Friday, August 24, 2012

1979: It seems so long ago

There are some songs from my youth that I hear so often they no longer register.

The Human League's Don't You Want Me (or Don't You Want Me Baby as everyone insists on calling it these days) is one such song. It does bring back memories of pre-Christmas 1981, with a vague recollection of WHSmith's record dept and mum doing the most decent she'd ever done at that point and marched me into Top Man and told me to choose some clothes and she'd come along later and pay for them (I recall some burgundy Sta-prest trousers and a Charlie Brown cardigan). But I've heard it countless times over the years and it's sort of lost its impact, and I really don't care if I never hear it again.

Another song in this vein is Video Killed The Radio Star. You hear it everywhere still, and it's the track that'll never die. But that's not to say I don't like it. I love it. I love it much more than I'll ever love Don't You Want Me. With that one I just groan when it comes on and move on, but with this one a small part of me always remembers what a breath of fresh air it was when it first arrived. I'd never heard anything like it. No wonder it was such a smash. It was the beginning of something new in music, something I was going to fully embrace from thereon in.

But there's no amazing memory attached. It reminds me of winter, break times spent inside, but most of all it reminds me of being in our semi-darkened kitchen, lit only by the under-cupboard lighting, and I'm in there making my sandwiches for school the next day: Peanut butter (every day) and picking a Cup-a-Soup, probably the watery chicken & leek one with the old woman on the front of the box which was my favourite. In the next room, the rest of family is watching something on the telly. But all is calm.

The song is dark in tone, what with lying in bed and tuning into the radio, something I did every night, one earpiece in listening to Radio Luxembourg. So while this song has sort of become wallpaper, it's the one in that category I don't ever mind hearing again and again.

And that's that.


  1. Such a familiar song that I have to erase all the times I've heard it since and try and remind myself just how different it sounded when it first came out. I didn't like it (!) but nobody could deny that it was something new and fresh, as you say. Oh and pre-fame, Trevor Horn used to hang out sometimes at the little gig venue/bar in my small Herts hometown. We had a thriving local punk scene down there - and I have it on good authority that he once asked one of the local punk bands if he could join them. To which the answer was, "No, you're too old and your hair's too long..." !

  2. Trevor Horn I discovered a few years ago actually went to my school. But of course it would have been years before me. He must have got his inspiration lying awake at night in boarding school rooms.