There is a span of a year or so that extends from a few months before we moved here in 1986 to a few months after, when I got my driver’s license (which was a year later than all of my friends, thanks to an early entrance into first grade). The albums I bought during this period made their marks a little deeper with me. It was a lonely time, with more time to listen. Maybe the deeper marks are no more complicated than that. The first one I consider as part of this group is Van Halen’s 5150. Ozzy Osbourne’s The Ultimate Sin is in there, as is David Lee Roth’s Eat ‘Em and Smile. Probably the two that hit me hardest were Cinderella’s Night Songs and Bon Jovi’s Slippery When Wet.
Slippery When Wet was Bon Jovi’s breakthrough record. Today, except for “Runaway,” they tend to ignore anything they did before it when playing live. The next to last song on the album is a painfully slow, absurdly sappy ballad called “Never Say Goodbye.” It’s a reliable wince generator. I suspect affection for it even then was pretty indefensible unless you were a 16-year-old girl (or trying to talk one out of her Calvins).
So I was driving home one night last week and it came on the radio. I hadn’t heard it in probably 20 years. I reached down to find something else, but then said “why not?” I cranked it instead. Remembered all the words. It was fun. I even enjoyed that I was on Palmer Road when it came on, because Palmer runs through adjacent residential and industrial areas next to a railroad track just like Butler Street in Oxford does, and the lyrics for “Never Say Goodbye” mention a Butler Street.
I’ve been listening to heavy metal since hearing my dad’s record collection in the late ’80s and early ’90s (some of my earliest recollections are of Bon Jovi’s Slippery When Wet)…
Sheesh. That’s a punch in the stomach.
Fellow GenXers, remember growing up and watching Happy Days and Laverne & Shirley on ABC on Tuesday nights? Remember that depiction of the ’50s? The ’80s are longer ago now than the ’50s were then.