It had to be somewhere around January 1985.
I’m not 100% sure but I know I didn’t have my drivers license yet. That’s how I track old memories, “Did I drive there or not?” It’s rudimentary but it works good enough for this story.
I was with a friend of mine and his older brother was going back to college for spring semester. We were all like, “You should take us! We will show you how to party! Beer! Girls!” and other typical 15 year old boy thoughts. The older brother, laughed and said maybe next time. He then threw a mixtape at me. “It’s not my kind of stuff but it’s all over the place on campus. Study up so you can seem cool.” I don’t know if he was kidding or not. But I took it seriously then. It made sense! Be cool and know the music. Cool College Music…. The forbidden fruit!
I remember looking at that Memorex DB series 90. The untold treasures and wisdom that would flow through my boom box would surely make me cooler AND irritate my parents. I couldn’t wait! I raced home and cranked that sucker UP!!
Awesome. Cool. Hmmmm…. What is that?
So the bulk of the 90 minutes was the New Wave of the day. Some Adam Ant, Devo, I specifically remember B-52’s Rock Lobster, Bauhaus and the like.
These days, I love that stuff. Then, it took me me a while to dig in to it. There was one song though… It grabbed me. Like, a lot. There was one problem… The DAMN tape ran out before the song got going. All I had was about 20 seconds of drums and guitar. A little vocal vamp then… nothing. Then, a loud clack of the auto-flip feature in the boombox then Depeche Mode apparently Just Can’t Get Enough.
For years I tried to figure it out, to no avail. Back then, in those days, finding music wasn’t easy. Your music library consisted of a mix of “What your parents listened to,” local radio and peer group recommendation. None of those were Euro New Wave, I can assure you of that.
Time passed it’s fall 1988 and I was in college. The mystery long faded. I was at a house party drinking adult beer (Blatz from a bottle) and smoking clove cigarettes. It was a “Thing” don’t ask. Then from the kitchen boombox… I hear it! The song!!! I remember suddenly standing up walking in the kitchen, sitting on the counter (all the chairs were in the living room for clove smoking, duh) and listening. Drinking it all in.
In walks a fellow clove smoker and he says “ I love old U2, don’t you?”
My unicorn song was Sunday Bloody Sunday.
In 1988, I certainly knew who U2 was. At that point Joshua Tree had crossed over to mainstream and was a MASSIVE record. But I didn’t know their back catalog. I didn’t know. Looking back, I can’t imagine I didn’t know. But… I just didn’t.
What that song represented was stepping away from all the music I was immersed in and finding something that spoke to me. I have recently created a playlist called 89-93 it is just all the songs I loved in college. Many of these songs never made it out of the College Radio Format so they just faded away.
For the next several weeks I will be sharing the playlist and the bands that were the soundtrack to my college years. I will be keeping a companion Spotify playlist, so please listen along.
You have always been my favorite,