Weekend Introduction to New Wave Radio

 

4

Back in the early 90’s, maybe around 1990, there was a radio program on a local station that aired on Friday evenings. For me, these were lonely seeming times when neither myself or any of my friends were yet able to drive. I spent a lot of time reading, as I mentioned in a previous post. This was long before I had begun really purchasing my own music – long before I owned nearly every Cure record on cassette, long before I started buying them on CD, and long before I really knew about the existence of anyone like Bauhaus or Sisters of Mercy.

Also, there was nowhere to go. Growing up in the midwest rustbelt is a fantastic place for photo opportunities if you are into that whole postapocalyptic abandoned industrial sort of setting. Other than that, my hometown, and towns nearby, didn’t have a whole lot to offer socially. I grew up in a farmhouse on a dirt road about ten miles from the nearest town. And I should describe what I mean when I use the word “town.” My town was a mostly agricultural area, just a few exits north on the highway from where the auto factories started shutting down and the land started to be used for growing things instead of building them.  At the most, my town had four traffic lights, a grocery store, a video rental store with a pool table,  an eight lane bowling alley, a McDonalds and, much later, a Burger King. We had one high school and two elementary schools in the entire county.

But I digress. Aside from a roller skating rink that was two towns over and thirty minutes away, (at which i spent a fair amount of windblown weekend nights,) there was nowhere for me to go. I didn’t have a phone in my room yet to call anyone, so local radio was the key to relieving boredom. Cell phones weren’t popular yet. Cordless phones, important so that you didn’t have to twist around a cord and hide in a broom close,speaking in hushed tones so your parents couldn’t hear your confidential conversations, were just on the verge of becoming an everyday item. And I didn’t really have many friends to call anyway.  On weekend nights, there was an 80’s retro program that would air in all its synth-pop new-wave glory.  This is where I first heard of The Cure, Depeche Mode, Adam Ant, and probably some things that didn’t yet resonate with me but would later on.  I remember everything sounding so new and upbeat, listening to the songs while i was drawing and writing and probably procrastinating cleaning my mess of a room.  It definitely made me feel less of that pre-teen loneliness and angst .

At some point, I started recording songs off of the radio. I made early, crude mixtapes, each song starting with a loud shuffling sound as i hurried to press the record button in time to get the beginning of the song. I had to be quick about this – there was rarely any warning that the coveted song would be playing -I just had to be ready and close to the radio to press that record button. After the song was finished, I would carefully rewind a couple of seconds to get a nice, clean end to the song – because inevitably, instead of sitting in front of the radio for three minutes or so, I would walk away to do something else and forget about the recording entirely.  Now imagine that process repeating for about ten songs or so to fill up one side of a sixty minute casette tape.Mix tapes were an art, and I was merely an apprentice.  It’s a wonder we were bored at all in those days. There was not a whole lot of instant gratification – everything was a process.

MTV was also a pretty big deal during that time. Is MTV still around? Do they still play videos? The best way in my limited world view to put a visual against my coveted mixtape songs was to watch old videos. Pretty much every day, you could turn on MTV at any time and see 80’s pop visuals of  Madonna, Depeche Mode, The Cure, INXS, A Flock of Seagulls, Duran Duran.. right alongside the up and coming grunge trends. I think this greatly influenced my young fashion aesthetic, but I’ll talk more about the fashion in an upcoming post.

This is for those of you stuck in a small town on a Friday night huddled in front of your flickering screen,  feeling alone because you feel like there is nothing for you beyond your front door. There is a gigantic, amazing world out there, and sometimes it just takes time to explore, to find where you fit into it all. You are fortunate in some ways that the internet and social media have made everyone so connected and the world so much smaller. I didn’t really have that, not in the technological way that we do now. And If I could escape my rural, small town surroundings, so can you.

Thanks for reading,

M.

 

 

 

 


The Teenage New-Age Book Junkie

3

Before I could drive, I spent a lot of time obsessing over the New Age section in the mall bookstore. Between those few shelves, it seems like all other genres just disappeared.  The bookstore at the nearest mall was pretty much the only reason I had for getting out of my house. I’ve always tended to jump headfirst into anything that would peak my interest and soon it was as if there were no other sections in the bookstore.  A mild interest in Astrology progressed into more slightly more diverse realms. I bought my first pack of tarot cards and tried to give myself a reading. I don’t know if I ever really understood the meanings of the cards – definitely not enough to give myself any insight into the future. If i had gained the insight, I might have done things differently – or not. I was also faintly interested in Pagan and Wiccan topics, herbs and natural remedies, witches almanacs, and supernatural topics like spirits, vampires, and werewolves. I also owned nearly all of Anton Lavey’s books. I was always more interested in the theology than the application of any occult related practices, however. When it comes down to it. I like my life without the known presence of anything supernatural. My imagination is already overactive. I don’t need to turn around and glimpse anything otherworldly over my shoulder.

That being said, I didn’t always feel this way  – like a big scaredy cat. I’ve always had an interest in so-called darker things, and dipping a toe into the water of occult studies just seemed natural.

I had a Ouija board in Elementary school. Maybe around Fifth grade or so. Whenever a friend came over, we would try to summon conversation with various entities – God, Elvis, Buddy Holly, a recently deceased Great-Aunt that I had only met once and whose name I can no longer recall. I took the board to school. I had a crowd of friends who wanted to play on the playground, and another set who would help me balance the planchette on the long dusty school bus ride home.

