May 2, 2023

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Thirteen year-old Colleen. It is 1984. My hair is feathered. I’m wearing pink eye shadow and nail polish, while our cute kitten, Mitzi, uses me as her personal jungle gym.

In My Room, junior year. Sorry, Beach Boys. How about those bangs? I was a major consumer of Suave hairspray and all things James Dean. Please note the cool hi-fi, secondhand and bought with my own money. I could crank it, peeps.

Mid-way through senior year, I ditched the bangs, a la Belinda Carlisle. It was a major compliment when I first met my friend Barry (are you there?), and he told me I looked like her. I love that these are still my signature colors. Tried and true.

And now, for the real reason we are here. Sometimes, even an enjoyable task, like reminiscing about favorite songs from your formative years, can feel incredibly daunting. Where to begin? What do I include? What don’t I include? It is so big and so important. Seriously. Music, and particularly from this era, has been such a part of my identity. I took my first steps toward adulthood with these notes in my ears, often with friends, but mostly on my own, in the solace of my bedroom, and later, the sacred space of my 1981 Toyota Celica, the very first place I could be truly alone. Nothing here belongs to another, in that joining the crowd to “fit in” fashion. Each was chosen intentionally, specifically, for my own joy or sorrow, singing at top of voice, often while dancing.

With a handful of exceptions, I owned, mostly on tape, each of these bits of wonder, alphabetized (of course!) in my bedroom, and later, rotating a dozen or so in a nifty zippered case behind the passenger seat of my car. What great companions they were!

I thought about breaking this up into several parts, but decided against it, in that teenager popping cassette after cassette into the player on some warm day, with nothing better to do. I hope you enjoy…

Journey – Faithfully. For Mike. I have never forgotten.

Van Halen – Jump

The Church – No Explanation

The Damned – Alone Again Or

Motley Crue – Shout at the Devil I knew ALL the words. Yes, ma’am.

Killing Joke – Love like Blood

The Stone Roses – I Wanna Be Adored

The Smiths – How Soon is Now?

New Order – Thieves Like Us

Bronski Beat – Smalltown Boy

Madonna – Borderline

Whitney Houston – The Greatest Love of All Oh, Whitney! Voice of an angel. This is my absolute favorite song of hers. Get this playing, and you’ll see me bawl like a wee babe, I gua-ran-tee it.

Janet Jackson – When I Think of You

Billy Idol – Eyes Without a Face

Billy Squier – In the Dark

The Cult – She Sells Sanctuary

Talk Talk – It’s My Life

Depeche Mode – Just Can’t Get Enough

Bauhaus – Bela Lugosi is Dead

INXS – Don’t Change

The Cure – Close to Me

Echo and the Bunnymen – Lips Like Sugar

Beastie Boys – Hold it Now, Hit It

The Sugarcubes – Birthday

Psychic TV – Wicked

Psychedelic Furs – The Ghost in You

The Clash – The Magnificent Seven

Elvis Costello – Pump it Up

Simple Minds – Sanctify Yourself

The The – This is the Day

Eric B. and Rakim – I Ain’t No Joke

Peter Gabriel – San Jacinto, the very best version from Peter Gabriel Plays Live, with, quite possibly the most fabulous make-up on an album cover, ever. Stunning. When Greg and I started dating, and I found this album among his collection, I took it as a sign from on high. We like the same music!!

Violent Femmes – Blister in the Sun

Frankie Goes to Hollywood – Two Tribes

U2 – Bad

Big Audio Dynamite – Rush

Pet Shop Boys – Love Comes Quickly

Information Society – What’s on Your Mind

‘Til Tuesday – Voices Carry

Public Image Limited – Rise

LL Cool J – I’m Bad

Stevie Nicks & Tom Petty – Stop Dragging My Heart Around

Nine inch Nails – Down in It

Steve Winwood – While You See a Chance

The English Beat – Save it for Later

Public Enemy – Don’t Believe the Hype

Talking Heads – Girlfriend is Better

Robert Plant – In the Mood This was the first album I bought with my own money. Thirteen years old, I walked the twenty minutes from my house to Sweet’s Records and Tapes at 80th & Wadsworth and proudly put my cash on the counter. It was a stellar moment of independence and freedom.

General Public – Tenderness

The GoGo’s – Head Over Heels

Too Short – Life Is… Thank you, Bub.

After the Fire – Der Komissar

Golden Earring – Twilight Zone

The Kinks – Come Dancing

Prince – Baby, I’m a Star. Dance, dance, dance…

Genesis – Abacab

Big Country – In a Big Country

New Edition – Cool it Now Ronny, Bobby, Ricky, and Mike…

Modern English – I Melt With You

Loverboy – Turn Me Loose My concert going ways started with Loverboy. Thanks to my Uncle Chris for taking me to Big Mac all those years ago!

Eurythmics – Love is a Stranger

Eddie Murphy – Party All the Time. Uh-huh, you got that right.

Robert Palmer – You are in My System

Soul II Soul – Jazzie’s Groove

Kate Bush – Reaching Out

The Pretenders – Middle of the Road