Birthday reflections on music, movies, and books

I turned 44 a few days ago. No, I’m not depressed. Not at all. In fact I feel great about it. But it does seem appropriate to reflect a bit about these things that I blog about. Since it’s my blog about my experiences with pop culture, then today seems a good time for a State of the Union type of thing. 

I am a proud child of the 1980s, and I love the music from that decade. (My friend Traci will have to comment on the 80s UK and European bands—not my wheelhouse). But I like the nostalgia when I hear American popular music from those years. That music. I can’t help it. That MTV logo used to mean something to me. So did Friday Night Videos and Night Tracks (Remember that one on TBS?).

Yeah I was mostly into the “pop” music of the times, before I discovered some outlaw country and blues and classic rock. But I spent many nights watching videos. I was watching when “Thriller” debuted on MTV. I watched ZZ and Van Halen and Billy Joel and Bruce Springsteen and so many more performers trot out their videos and singles and albums. I loved it.

My friend Jim, who knows more about music than everyone else I know combined, used to tell me that the Beatles and a few other bands “gave America our music back.” Took me a while to figure that out. So I find myself more and more listening to the blues. Love to hear some Buddy Guy, Stevie Ray Vaughn, and Gary Clark Jr. (Here’s a little something from Jimmie Vaughan and Gary Clark, Jr., in a tribute to Buddy Guy).

And I’ve drifted into classic rock, a lot of Led Zeppelin lately. And I love old-school country music from Haggard and especially Johnny Cash. Willie Nelson still has one of my favorite voices ever. So, here’s the fun: I have sort of found where all those musical roads intersect. Why the Beatles and Stones and Zeppelin point to Buddy Guy and Muddy Waters and Chuck Berry, etc. And at my age, I find all of those connections just so cool. And I look forward to learning more.

As far as movies now, I’m learning to appreciate movies like I appreciate a good book. I like the movies that are fearless. As an example, A Love Song for Bobby Long is a movie not many people saw, but watch it and you will see how blessed we are that movies like this manage to find their way in a world full of “tent poles.” The Way, Way Back is a recent small-movie discovery that I really like. And my Three Favorite Movies have budgets that, when combined, wouldn’t be enough to make half of a summer blockbuster. More on those movies at another time. They deserve entire posts each.

I now have to give a shout out to the money makers. I couldn’t wait until my kids were old enough to enjoy movies with me. They were raised on Ghostbusters and The Goonies. So I love Guardians and Jurassic and so forth. Hell I’m first in line when Ben Affleck makes his Batman debut. I marvel (pun intended) at a world full of web slingers and mutants and a Justice League because these are the movies I wanted to see as a kid, yet had to wait until 1989 to see Tim Burton’s Batman. It started the trend of Hollywood taking these movies more seriously. So those movies have a place in my heart and always will, mostly because my kids and I enjoy them together. Ok, that and I love super heroes. You got me.

So how can I talk about blockbusters without mentioning how giddy I am to see another Star Wars film that I believe from the trailers will far surpass my expectations? My adult self will take my two kids, but my six-year-old self will be there in full force (pun intended again I guess). When that score kicks in through louder-than-needed speakers, inside that dark theater, it will be 1977 again in my brain. But so what? That’s what these things are for, right? Right.

Books? I still love The Great Gatsby more than any other book, but I think my most moving experience ever reading a book was when I waded through A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving. Why? Because it’s a book about friendship and loyalty. It’s pure genius, seriously. And Wonder Boys by Michael Chabon? Has to be in my top five. Bonus for that one because I met Mr. Chabon once and he autographed my copy. And, I still find a Hemingway story a chore at times but I appreciate them because, hey, I’m an English major, ok? And every Christmas I have to read “A Christmas Memory” by Truman Capote. Think I’m a classics snob? Not at all. I still love a scary story from Stephen King. And, my current goal is to read all the Jack Reacher books I can find, by Lee Child. I can’t get enough of those. And my favorite “action” book ever has to be Pale Horse Coming by Stephen Hunter, but then again on some days I would say Hot Springs by Stephen Hunter. So I’m all over the place, but these writers keep me reaching for their work time and time again.

Oh yeah, between the watching, listening, and reading, I surf YouTube for old music videos, cartoons, commercials, wrestling, and scenes from old TV shows.

You mean you don’t do that?

So that’s me right now. Subject to change. And I’m ok with it all.

(Credit to YouTube for all video links).


3 thoughts on “Birthday reflections on music, movies, and books

  1. Traci

    Great read! I’ve been doing a lot of reflecting lately about the 80’s, as well. Just last week, when I chaperoned my son’s class bowling, I immediately thought of this nugget and gloriously you-tubed the video from 120 Minutes when it debuted in 1986.
    And I remember collecting the Star Wars bubble gum card packs in 1977 when the original came out– character cards on the front and the back was a piece of a larger puzzle, 11×17, maybe? No one I knew ever got the full puzzle built. But we sure chewed a lot of dusty bubble gum sheets trying!



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