High School Soundtrack

Bruce Baugh discusses the music of his high school days and includes this bold challenge:

I daresay that few of you reading this know about Daniel Amos, a band of Southern California evangelical Christians.

To which I must respond with
Alarma! Somebody’s lying
Alarma! Somebody’s dying
Alarma! Somebody’s turning away, somebody’s turning away

Not only have I heard of Daniel Amos, I slipped them into the automation system at WREK. In high school before I had my anti-epiphany that led to a life of apostasy, I was a churchy boy. Daniel Amos was in the camp of Christian bands that were approved for blasting from boom boxes that also didn’t suck. There weren’t too many of these. The Resurrection Band, a group that sounded like AC/DC with Jesus in them, was the only other one that springs to mind. I still listen to my Alarma album now and then.

To do the same thing as Bruce, here are some of my picks from the high school era. It’s hard not to revise history and give yourself the stuff you wished you were cool enough to have been listening to back then like Television and Patti Smith. In truth, it was well into college before I discovered any of that (and things filter slowly into western Kansas anyway.)

Albums that Bruce cites that I also had in heavy rotation: Kansas, Point of No Return as well as Leftoverture and Audio Visions. Hey, we were in Kansas, you know. Fleetwood Mac, Rumours. Police, Ghost in the Machine and all ones earlier, me being partial to Outlandos D’Amour. Rush, Hemispheres and Permanent Waves but mostly Moving Pictures, mean mean pride that we had.

Bruce kind of dismissed Queen, but I was big into all of it. Mostly the albums of the time Flash Gordon, Hot Spaces, Jazz. In retrospect, I prefer the trilogy of Day at the Races, Night at the Opera, and News of the World most of all, but I listened to all of it I could get my hands on.

Wings, Venus and Mars. Until my later teens, I listened to this more than any individual Beatles album. Later, I became completely and totally a Beatles geek, but at the time I couldn’t get enough of “Rock Show”, “Spirits of Ancient Egypt”, and “Magneto and Titanium Man”.

Styx, Paradise Theater, Cornerstone, and Pieces of Eight. What else is there to say? Like many, I followed along until Kilroy Was Here which put me off their music forever.

Abba, you name it. I went to a show of the Suzie French Connection, mostly Atlanta band Gentle Readers with a few guests and playing all 70’s covers. Although I hadn’t heard it in years, I was able to sing almost ever word to “Waterloo” and moreover I had a great time singing it. I’m not dying to reclaim those times, but jumping around the basement singing “Mama Mia” kept many of us sane out on the prairie.

Michael Jackson, Thriller and Prince, 1999. This is when it all started getting funky. It took a long time for the white bread haven of Norton KS to negrify, but once the boogie arrived we got up and shook our honky asses.

ELO, New World Order, Out of the Blue and Discovery. I still get chills every time I hear the vaguely apocolypic “Do Ya”.

This is fun. There must be dozens of albums I missed. Once I moved to Georgia, my tastes definitely rappified towards Kurtis Blow, Ready For the World, Whodini, Fat Boys and Run DMC, but those were at the very end of high school and not quite as formative as the rest of this.

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Dave Slusher is a blogger, podcaster, computer programmer, author, science fiction fan and father. Member of the Podcast Hall of Fame class of 2022.

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