Soundtrack: Fairport 1979-1980

I skim the New York Times online just about every day, and the last thing I look at is the “On This Day” feature. From the New York Times today:

“On Feb. 22, 1980, in a stunning upset, the United States Olympic hockey team defeated the Soviets at Lake Placid, N.Y., 4-to-3. (The U.S. team went on to win the gold medal.)

You can see the a picture of the actual front page that day here.

This event, along with the Georgia Bulldogs winning the national championship earlier that year, is one of my earliest sports memories. It also elicits thoughts of the two years I spent living in Fairport, New York, near Rochester. I watched this hockey game at my friend Karen Rapp’s house. All of her brothers and sisters and their friends were there and it was the second time I ever heard the F-word. When the U.S. won, all the crazy hockey fans all over the neighborhood ran outside and honked car horns and I just thought it was the best thing ever.

I was in 2nd or 3rd grade at that time and Karen was in Kindergarten or First grade. She was the youngest of one of about 10 kids, and I loved to hang out at their house, because it was kind of like being in an episode of The Brady Bunch or Eight is Enough. She shared a room with two of her sisters and I still remember sitting on her sister’s bed while falling asleep, gazing at their Pink Floyd The Wall poster. It creeped me out. In their den in the afternoons, all of the kids and their friends would huddle around a little television and watch M.A.S.H. I hated MASH at the time, but grew to love it later. The other reason that I loved to hang out there was that Mrs. Rapp made homemade pizza for all of the kids on Friday nights. She would slave away making pizzas for the kids and their friends, serve it to us all, and then retire to the living room couch, lay down, put a pair of huge headphones on her head (plugged into the humongous stereo receiver) and listen to Neil Diamond. Mrs. Rapp loved Neil Diamond. She would have left Mr. Rapp, despite his kickass homemade maple syrup, for Neil Diamond.

Neil Diamond, in turn, reminds me of New York. Except for “Cracklin’ Rosie,” which reminds me of drinking with Dan and Evan, or “Sweet Caroline,” which reminds me of that crappy Jimmy Fallon baseball movie, Fever Pitch, based on the book by Nick Hornby, whose writing I really like, even though he seems to keep writing the same book over and over and just changing the characters’ names. Okay, I admit it. I even kind of like the movie, because I could drink with Drew Barrymore, and I would be lying if I said Jimmy Fallon isn’t rotated in and out of my top ten every once in a while, and because I would fall in love with a Sox-lovin’ Jimmy Fallon type if I was ten years younger and a workaholic Drew Barrymore lookalike.

Which brings me in a very convoluted manner to the rest of the post. A while ago, an acquaintance posted this video from YouTube on his blog. It is Christopher Cross’ “Ride Like the Wind,” live. Boy did it bring back the memories of living in New York, at about 7 or 8 years old. I thought about my Fisher Price doll house, and turning the lights off for bed, then reading horse books or playing dolls by flashlight till late at night, the radio on so low that only I could hear it.

That was back when you mostly listened to the radio or your parents’ albums. (I could and might dedicate a complete series of posts to those.) You had no idea what the musicians looked like, or what an album was. You just liked a song or you didn’t, and you’d better hope you liked it, because either way, you would hear it run into the ground for the next year, blaring out of the hard plastic speaker in the side of the faux-wood-sided station wagon as you rattled around to the grocery store in the way back (there were three sections to our station wagon: “Front,” “Back,” and “Way Back.”)

Seat belts? What are seat belts?

Soundtrack: Fairport 1979-1981

“Ride Like the Wind” – Christopher Cross
“Sailing” – Christopher Cross
These two are kind of interchangeable, but i associate both of them inextricably with New York and listening to the radio undercover at night in my room

“Band on the Run” – Paul McCartney and Wings
This came out in like ’73, but I distinctly remember it playing on the radio while my sister and I took a bath in our bathroom in New York. The bathroom was brown, and had this weird wallpaper that had a Sherlock Holmes-like character with a brown bloodhound. The toilet seats were plastic and cushioned. Fancy.

“Keep on Loving You” – REO speedwagon
The ultimate Fairport song. Lisa, Karen Rapp, Matt Recht from next door and Jennifer Lofberg from across the street would all hang out in our garage. We were in an airband. We did this song.

“Another One Bites the Dust” – Queen
I remember this song coming out and everyone went crazy for it. I remember Karen’s brother, David, talking about it with my babysitter, Sarah. They were in high school. David was holding a Simon. Simon is this weird toy where it plays a noise, and you have to hit the colored bar corresponding to the sound you heard, and it starts playing more and more intricate patterns of sound. The person who can play what Simon plays the longest without fucking up wins. David, nerd that he was, pretended that he was some scientist who could control animals with sound, and the Simon was the sound machine he used to control us. Yes, the rest of the younger kids were animals.

“Another Brick in the Wall” – Pink Floyd
See above mention of the poster.

“Suicide is Painless” – MASH theme song – Mike Altman and Johnny Mandel
Yes, I had to look up the artists’ names. Reminds me of the dread i would feel every time I heard it (“Ugh, 30 minutes of complete boredom coming up”), much like the feeling I still get upon hearing the infernal ticking of the 60 Minutes clock.

“Do Ya Think I’m Sexy” – Rod Stewart
Another of the my babysitters, a next door neighbor, was a total stoner, I am pretty sure. She invited her boyfriend over while she was supposed to be watching us, and she let us watch Solid Gold and Rod Stewart did this song live, wearing these tight black pants, shaking his ass and she said she thought he had a cute butt. I thought she was a bad, bad girl for saying that, and I also wondered what could possibly be cute about someone’s butt?

“The Devil Went Down to Georgia” – The Charlie Daniels Band
I still love this song. It’s like a folk song, but it has that shock factor that you love as a kid (“I done tole you once, you son of a bitch, I’m the best that’s ever been.”) My parents had the album, and we played it on the record player in the office and totally spazzed out dancing to the electric fiddle bridge in the middle of it.

“Lost in Love” – Air Supply
I am not sure that this is not the same song as the Christopher Cross songs. Same feel. Bedroom at night, radio down low.

“Upside Down” – Diana Ross
Leftover disco 45 in my parents record collection. We wore this baby out. Dance Fever!

“Y.M.C.A.” – Village People
I cringe when i hear this now, but god almighty did I like it back in the day. At that time, I thought they just liked to dress as what they wanted to be when they grew up.

“The Winner Takes It All” – ABBA
Off of the album Super Trouper. Thank God I was not a boy, or i would be completely gay now. Village People? Diana Ross? ABBA? Dear God. We sang our guts out on this one. I wanted flowing dresses like the ones they had on the cover. I thought they looked like sexy Greek goddesses.

“Rumours” – Fleetwood Mac
I am not sure where Mom got this from, but i LOVED it. Probably the first album I ever really loved. I have to say, best album on this list. (Todd will probably argue that based on Wings being on here, but he is the only one who really listens to Wings.) I was forever staring at the cover and wondering why that guy’s belt looks like testicles hanging between his legs.

Trip down memory lane completed. Please exit the bus in an orderly manner. Maybe tomorrow you will get a recap of my parents’ albums’ influence on my musical tastes. Or, maybe you will get more ridicule of my sister and husband. Maybe you will be on the hotseat. You just never know with me.

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16 comments

  • It is a little freaky. Did you have Simon? If i remember correctly, as a kid, you always had ALL the toys.

  • I have to say I stopped reading thoroughly when I saw REO Speedwagon- If I am not way off that was my sister Dorothy’s first real concert- ask her about the feathered hair and dayglo leopard print bandannas…
    Mine was Genesis at the Omni with some Crabapple seventh grade teacher that you probably remember (this whole post proves your preternatural memory- though I thought it was based on smell for some reason…)

  • Ah, Merlin. We never had that, but someone i knew did. Looked like a big cel phone?

    Dorothy – Let’s see pics, please!

    Mike – Genesis is actually a pretty cool first band. not sure who your teacher was, but that is pretty cool they took you to the omni.

    My cousin Graham would argue that my first concert was KISS, which would be totally cool, except that he has a very vivid imagination and the whole story he tried to implant in my brain about seeing them was fabricated.

    I guess you could technically say that my first concert was Hank Williams, Jr., at Canandagua racetrack in New York. My parents took us to see it. Will have to dig those pictures out and scan them in. That’s my country cred story, and much cooler than my first pre-teen/teen show, which would be, I think, Bon Jovi with Cinderella at the Omni, with my mom, Jennifer Durkee, and Alyssa Delavan. I can’t remember, but i think someone else went, too. What I remember most was that I wore a red Outback Red shirt and thought I looked good. On the way home, we all had our concert tees on. Will have to see if there are any old pictures of that.

    Completely embarrassing.

  • What, no Foreigner? Styx? Hall & Oates?

    So Todd is a big Wings fan? Huh. I always associate Wings songs with the dental hygienists who would sing along with whatever came on the radio when they were cleaning my teeth (when we were kids).

    Whenever I hear “Another One Bites the Dust,” I can’t help but think about the fact that when you play it backwards, Freddie would say “It’s fun to smoke marijuana.” That was my first exposure to backwards-masking and I thought it was just the most magical thing ever.

