Part 0: A Few Words for Days Gone By…

I decided to do something special for Part 250…by not doing Part 250 at all.

This isn’t one of those bullshit prequels, like when George Lucas says, “Oh, Episode I, I had that written for decades,” when it was pretty obvious he was making it up as he went along!  Nope, this isn’t like that.  I started writing the Record Store Tales over 10 years ago, and what you see below is the original first chapter.  It existed solely for the purpose of background and context, but I excised it in favour of starting things faster with the second chapter, “Run To The Hills”.  Since that became Part 1, it makes sense that this earlier introduction should be Part 0.  With hindight, I kind of wished I’d kept it in, so here it is!  And don’t forget to check out my new complete Table of Contents, should you wish to read  more!

KATHRYN GEOFF MIKEYeah…don’t ask. That’s me on the right.

A Few Words for Days Gone By…

What is childhood made of? In my mind, when you’re a kid, life consists of two things:

1. School
2. Summer Holidays

That was the cycle.  To break it down to the core, to an 11 year old life was 10 months of school followed by two months of glorious, warm sunny freedom.  Sure, you’d get to go home at the end of the day, but you were never truly free until the end of June. No more pencils, no more books, all that stuff.  It was way better than Christmas holidays.  The Canadian winters offered such fun treats as shoveling, besides snow pants, parka, boots (laced up too tight), and mittens which prevented you from using your fingers.

Our summers were boisterous. My sister Kathryn and I were like peas in a pod. We would play some kind of game every day, usually under my leadership. I would declare that today, we were going to play Star Wars. Other possible declarations included building fleets of Lego ships and cars, and having a giant war. Or inventing a new ball game.  Once GI Joe came along, we’d dig trenches in the yard, as well as forts and garages of twigs and leaves, and have an entire day (or week) dedicated to Cobra Commander’s new secret weapon. Aside from an occasional rebellion from my sister, our summers were mostly uninterrupted merriment.

STAR WARS

My sister and I both clearly remember one such rebellion, where she wanted to do things her way.  It involved our Star Wars figures.  We were already mid-battle.  I was setting up a perfect counter-offensive. The Millenium Falcon would sneak attack Vader’s base, take out his Tie Fighter early in the melee, while Luke would take out Boba Fett. Leia and Lando had to distract Jabba The Hutt, so that he couldn’t stop Luke when he eventually confronted the Emperor. Game over! The plan was perfect. Now I just needed my sister to coordinate the battle with me, under my command of course.

Much to my disappointment, she had moved around some of the figures and now had them seated.  Luke and Vader were next to each other. “Why are Luke and Vader sitting there? Luke is about to attack and Vader should be getting into his ship.”

My sister continued playing with the figures, and without looking up, replied, “Luke and Vader want to be friends now. They’re having tea.”

It didn’t matter that half the figures were hers, if she didn’t know how to play Star Wars right. So I’d yell a bit, act like a big brother usually does, and eventually she’d go along with the plan, or cry and leave.  The evil Empire would be defeated once and for all, thanks to my brilliant leadership and strategy.  We were definitely pals, growing up.

For years, this was the way of the summer holidays. We’d be doing something awesome at home, or at the cottage, but it would always be something cool. It didn’t matter where we were: games continued wherever we went.  We’d make a game out of anything.   You give us a pile of junk and we’ll make a game out of it.

STYX FRONTAll things do come to an end. The Star Wars trilogy ended in 1983 and something needed to fill the vacuum. While GI Joe and later Transformers would temporarily take its place, I was getting older.  My attention was drifting.  I was looking for something cool, new, and exciting.  Video games didn’t hold my attention and neither did sports.

Starting in 1983, several things happened in a short time frame.  Styx released a single called “Mr. Roboto” that some of my friends at school were obsessed with.   Then I heard a song called “Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap” by AC/DC, and it was pretty cool too.  Then, a newer band called Quiet Riot came out with an album called Metal Health that would go on to sell three million copies.  This was my first rock cassette purchase when I was in the 6th grade.  Something connected…

AC/DC.  Van Halen.  Ozzy Osbourne.  Black Sabbath.  Def Leppard.  Motley Crue.  Iron Maiden.  Who were these people? I had a lot to find out.

Continued in Record Store Tales Part 1:  Run to the Hills

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35 comments

        1. I hadn’t discovered Kiss yet, but we DID collect a full series of Empire Strikes Back cards. Boy that was hard. There were always one or two cards that nobody seemed to have. Then when somebody did have them, you’d have to pony up if you wanted to trade. But we got the full Empire set, and Indiana Jones too.

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        2. I became a KISS fan in 1978. I was only eight years old…but KISS was everywhere. I had the school notebooks, the KISS “Popsicles”, the bubblegum cards, the “action figures”, posters, and of course LPs…and whatever else I could convince my mother to buy!

          Did you watch the old Batman re-runs on TV, the Incredible Hulk, Knight Rider, Dukes of Hazzard, etc on TV?

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        3. Oh yes I absolutely wanted to be Michael Knight back then. Of those shows, the Hulk was definitely my favourite. I’m still convinced Lou Ferigno is the best Hulk ever, better than the CG Hulk they have today.

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    1. Coca Cola Countdown! I remember that! Do you recall Combat Des Clips?

      I still remember what band took down New Kids On the Block after something like 9 straight weeks on top. It was Led Zeppelin – Traveling Riverside Blues!

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      1. I certainly do remember Combat Des Clips! When I reviewed Pearl Jam, I included a strongly worded letter I wrote (on dot matrix paper!) to the show, expressing my 10-year old frustration at Jeremy’s video content.

        Actually, re-reading the post, at the time I thanked you & Rich for the Ted clip of Eddie Vedder imitations – it was early in my blogging days before I learned how to create hyperlinks, so my thanks again!
        http://1001albumsin10years.wordpress.com/2013/05/22/pearl-jam-ten-1991/

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        1. Before they make the sequel anyway. (And yes, that’s happening.)

          If you like MacFarlane, you’ll like Ted. People who find MacFarlane too gross and over the top would hate it.

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  1. Wow gramps, I was born in ’83. A tale like this for me would involve setting down the Ninja Turtles figures long enough to watch Soundgarden’s “Black Hole Sun.”
    But then picking up the Turtles figures again.

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    1. Gramps, lol! You’ll get here one day too my friend!

      I wonder how that experience differs for you though. You kind of came up during the grunge period, where I was the metal era before that.

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  2. Seeing the video for AC/DC ‘Stand Up’ in ’85, just reset my brain and tastes entirely, for ever and ever. It made me forget about AD&D for a full 45 minutes!

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      1. It was – I loved that video so much at the time. I still really love ‘Fly on the Wall’ but everyone has such a downer on that LP – could be a post…

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        1. I like it too actually, I think the production could have been better. Anybody care to tell me what the hell Brian Johnson is singing on the title track? I haven’t the foggiest clue.

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        2. Come on Mike! He clearly sings

          Lykkke a flahhh on d’wal …

          I love it because it was my ticket in, I heard ‘Stand Up’ and the whole of the next day it was ringing through my head. I’d never heard anything that powerful before. Seems funny now.

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  3. What a great read!! I love hearing these stories of early music discovery. I’m a bit older than you but my epiphany happened about the same age as yours. Mine was a Chuck Berry LP given to me by my mommy circa ’73. A couple years later came KISS Alive and my path was set…. I look forward to following you through the second 250, Mike!

    If interested, here’s a take on my own musical cherry popping: http://victimofthefury.com/2012/03/17/the-song-remains-the-same-30/

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