When I was 13-years old, it was 1980 and I was a typical newly made teenager. I only wanted to eat fast food, I knew it all, I was more than willing to get into trouble for doing things I wasn’t supposed to, and I loved music. I had grown up listening to whatever my mother was into, as well as an older brother who loved music. Their tastes varied from each other’s so I got a good enough mix of stuff to really get a feel for what I liked and what I didn’t.
I didn’t dislike Disco though, and I did genuinely like Motown and Pop music. Basically whatever was the Billboard top 40 list. You know, the one Kasey Kasem would count down? Disco was dying and a different kind of rock music was taking over from what I would still call “rock-n-roll”. I didn’t have a real taste for heavy metal or even the “new rock” music, but I would happily listen to whatever was being played. Especially if I’d never heard it before. Given the choice, as in when I got my very own first real record player (with detached speakers!) and I had complete control over what I listened to, I listened to anything that made me feel good or want to sing along. My mother and brother gave me a few of their old albums and I got one new one. I loved The Beatles, Wings, The OJs, Pink Floyd and Queen. Of course, those were the only 5 albums I owned for a long time, but I loved them just the same.
Whenever I got some money I found that albums were basically out of my price range, but 45s were very affordable. I used to buy whatever I found enjoyable. I honestly had no idea that I could be judged or categorized as a person by my taste in music. I only knew what sounded good to me, what moved me.
It’s so funny when I think about it, I had no idea that a person’s taste in music was often the basis of what friendships were founded on, what group you hung out with and how you identified yourself to the world. In 1980 disco was dying but not dead. Van Halen was California’s sweetheart and electronic music wasn’t born yet, but it was about to take over more than it’s fair share of the music scene.
I tended to identify the most with the “stoners” and the “bad kids” who were all listening to heavy metal and rock music while mocking anyone who didn’t. The thing is, I didn’t care for heavy metal. I didn’t understand what it meant to them. It was unpleasant, loud and obnoxious and it definitely did not make me want to dance or sing along. I secretly listen to my top 40, oldies and Motown favorites while publicly professing my love of Iron maiden, Judas Priest, and Ozzy. None of which I actually liked. My friends listen to them and similar stuff almost exclusively. Except Kool & the Gang, it was ok to like them for some strange reason.
As the years passed, I found friends I liked who either liked the same music I did or at least didn’t make fun of me for it. I refused to be persecuted for my taste in music and listened to anything I liked as loud as I liked whenever I liked and if anyone made fun of me or insulted me I could generally get them to admit to liking something that other’s would make fun of them for… if they wouldn’t, I’d punch them the face.