Great Moments In Rock:
by Darren Stewart
I discovered pop music when I was nine.
I wore a Bryan Adams, Reckless T-shirt to school four days
of five, Corey Hart, Boy in the Box, was my favourite album
and I knew the lyrics to hit Wham songs.
My uncle bought me Bruce Springteen's "Born in the USA," which
I played on family outings. My grandma called it "the noisy
REO Speedwagon, Can't Fight this Feeling
Dire Straights, Money for Nothing
Glen Frey, The Heat is on
Kenny Loggins, Footloose
And yes, Lionel Ritchie's "Hello."
It was 1985, an entirely different era, musically.
Anything played on the radio, the empty, the vacuous, the
brilliant, I loved it. These songs didn't speak to me. Their
metaphors may as well have been sung in foreign tongues, in
dialect in Swahili. But each song was a little precious stone
to me, candy-sweet and more revered than anything else in my
No rights of passages were fulfilled in these moments, no
truths were uncovered. This was innocent shit. A few years later
I hit that period when I dusted off dad's Led Zeppelin and Beatles
LPs. Later still, The Doors, Pink Floyd, The Stones, Bob Dylan,
My parents were strict. I was mandated to be in bed with lights
out and radio off before the Top Ten at Ten even started. Some
Friday nights I could listen to the Best Nine at Nine and I
would lounge luxuriously on my bed with my ghettoblaster, below
my "Be tough like me, Mr. T" poster, tuned and turned up.
But most nights I would have to be covert.
I could control, with precision, my clock radio, which I hid
with me below the covers, in the dark. I did not have station
presets so it took some practice. I knew a quarter turn this
way would bring me to a certain station. I didn't know what
the stations were called, but I had a good sense of what genre
I'd get with each quarter turn of the dial.
Sound quality was not an issue then.
I did not distinguish between AM and FM, Vancouver stations,
Bellingham, or Seattle.
For hours I would scan several stations, twiddling the tuning
dial in the dark. I would wait until a song I wanted came on
and then rush over and hit "record" on my ghettoblaster which
I found out, to my great delight, would record the radio at
a normal volume level, even with the volume turned all the way
down. I would fill countless tapes with collections of top-40
eighties songs that all start approximately 12 seconds into
the song. Sometimes I turned the knob into a station playing
the last verse of a desired song and I would capture its dying
chords on one of my crappy, overused, priceless cassettes.
Those tapes, remnants from the pre-digital age, must exist
somewhere, maybe at my parents house, maybe as contents of the
The quality of their contents would make a sound buff balk
in this day of digital clarity. Yet there is no resisting these
tapes, last half of a Madonna song here, a Tears for Fears song,
captured in mono, there. I have a diverse collection of CD's
and I have a hard drive full of MP3's. Sometimes, sitting at
my desk at work, a song slams into my head with the force of
a truck. I will watch the clock, waiting, needing to get home
to download it.
The songs aren't like those tapes I made and I listened to
over and over for years while I did my paper route. Songs captured
in a sweet moment, at random, when I flipped to a station, heard
the song, jumped down to my ghettoblaster and hit record.
was born to run.