November 6, 2010


While shopping in a department store, I heard the first beats of a familiar song I had known well in the 1980s. For most of us, songs of a particular artist or group stir within us memories of our first floundering steps into adulthood, and for me I was reminded of my first year after leaving home, and struggling hard to survive as a college student on my pitiful income.

For an instant, I was transported back to the feelings I had back then, as Sheena Easton's "9 to 5 (Morning Train)" aired over the department store speakers. At one time I had known the words to this particular song by heart, and fortunately for the other customers within earshot, I restrained myself from belting out "My baby takes the morning train, he works from nine till five and then..."

In my younger days, while many of my friends wanted to look like Madonna or Boy George, I might have been one of those trendy young things who was slightly tempted to copy Sheena's make-up and hair.

Possibly one of the most difficult things about the songs which mark our 'heyday' is that sense of nostalgia that hits you out of the blue – an almost melancholy ache for a more innocent time, when the world seemed full of possibilities and hope. A sad thing is that anyone 20 years younger than us, will automatically relegate us to the 'old fogey' category simply by these particular songs.
I can remember being aghast at the astonishingly embarrassing songs that my parents knew back in their 'heyday', like "Stupid Cupid", "Calendar Girl" or "Purple People Eater."

As an adult, I sometimes feel like slapping myself around the head, when occasionally I hear myself say things like "When I was younger…" I curb my natural instinct to point out how terrible some of today's songs are, because I realise that each generation has said the same thing about the songs of the following youth.

The reality is that every generation has great songs along with some really pathetic tunes. Next time an older person tells you that the songs of today are all bad, tell them that some of the songs of yesteryear stunk worse than horse puckey, for example "Oh! How she could yacki, hacki, wicki, wacki, woo” and “Yaacka hula hickey dula". These two lovely melodies date back to 1915 and 1916. Then there was the equally enthralling tune titled "I’m looking for a guy who plays alto and baritone and doubles on a clarinet and wears a size thirty-seven suit," which came out in 1941.

As I strode through the department store that morning, enjoying Sheena Easton's "9 to 5 (Morning Train)", suddenly the song was interrupted by a staff member calling out over the microphone "Sheena, can you come to the Service Desk – Sheena." Startled when the song resumed, I almost expected Sheena Easton to stop mid-song and reply "Yeah, what do you want, Dazza?"

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