Cornfield Meet

Things collide here.

On the train to Desert Moon.

Twice a week, I pick my daughter up from gymnastics practice, along with one of her best friends, whom we drop off at her house on our way home for dinner.

These two have been best friends since preschool, and they’re now middle-school sixth-graders. (I’ve always thought it’s kind of neat that my kid is in the same schools I attended, while her friend is in the same neighboring school district that Aaron lived in when we were friends growing up.)

Lately, they’ve taken to singing that Jason Mraz song “I’m Yours.” It’s priceless, especially because they only sing about a minute and a half – after they’ve maxed out someone’s cell-phone recording capabilities, they giggle and stop and either watch it or record it again.

But I also hear my daughter listening to it at home. And to that Taylor Swift song about the fairytale ending or something. And to the Twilight soundtrack.

And it takes me back to a sort of sad, hidden time when you may have talked about girls, but God
knows if you were a glasses-wearing nerd like me you mostly didn’t talk to girls, and that meant songs that other kids slow-danced to at those after-school dances just made you go all moon-eyed and self-pitying when you were by yourself. Bryan Adams’ “Heaven” did this particularly well, even though it did wind up attached to a fleeting, glorious exception to the rule. Journey, “Faithfully.” Phil Collins, “Against All Odds.” You get the picture. Glorious cheese balladry that will always have a place on my throwback playlist.

For some reason, though, my daughter’s occasional taste for wistful music takes me back most specifically to Dennis DeYoung’s “Desert Moon.” (This actually came out in fall 1984, so I would’ve been 13 at the time, closing in on 14 and in eighth grade. That made me actually about a year and a half older than my daughter is now. I’m not sure if that’s comforting or not.)

Anyway, Desert Moon is vintage Dennis at his purest, with its piano and its pining and momentous-yet-all-too-brief passings in and out of life, and good God did that somehow hit home with a junior-high moony-eyed wannabe writer. I remember obsessively trying to catch it on the radio so I could record it onto one of the blank tapes I picked up in three-packs for a couple bucks at the Hartville Flea Market. When I succeeded, I listened to it over and over and over in my room on our family’s boom box. I think it was the first generation-specific song of its type that I really got caught up in.

I apparently didn’t hide this too well, because for my birthday that year, along with Huey Lewis and the News’ Sports on cassette, my parents surprised me with Desert Moon, even though I had never mentioned it at all. (Go ahead, mock the music. It was the ’80s and I hadn’t yet been introduced to New Order or the Pet Shop Boys. Those are for another time anyway.)

It was a bizarre bridge of an era, getting lost in these songs about love and forever and loss and heartache, and still being just a kid praying that nobody would find out who I liked and hoping not to get my ear flicked in study hall.

Seeing my own child entering those years is a heart-wrenching of a different sort.

I’m not entirely certain I’m ready for it. As Dennis sang, “Moments pass, and time moves on…”

January 19, 2009 - Posted by | 1980s, eighties, geek, Music, Ohio, writing

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