After a time, the board lost its charm. It sat in an upper shelf of my closet until around Seventh grade when a friend and I rediscovered it just in time for a sleepover at her house. We pulled it out, talked for a while with a so-called entity whose name is long forgotten. We learned it liked music and pulled out a cassette tape from the Cocktail Soundtrack, (we were nerds, obviously,) and started dancing to the music. After a moment, I stopped dancing but the floorboard near me continued to pound. We were terrified. Maybe it was just a consequence of movement in an old, falling apart farmhouse, but that was the end of that.

After that, my interest was purely one of a scholarly manner.

I had several years after of on and off again  dabbling in what could be called an earth based spirituality. I didn’t want to mess with Gods or Goddesses of any sort, but I felt in tune with nature around me. I lived in a very rural area with limited television. The internet was so far nonexistent. Our small bit of land, surrounded on two sides by corn or wheat fields and a dusty gravel road on another, had a garden, tons of climbing trees, and lots of privacy. It was easy to be surrounded by nature without distraction.

Rocks and things that come from the Earth had interested me since Elementary school. Our property had once been Reservation land, and it wasn’t uncommon to find arrowheads. I collected them and various rocks when we traveled. I learned the names of different rocks and started collecting crystals. Later, I started to learn the properties of the stones, how they could possibly protect me from or ward off things that were wanted. I sprinkled salt in doorways. I burned sage. I dabbled, but I always felt more comfortable with things that came from the Earth than i did with the idea of an unseen presence from the Heavens.

I cannot say for sure what influenced me in these pursuits but my interest in the occult slowly  died off eventually without much consequence. I definitely feel more like myself after a good walk in the woods, appreciating all that grows around me, and the scent of trees and Earth. I used to say that a Sunday hike in the woods was my Church and in a lot of ways I feel that way even still.

I’m writing this because I do think that spending all that time in the New Age shelving was a bit of a pit stop on way to appreciating a Gothic lifestyle. In all honesty, it doesn’t have the slightest thing to do with becoming a Goth.  It definitely wasn’t required and I would have found my way there, through the music, literature, and fashion, with or without it. I don’t want anyone reading this to think that they have to dabble or study the way I did. Instagram fashion is already full of those symbols. If that’s your thing – well, cool. But it doesn’t have to be.

Thanks for reading,

M.

This post powered by:

My Dying Bride: Turn Loose the Swans

Sisters Of Mercy: Floodland

 

 


On Disintegration & Certain Beginnings

1

I remember my first real stereo in the 90’s.  It was a large ordeal with detachable speakers, two cassette decks, a radio tuner, and a compact disc player. It was probably relatively expensive and and kind of a big deal to have my own “entertainment system” and not have to share with my parents in our living room. This was mine, to play music alone in my room, for my ears only.

The Cure was on the radio a lot in those days. Friday I’m In Love was in constant rotation, and Just Like Heaven and Love Song were played a lot as well. The first thing I did to complement my new stereo was run out and get a copy of The Cure’s Disintegration.  It was several years old by the time I bought it.  I’m not sure why I picked this one – maybe I had cassettes of the others already. Maybe I liked the artwork. Not sure. I just know that purchasing this particular album was a very defining moment for me, both personally and musically.

Now, I’m not here to discuss it, but I wont deny that there is a great debate whether The Cure is Goth or not. It doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things. One likes music because it stirs something within them, (or at least i do,)  whether it slips neatly into a compartment or not.

Disintegration is such a lush, layered album. With my stereo set up on the shelves of the headboard of my bed, I would plug in some headphones, light some black candles – why did all of the black candles back then smell like leather, musk, and men’s perfume? – and lay down and listen. This album is so comforting to me – there are layers upon layers of notes and tones to find in the songs. There are so many possible meanings in their words.  I would close my eyes and get lost in the guitar and lyrics. Sometimes, i would think about my own attempts at writing and, when inspiration struck, get up and work on that.  At this age, having the freedom to listen to music of my own choosing without any interruption at all was the epitome of heaven.

My fourteen year old self was particularly struck by the lyrics of Untitled. One of the most fantastic things about music and lyrics is that the listener can interpret them any way their heart desires. I was fascinated by the idea of love and relationships. I hadn’t had anything even close to a relationship with a boy just then, but  I was always obsessed with stories of unrequited love.

Hopelessly drift in the eyes of the ghost again
Down on my knees and my hands in the air again
Pushing my face in the memory of you again
But I never know if it’s real

Never know how I wanted to feel
Never quite said what I wanted to say to you
Never quite managed the words to explain to you
Never quite knew how to make them believable
And now the time has gone
Another time undone

Never quite said what I wanted to say to you
Never quite managed the words to explain to you
Never quite knew how to make them believable
And now the time has gone
Another time undone

Hopelessly fighting the devil futility
Feeling the monster climb deeper inside of me
Feeling him gnawing my heart away hungrily
I’ll never lose this pain
Never dream of you again

The Cure playing Untitled live in 1997: this is also around the time that I was able to experience  seeing them live for the first time. More on that in another post.

This entry was inspired by the first few lines of an intro into my own personal story of finding the Goth subculture but sort of took on a life of its own.  The Cure’s Music has been a staple of my everyday existence for decades. It seems only fitting that the story starts there.

Can you remember the first band or song that took you down a certain path in your life and how it made you feel the first time you sat down alone, put on some headphones, (or stood in the middle of a crowded concert but felt like you were the only person there,)and gave it a really good listen?

Thanks for reading,

M.

 

 

 

 

 


%d bloggers like this: