behave when they are in groups. I’d rather stab myself in the eye than go up to a group of women and try to join in. This is why our meet-ups are similar to shock therapy for me, and it’s a direct result from my days in the halls at Sunflower Intermediate. Even so, I still love Lip Smackers, and I can still taste the grape flavor of Bubble Yum bubble gum – it was the ONLY gum I’d chew and the ONLY flavor of grape I like. And of course, hearing “Is There Something I Should Know” still makes my heart sing.

-R

“What Did I…” (Feat. Dom Brown): Authentically Michael Kratz!

Amanda and I feel extremely fortunate to have had the opportunity to meet so many wonderful fellow fans, and people we would have likely never crossed paths with otherwise. Recently, another such moment occurred when Amanda texted me while I was camping in the middle of a forest in the Columbia River Gorge in Washington (shout out for wi-fi!), letting me know that Dom was a featured guitar player for a new song by someone named Michael Kratz out of Denmark. I diligently downloaded the song when I got home, and enjoyed the slight flashback to the 80s in the process. I blogged about it, and assumed that would be the end of the story, right?

Wrong.

A few weeks later, I got an email from Michael himself, thanking me for writing about it, and offering me the chance to get an early copy of another unreleased song that also features Dom.

First of all, I have to tell you that Michael is the real deal. He’s a very nice guy, with a fantastic career to boot. I don’t know why I hadn’t heard of him prior to August of this year, but like most other things in life—the more you know, the more you recognize you really don’t know.  Secondly, Michael Kratz is a Duranie. Who knew?!? (turns out, a lot of Duran fans did. I’m just a bit late to the party, as usual!)  I promptly asked Michael if he’d be willing to do a short Q&A for me since I know next to nothing about him, to which he agreed, and it wasn’t long after that I had new music and a Q&A in my inbox greeting me.

If I had to sum up Michael in one word,  it would be “authentic”. He is genuine in every sense, including his approach to music, which he describes as “old school”.  His sound gives a loud shout out to the 1980’s, and Michael embraces this.

“I think my sound is pretty old-school. After many years in the music business I figured out, that I must be honest to myself and my roots. I have released several albums with different bands, but it was difficult for me to relate to the way the music was produced.”

He likes to call his brand of music West Coast, and if you think back to bands like Toto, Michael McDonald, Richard Marx, Marc Jordan…and I’d even add a bit of Cutting Crew to that list…his music fits in very well in that lineup.  Rather than try to be something he’s not, he found a producer, namely Kasper Viinburg (and his father Ole Viinburg) who understood and appreciated the sound he was trying to attain. I think any of us who have been around for the entire evolution of Duran Duran recognize how difficult it can be to find a producer that is equal parts of push and pull (pushing to reach new levels, pulling the authentic, real sound out).

Having grown up on the west coast, I certainly heard a lot of that music on the radio.  If you take a look at my iTunes, you’ll see quite a bit of that in my library as evidence. It isn’t a stretch for me to listen to “What Did I…”.  As I listen to the opening notes, I can’t help  but think of Richard Marx, in the same way that I thought of Toto or Michael McDonald when I heard “Never Take Us Alive”.  While sure, the sound isn’t necessarily pulse-pounding, state-of-the-art EDM, it is clear, authentic, and real, which I appreciate.  Dom’s guitar gives the melody a modern edge without completely blowing the song out of the water. There’s something to be said in this day and age for music that holds true to the roots of the writer while seeking to be contemporary. “What Did I…” hits all of those notes. A little something more I picked up on after listening several times— Dom’s blues influence is evident. I challenge anyone to give this a listen, and then take “Please, Please” from Dom’s Blue to Brown for a spin. The similarities are there for the taking.

Overall, I’m thrilled to help out a fellow Duranie. There’s a part of me that finds a certain poetic justice in the fact that once again, it’s Duran Duran’s music that brings people together. I may have never heard of Michael had Dom never recorded with him. Yet here I am, writing about how like many of us, Michael recorded Sing Blue Silver from TV back in 1985, and he rewound and played “Save a Prayer” over and over again because he loved the song so much. Who hasn’t done that with their own favorite song or band member?  Michael has also had the chance to see the band quite a bit over the years, although because he’s a musician in his own right, he’s missed opportunities. Michael cites a story that only seems familiar to me because my overall luck has been similar.

“Back in 2008 when DD played in Odense (DK), I was playing in a venue right next to the stage. I got to see the support act (Saybia) and 10 minutes before DD should enter the stage I had to leave for my own soundcheck. So while tuning my drums I could hear the band’s starter, The Valley, and I couldn’t go out to see them. That was a bad day!”

While we’re on common ground as far as being fans goes, I can’t say I’ve ever missed a DD concert because a gig of my own was happening at the same time! Then there’s meeting and recording with a fellow musician who just happens to tour with Duran Duran…

“I just wrote him [Dom Brown] an email one Sunday afternoon.  I sent him some tracks and we talked about styles etc. and agreed to meet in October last year. My producer and I stayed with Dom at his studio for two days and we did two songs (“Never Take Us Alive” and “What Did I ..?”. He is very nice and it was very easy to work with him.”

Michael Kratz is one hard-working musician. “What Did I…” is due out tomorrow, so grab your copy!  His new album, Live Your Life, which includes “What Did I…”, is due out October 26. In addition to Dom, Michael worked Steve Lukather of Toto, Michael Landau (Michael Jackson, Richard Marx), and David Garfield (George Benson).  He describes the album as ranging from the classic pop/rock vibe heard in “What Did I…” to a more modern Brit-pop, which intrigues me.  He also has re-recorded his first album, Cross that Line, which was just released, and then on November 30, he will release a double live-album that was recorded in February of 2017.

If being hard-working in the studio isn’t enough, Michael is also easy to connect with online. He’s no slouch to social media, and MANY Duranies have already found him on Facebook as well. (I dare say that I know of a guitar player that could learn a little something about self-promotion from him)

I want to thank Michael for pushing me to get back in touch with my own roots. Since first hearing his music, I find myself gravitating to my old Cutting Crew and Toto albums, which has been a refreshing change of pace. There’s something about the authenticity in the music that I’ve been enjoying, and it’s good to hear someone like Michael staying true to himself. The fact that he’s also a Duranie is a bonus! I look forward to staying in touch and keeping up-to-date with what he’s working on.

“What Did I…” and “Never Take Us Alive” are available on all digital platforms worldwide (“What Did I…” drops tomorrow!), and they’re also available as CD’s from Michael’s website http://www.michaelkratz.net.

If you want to connect with Michael Kratz (and I really think you should!), check him out:

Michael on Facebook

Michael on Twitter

Michael on Instagram

-R

 

 

 

 

 

Careless Memories – at thirty-six, this song is still no oldie!

 

On this date in 1981, Careless Memories was released in the UK.  If my math is right, that was 36 years ago.

Thirty six YEARS?  Well, then. Age is but a number, right?  I don’t know about the rest of you reading, but with every passing year, it is getting harder and harder to believe how long this catalog has been around…and particularly difficult to believe I’ve been a fan for this long.

I was listening to Duran Duran yesterday in the car (I know, it’s difficult to believe, but true!) with my youngest. I heard her humming along – I can’t even remember what that song was at the time, unfortunately – but she was humming and I was wondering to myself if that music sounded “old” to her. What I mean by that is, when I was a kid and my parents would put on Elvis Presley or whatever it was they would listen to, I would think of the music as “old”. It was their music, not really mine. I can remember my mom reaching up to the top of our refrigerator at home and switching on the radio. My mom loved listening to the radio as she would clean the house or whatever. I don’t know what station she listened to, but I can remember the DJ saying it was “The best of the oldies” or something like that.  In my car, I listen to a few different stations, but thankfully – none of them use the word “oldies”.  I can stomach a lot of things, but that is not one of them. Yet.  I didn’t ask her about my music as we drove – I just enjoyed listening to her hum along.

Later on, after I’d dropped her off for dance, an ad came on the radio for an 80s festival that is taking place on a beach near me in a couple of weeks.  At first, I thought about the festival itself and briefly contemplated whether or not I should go.  The music would be fun. The crowds and sun, on the other hand, aren’t necessarily a selling point. My thoughts drifted back to the whole “oldies” thing again because I was thinking about how cool it is that we have these festivals focusing on music I enjoy. I don’t only listen to 80s music, but Men Without Hats is playing at the festival and it’s a band I’ve never seen live. As I thought about that, I wondered how a festival like that must sound to my 20-year old. When I was her age, had my mom talked about a festival that played 50s or 60s music, for example – I would have called that an oldies festival. That makes my stomach churn a little.  Yet, it’s kind of interesting that I don’t remember there ever being festivals like that. In fact, I don’t remember my mom and dad ever talking much about concerts at all back then. My parents never really went to concerts the way I do, so for all I know – they just didn’t go. I think my generation is a little more outgoing when it comes to things like concerts and even buying music. We don’t let our age stop us, and we shouldn’t. We’re not dead yet, and we shouldn’t stop living just because of a silly number.

So, instead of thinking about how “old” Careless Memories might be today, I’m going to celebrate how ALIVE that song still makes me feel. And it does….so I’m hoping to hear it again live.  Soon!  Until then, I’ll watch this video from Houston of this year!

-R