Sunday, January 27, 2008

Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis -The Soundtrack of My Childhood

I've always loved them. I just didn't know, til recently, just how much.

See, I have this weird way of remembering things. The only truly important happenings in my life are always accompanied by music. If there is no song attached to you, I will not remember you, despite the amount or intensity of time we've spent together. I remember absolutely nothing before the age of six. I can't tell you anything about the schools I went to, or about the majority of people I went to school with. People stop me on the street and I have to struggle to figure out if I've ever laid eyes on them.

On the other weird hand, there are people I've met for a split second but because there was a certain song playing they will forever be embedded in my mind. Likewise, there are ridiculously minuscule moments that have no bearing on truly major developments in my life or personality, but I recall them with absolute fondness because there was music playing.

Case in point:

A long time ago, back when there were still Woolworth's stores downtown, my mommy and I went downtown to shop. I vividly remember eating a BBQ chicken dinner (baked not fried) at the counter and haggling with some forty-ish white women over my change (a difference of 11 cents). Further, I remember going downstairs to browse the irregular underwear. Did anything particularly amazing happen that day? No. But what was important was the fact that Alexander O'Neal (in all his conked and cuddly glory) was wailing away in my headphones. (I had the fly Walkman, one of those joints that automatically flipped the tape to the other side --BALLIN'!!!!) By the way, "All True Man" was playing.

The summer before senior year (or maybe the summer after senior year, who knows), I had this boyfriend, this "manor" boy (and I had sworn that I would never date a manor boy, but there it was). Everyday, he came over with his little sister who would go outside and play with my little brother; and we would make out like crazy on various surfaces of the house. I cannot and will not ever recall his name, or his face, how he sounded or what he was like. For an entire summer, I risked catching mononucleosis from this guy and wouldn't recognize him if he tripped over me. Conversely, I can tell you everything you'd ever want to know about some guy who I never ever had physical contact with simply because he always had a copy of Do You Want More?!!!??! playing in his Walkman. Strange, I know.

So, yes. I have quite the musical memory and very little else. What does this have to do with Jimmy and Terry? Everything. My childhood is filled with memories that they are directly responsible for. Other than the many Alex O'Neal memories, there are ones coupled with the S.O.S. band, Cherrelle, Janet Jackson, and random others. These are the songs I recall dancing around in my room to. (There are tapes, but they will never see the light of day.)

Last week, I decided to download Alex's first album since I had the vinyl but no CD. I had kinda played Hearsay to death and needed some "new" material. Dude! I had forgotten how excellent and ubiquitous this album was. Immediately I was transported back to the times I'd sit clutching my small silver radio in my mother's room, watching the neighborhood kids play outside and shit while she took a nap. I wasn't allowed outside to play so I was always in some room or another listening to WBMX and jamming. Bittersweet memories I guess, but my isolation made me who I am today, a cantankerous hermit with very little patience for people and GREAT TASTE IN MUSIC! Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis were responsible for those hits and remembering those days next to my mom's window, I was moved to research just how much of my early life they had colored. Turns out they were almost single handedly responsible for my life from 8 through 13, so I thought I'd pay my respects here, in the blogoverse, my own special way of saying Jimmy Jam, Terry Lewis, you are appreciated.

Today, I bring you the greatest hits of Alexander O'Neal, a man with whom I will always be in love. His peanut buttery vocals and sharkskin suits will forever be tied to my awkward and lonely adolescence. He should've been bigger, but life is life. Either way, thank you, Alex.


"What's Missing"


"A Broken Heart Can Mend"


"What Can I Say (To Make You Love Me)"

"Never Knew Love Like This" (With the fabulous Cherrelle)




"All True Man"


Monica said...

this is why your blog is my favorite

RASOL said...

It is funny how you can remember what you were listening to at particular moments in life. (By the way, even as a Southern Illinoisan and a former Quad Cities resident, I remember those Woolworth stores downtown. My mom and I used to go there, never looked for stuff in the basement though.) But I remember being outside a small town Japanese train station at night, listening to "Sentimental/Thing Called Love"(you know the songs are perfectly next to each other) and wondering about leaving the country and next phase of life. I lean against a steel post, waiting for the train home after a long weekend in Tokyo. It was mad pensive, melancholy, beautiful...
...back to researching. (thanks for the trip down memory lane, though.) (read my stuff sometimes, even if I haven't posted since last year)

fuzzylogic said...

Came across your blog searchin' for fans of Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis. Great stuff! "What's missin" still makes me melt...whatever happened to Alexander O'Neal anyway? Great blog and thanks for the tunes!