You're the transmitter
Someone always wanders into your life and changes everything. When it's for the better, we should thank them.
My friend Greg expanded my whole musical outlook. We were teenagers in a remote, conservative area circa 1980. Greg was a mischievous lunatic who would do anything without any qualms.
While I was recoiling from the slick corporate music scene into The Beatles and counterculture politics, Greg was the first to embrace Punk and New Wave. This seemed at odds, but Greg exposed to me to a range of new stuff that was advancing off of what I already loved.
Stephen, David, me, and Greg (in mock-Bowie-mannequin pose).
These were the real Indie years.
You could only see Rock acts on late night shows, sometimes. Magazines were few and cost too much. I taught myself the history reading back issues of Rolling Stone for free at the library. Verrry few Punk and New Wave acts were carried by major labels, and were promoted haphazardly at best. No college radio shows yet, no clubs, no tour circuit, no video channels, and almost no press, just obscure ads in fanzines and word of mouth. Bands were putting out indie records, but you had to mail-order them on pure faith, an impossible expense for most teenagers. Where I was, in the rural outskirts, everyone was still trying to process or erase the '60s, and this new '80s futurism stuff just seemed like evil alien shadows on the far horizon.
That's why Greg loved it. He went to all the little record stores and somehow ordered all of these. The few majors and many of the minor labels. He was ahead of the curve on everything. Whatever tore open the envelope, that's what he had to do.
The Clash. The Cars. The B-52's. Elvis Costello. Split Enz. Plastics. Gary Numan. Gang Of Four. The Jam. Talking Heads. Punk and New Wave and PostPunk and Psychobilly and Coldwave and Power Pop. Usually before they had been labeled.
We watched the new acts on maverick TV like "Saturday Night Live", the stellar "SCTV" from Canada, or most often on "Fridays", the L.A.-based competition. When Split Enz performed "I Got You" on "Fridays", it was the exact moment where my ambivalence faded and I was converted entirely to the new breed.
Sadly, my friend has passed on. To honor him on what would have been his birthday, this is a music playlist of all the wonderful music that Greg expanded my life with. When I hear these songs, Greg is eternal and as fearless as ever.
Thank you, my friend, for enriching our lives.
I wanna bite that hand so badly
And the radio is in the hands of such a lot of fools
Tryin' to anaesthetise the way that you feel"
that we'd never close again"
I hear what you're playing"
I'm in love with the coming race
I've got the best, I'll take all I can get
I'm living for the Eighties"
© Tym Stevens
-The Real History of Rock and Soul!: A Music Player Checklist