    You need to ask Denise about “Suicide is Painless.” I won’t ruin her story but it is one of my favorite Denise stories.

    Grandad Johnson bought us an “Abba’s Greatest Hits” album one year for Christmas and we wore that record out. Don’t let Todd try to deny it. And we turned out strikingly heterosexual as anyone can attest.

  • Lyle. You are right. I was completely remiss in leaving out Foreigner. They are right up there with the others.

    That is funny about singing dental hygienists. And I bet you just about flipped over the Wizard of Oz/Dark Side of the Moon thing – i had forgotten about the playing records backwards stuff!

    Todd is not gonna like his credibility being stained by a little ABBA. Grandpa Johnson must have been a real character. hah.ABBa. Good stuff.

  • Speaking of “another one bites the dust”. Does anyone else who grew up in Atlanta remember the DJ getting fired for dedicating the song during the Atlanta Child Murders (Wayne Williams)?

    That is all I can think of each time that song comes on.

  • Annie, Mike must have me confused with another one of his many older sisters….My first concert was Journey at the Meadowlands in NJ. Can’t remember who opened up for them. I was a sophomore in High School, so it was probably early 1982. I did have the REO Speedwagon album, it was the second album I owned, the first being Player, bought for me for Christmas by my brother Tom.

    Your mention of the 1980 hockey team brought back memories. I was in 8th grade, and on the way to a basketball game. I was a cheerleader, and we used to roll our hair in sponge rollers the day before to get our pigtails to look like sausage curls. I remember driving up to the school, rollers still in my hair, with the game playing on the radio. When they won, everyone was blowing their horns. Funny the things you can remember with such clarity.

    and the way back in the station wagon? that was responsible for many a coffee can full of vomit. probably why to this day I don’t drink coffee…

  • Dorothy, what is “Player?” I have never even heard of that. BTW, I think Foreigner is way cooler than REO Speedwagon anyway.

    I cannot even imagine the can of sardines that must have been the Maier station wagon c. 1980. Remind me: Are there eight of you? Could you even all fit in a car at the same time?

  • Annie, Player was a band, I think their major hit was “Baby Come Back”. I will have to see if I still have that album somwhere. There are 9 Maier sibs, the age difference between the oldest (clare) and youngest (mike) is 18 yrs. So, it was rare that all 9 of us went on vacation together, as the older ones would have had college jobs, etc. But if we did, we took two cars, a boys car and a girls car, and would race on the way there and back. One time, they were winning, and one of my brothers had to throw up, we were only about 5 minutes from home. My dad told him to puke out the window, so they would still win. He did, and they beat us girls home. The guys whose lawn he puked on was outside mowing it at the time, priceless. You’d probably get sued if you tried something like that today!

  • Dorothy, that is an awesome story about the race and the vomit.

    Player – Got it. I know that song, but didn’t know the band. Good trivia.

  • Wow..
    I originally found your blog due to a posting on the atlanta metroblogs about the pagoda in Atlanta.

    I had since went on to find out it was the Wat Lao Buddha Phothisaram
    http://img258.imageshack.us/img258/261/templexu8.jpg

    Then I saw you lived in Fairport. I lived there to for a time, though I was a few grades older than you. Small world.

    Of course I may have followed the links incorrectly if so I apologize.

  • Penske – Totally small world! And thank you so much for posting the info about the pagoda! I was still wondering what it was. Did you go to Brooks Hill Elem?

    Interestingly, I have met three other people from there (one from Fairport, two from Pennfield – I think that is the name of the town) and Jasonaut, who has posted on here, is friends with a girl from. . .jason, is it Brighton? Very small world, anyway.

    Anyway, thanks for dropping in – don’t be a stranger.

  • No I went to Dudley/Northside though I did go to Minerva Deland which is less than a 1/4 mile from Brook’s Hill. I used to go Brook’s Hill and JP all the time on my bike; took swimming classes at Minerva in the summer.

    I went back this past year, I made sure to get some good TK’s pizza, a steak sub from Arrivederchi’s and to shop at Wegmans. Oh some abbot’s frozen custard along with a stop up at the LDR Char Pit in Charlotte.

    Glad I could help with the pagoda info.

  • Penske, I don’t remember anything really, except, GOOD GOD that TK’s pizza was good. The son of the owner was in my 3rd grade class, and he had pizza for lunch every day and we were all jealous. I used to love to go with my dad and pick up the pizzas. Also, Wegman’s – totally forgot about that. Good stuff – thanks for the memories.

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