The Music Pulls Me Back

So I mentioned that I recently bought Brenda Russell’s album Get Here amongst sixty or so other records at the Friends of the Library Book Sale a couple weeks ago. I didn’t recognize the name, but as I was spinning the platter tonight for the first time, it yanked me back.

Her biggest hit, “Piano in the Dark”, comes from this album.

Suddenly, I am back in the computer room–a, what, spare room or bedroom except it had the stairs to the basement in it–in our house down the gravel road. It’s summer, and I’m monkeying around on the Commodore 128, typing programs in from magazines or playing disks’ worth of games we downloaded from BBSes before moving to a house in a valley a mile or so off the state highway where we had a party line. In 1988. The songs from those two and a half years are somehow more vivid than from other periods in my life.

Then I heard her sing “Get Here”, the title track from the album, and I thought, That’s not quite right.

Because I remember the Oleta Adams cover, which charted much higher, a couple years later.

Suddenly, I’m in college, noodling around either on the Commodore 64 I bought from the later Goth King of St. Louis to take to school or on the old 286 that that my stepmother’s mother bought for $2000 with an employee discount at Sears and I repaid over the course of six months at minimum wage. Probably playing it on the stereo I bought from Iron Maiden poster Dave for $20 My mom says I should charge more because it’s a good stereo, so give me $5 more for the speakers in the days where WKTI played songs like this one and “I Wanna Be Rich” over and over again.

Well, that was certainly worth the dollar I paid for it.

When I pulled up the YouTube video for “Piano in the Dark”, YouTube queued up Breathe’s “Hands to Heaven” and Glenn Frey’s “You Belong to the City” as things to play next. I already have both on CD already, on All That Jazz and the Miami Vice soundtrack. Because I was into 80s pop in the 80s, and I’ve only gotten into LPs and R&B records (and R&B influenced pop) in the 21st century. Or because I’m a racist/misogynist. Maybe both.

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