Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Something With Twenty: Twenty Years Ago

Magazine: Twenty Years Ago

I’m pretty sure that I first started paying attention to the band Magazine in 1981, when their live album Play was released in the US (It was released in the UK in 1980, which would make it 2x twenty years ago....). I have to assume that we had their earlier albums in the WPRB library, and for all I know, I played them, but Play is the first album of theirs that I remember.

What made me take notice of them was the keyboard part in the recording of the song “Definitive Gaze,” because it sounded like it could have come from any number of prog rock albums, although the band’s vocal, and general sound, were more punk than prog. Understand, that in 1981, we were still in the relatively early days of punk, or maybe more accurately at that point, new wave, and the whole basis of that movement seemed designed to sweep away the excesses of the prog and classic rock world. Nowadays, that seems kind of quaint, in an era of genre mixing, where Elvis Costello could win a Grammy for Best Traditional Pop Vocal, of all things,  but back then it seemed revolutionary.

It took me a little while to figure out that Howard Devoto, the leader and singer of Magazine had been in The Buzzcocks, a band that I discovered after he had left, and which was at that point still pretty punk, and I think that part of the reason that Devoto left was to explore a broader musical palette. Magazine was one of those bands whose popularity and influence in England was much greater than in the U.S., and they broke up in 1981, so I have to admit to losing track of them after I graduated from college, missing their reunion(s) entirely.

Another song on Play, which was originally the b-side of a single (“A Song From Under the Floorboards,” a great song, was the a-side), was “Twenty Years Ago,” which is how we, ultimately, get to our theme. It’s a good song, if not my favorite from the band, but we write to the theme here.

But it did give me the excuse to think about where I was in my life twenty years ago, in 2000, which turned out to be a pretty momentous year for me. I started the year being miserable working at a law firm, and ended it much happier working in-house at a large financial services company. My supervisor was, without a doubt, the best boss that I ever worked for, my work was interesting, and I had colleagues who were, for the most part, smart and pleasant, and I remain in contact with many of them to this day. In fact, my four years there were, overall, the best time that I ever had as a lawyer—I got some great experience, was treated as a professional, was paid reasonably well, and did enough travel to make it interesting but not burdensome.

Sadly, the company sold the business that I worked for to a competitor, and eventually, my job was going to disappear. Which led to a return to a law firm where I was less happy, and ultimately to my life as a solo practitioner.

Lots more happened during the last 20 years, some of it good—like my kids graduating from high school and college and moving on with their lives, my son getting married, and beginning my blogging hobby---and some bad—like the death of my father and father-in-law, 9/11, and Trump.

Looking back makes you realize that it is really impossible to predict the course of one’s life. I’m sure that if you asked me back in 2000 what my life, or the life of my family, would be like—or what the country or world would be like, my guesses would have been terribly wrong, except in the broadest strokes (I’m pretty sure that I would have predicted that I would still be a lawyer and still married to the love of my life, for example). And it makes me wonder where I’ll be in 2040—if I’m still kicking in my late 70’s.

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