Tuesday Tune Two-Fer: Bitchin’ Mix Tape ’83

Two tangentially-related tunes from my troubled teens

It’s time to flip that “Metal” switch on your Walkman, because these two tunes are prompted by the question “what was the first album you ever bought with your own money?”

Mine was in 1983, and it was “Goody Two Shoes” by Adam Ant. Or I guess technically it was Friend or Foe, but I had no interest in the rest of the album and just wanted that one song. I walked into the local Turtles and asked for the cassingle, only to be told by the store clerk that they didn’t have it, and I’d have to buy the whole album. So not only was it the first album I bought with my own money, but the first step in a decades-long career of being sneered at by record store clerks.

I don’t mean any offense to Mr Ant, but even as an extremely impressionable young gay lad, I wasn’t that taken with his whole persona, and I just thought he wore too much make-up. (Of course, I did like his Honda ad with Grace Jones, though). It would probably make for a better memoir if I could trace everything back to that one pivotal record purchase, but I was just listening to whatever was popular. And my phase of listening to Duran Duran, Culture Club, Human League, etc. was short-lived, because of…

Pyromania by Def Leppard. I bought this album, as did every other 12-year-old boy in America, and I felt that I had somehow leveled up. It was time to put away childish things and graduate to the section of the music store categorized as “Hard Rock.” It was my gateway album, luring me into the dangerous world of bands like Van Halen, with its dark themes like being in high school and horny for your teacher; and Led Zeppelin, with its dark and occult-tinged songs about Hobbits.

I was especially proud of my refined tastes, because while everyone else was listening to “Rock of Ages,” I, an aesthete, understood that “Photograph” was by far the best song from the album. I can still remember my mom asking me what I was listening to, and I very seriously warned her that she might not like it because it had “very hard guitars.” (She listened to a bit and nodded and said “that’s nice.”)

The thing is: while so much of 1983 is undeniably silly, “Photograph” is still a fantastic song, even in the 21st century.