Play That Funky Music

What was your favourite hit from the 1980s?

What was your favourite hit from the 1980s?

Funny how certain things can trigger memories. A particular perfume reminds you of a college sweetheart. A black and white photo makes you reminisce about family holidays when you were young. A wafting aroma results in hunger pangs for your grandma’s cooking…

I met up with an old school friend the other night. (Thanks, Ro!). She posted a photo of us on Facebook, tagging other uni friends who are now in different corners of the globe. ‘How about a reunion for our (fast-approaching – gulp!) 40th birthdays,’ she suggested. The next thing I knew, one of the guys had posted a YouTube video of Will Smith (when he was The Fresh Prince, remember that?) singing ‘Boom, Shake the Room’. In a flash, I was time travelling to my teens in the 1990s. Groan!

Music is so different these days. I’m not talking about the lyrics (or lack of them) – I’m talking about how we listen to music. My kids have grown up with Spotify and iTunes. But they have no inkling of mix tapes, Walkmans and misheard lyrics (mondegreens). So allow me to turn back time and press Rewind…

The changing face of music (image sourced from the internet)

The changing face of music (image sourced from the internet)

Records

My earliest memories of music were of my dad’s record player and his collection of LPs (long play): albums by The Beatles and The Stones rubbing shoulders (sleeves) with The Doors and CCR. As the long arm of the needle came down to rest on the black vinyl record, we heard the clicks and ‘crackle’ as it spun on the turntable before the first song filled our house. Unfortunately, the record player and records was sold off to the jari puranawalla (junk buyer) when cassette players became all the rage in the 1980s.

Cassette tapes

In the 1980s, my mum’s brothers worked in the Gulf for American companies. When they flew back to Bombay each Christmas, my cousins and I coveted their Billboard Top 40 cassettes even more than the KitKat chocolates they gave us. The latest hits were blasted on their new Bose stereo system – loud enough for the entire street to hear the doof-doof. And when Side A came to an end, the cassette tape was flipped over to Side B.

Cassette tapes galore! (image sourced from the internet)

Cassette tapes galore! (image sourced from the internet)

If you wanted to record the Top of the Pops, you needed a double tape deck: one for the original and one for your blank tape. And you had to make sure you pressed down the Play and Record buttons simultaneously – and even then, you heard the tell-tale ‘click’. These were the days when ‘copyright’ was just a meaningless © symbol.

The horror! (image sourced from the internet)

The horror! (image sourced from the internet)

Once recorded, these tapes were paused, fast forwarded and rewound ad infinitum (with our ears pressed to the speakers) until we learnt the lyrics to every song far better than we memorised our Hindi poems for school exams. Once these songs became passé, we reused them to record the latest hits over them.

And then our worst nightmare would unfold before our eyes – the cassette would unravel in a tangle of dark brown tape, spilling its guts out in protest. All attempts to wind its entrails back inside with a pencil would prove futile. A problem that was even harder to solve than those popular Rubik’s cubes.

Radio

All we need is radio ga-ga! (image sourced from the internet)

All we need is radio ga-ga! (image sourced from the internet)

And who can forget listening to Saturday Date? This was the only English music program on All India Radio. So come 9pm and every Catholic in Bombay would tune in to this music request show where Bonnie from Byculla could dedicate ‘Nothing’s Gonna Change My Love For You’ to his girlfriend Sandra from Bandra, or Tony from Dhobitalao could request ‘We Will Rock You’ for his pals in Pali village. My ears perked up whenever my favourite ‘Funky Town’ was played, but a golden oldie like ‘Smoke Gets In Your Eyes’ was enough to send me to slumberland.

So tell me, what sort of music did your family listen to when you were growing up? Do you still have any old LPs or cassette tapes?
What was the first album you ever bought? Did you have a favourite song as a child?

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11 responses to “Play That Funky Music

    • Lorraine, you brought back embarrassing memories of me sitting in front of a giant speaker in my hall, trying to figure out the words to ‘One of Us is crying One of us is lying…’ and ‘Knowing Me, Knowing You’. Hahaha!

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  1. Al this is so true!! We can all relate to this…great blog! It is truly amazing that we get to see so much change in music such a short time!
    As you know my family always listened to loud dance music, but sometimes a bit of reggae & love songs! And a lot of these are still my favourites. ..esp Michael Jackson, Tina Turner & Madonna! Classics! I specifically remember my dad playing “Take On Me” on a Saturday morning (also still a big fav of mine).
    Unfortunately i don’t have any of my old cassettes (wish I kept to show my kids lol) but my first cassette album was Bananarama & Tiffany! And one of my fondest childhood memories was choreographing a dance withy sis to Locomotion by Kylie Minogue 🙂

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  2. Hi Al, loud music was in our house right from the 1960’s when we had the mono Philips Record player which was replaced in 1973 by U. Ossie’s Akai Cassette Stereo Player which looked like a space station Console. Then U. Flavian bought his Sansui Stereo in 1978. In 1985 I put the icing on the cake with my 125Watts Bose Speakers. At the time nobody had even heard of Bose. We really rocked the street with our loud music.
    U. Arnold

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  3. Haha Ally this was a great read! You have such a good memory of the finest details (eg having to press play & record simultaneously to record music). add me laugh!! And after the Walkman came the Discman! I remember thinking how advanced that technology was back then lol

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Hey..lets not forget good ole Cliff Richard and the Shadows dad would play every weekend. What about James Last and his band…yup they were more the 70’s but it was such good music.
    Back to the late 80s and we had Madonna, MJ, Lionel Ritchie. But my all time fav was Tina Turner- whats love got to do with it.
    Al, remember Neil & I used to dance like her and Wenzil used to toss Nans Tootsie’s hair when this song played!
    What fun days they were!!..no computers and smartphones…I miss the 80’s or as I call them..The “black & white days”..truely the best years of my life!!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Jase, laughing so hard about that comment on Wen tossing up Nana Tootsie’s hair like Tina Turner that I almost choked on my brekkie. Only to be reprimanded by C&C that we do not allow any devices at the breakfast table. Oops!

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