For all of you following at home, I’m a day late with this post. I blame yesterday’s “bombogenesis,” “bomb cyclone,” “Winter Storm Grayson,” or whatever other term you’d apply to yesterday’s — let’s be honest — snow storm. I also blame the cabin fever and stir craziness of my 5.5 and 3-year olds who, after a long holiday break spent together, now can’t be in the same room with each other without yelling and wrestling and breaking things.
I’m kicking off 2018 with a look back to a song — truly, the song — that kicked off my adult relationship with music. And I say “adult” because, as a child and teenager coming of age in the early 90s, I didn’t have strong ties to the seminal bands or the exploding musical genres of that era: grunge and popularized punk, the golden era of hip-hop and artists who I listen to constantly now, etc. I’ve thought a lot about why; I don’t have any real answers.
And, it doesn’t much matter now because once I heard EWF’s “Getaway” for the first time in college (!), everything clicked. Memories of listening to Thriller on vinyl as a kid…of nearly wearing out a tape of Whitney Houston’s self-titled 1985 album…of my default bent toward R&B/soul music…of always being drawn to songs with tightly crafted melodies, great vocals, strong rhythms, and diverse instrumentation…of how much I listened to and absorbed music, even if I didn’t “follow” it.
Immediately, on my first listen, this track lit me up. The aggressive, propulsive, just nastily funky bass line; those horns!; Maurice White’s musical chops and Philip Bailey’s soaring falsetto in the chorus; the lyrics — universal sentiments of escape and self-determination, but, I believe, also with deep meaning speaking directly to African-Americans and the Black experience in the 1970s. You can’t help but move all — or at least parts — of your body to this track. And, you are at high risk of a speeding ticket if you listen to this while driving. So inspired was I that I wrote a damn academic thesis on funk music/1970s history.
So, with one eye on the past and another eye looking forward, here we go into the year in music in 2018: