Every once in a while, it’s nice to let one’s head cool a bit and reflect on something fun and awesome. I had the opportunity to do this a few days ago when I downloaded an album I found in iTunes. The album was Bon Jovi’s “Slippery When Wet,” and the fond memories those songs brought out of my subconscious were worth the low, low price I paid to buy the album. Believe it or not, I first heard of this album while watching a 1987 comedy flic called “SpaceBalls.” The movie featured one of the album’s songs in the first ten minutes of the movie and I was hooked. Let’s take a trip down this old man’s memory lane, shall we?
It was the early 1990’s. I had just sat down with my father on a quiet evening to watch a movie he had rented. That’s right, kids! Back then, you had to pay money to borrow a movie for the night like some sort of beggar. Scrolling through a streaming service wouldn’t be a thing for almost twenty years. I wasn’t much of one for comedy back then, but he assured me it had a science fiction vibe similar to Star Wars. I was reeled in. Although he wasn’t wrong, the shitty effects and poor story line had me yawning within the first few minutes. And then it happened: the scene showing the protagonist’s spaceship with his trusty sidekick rocking out to “Raise Your Hands” came into view. I couldn’t help but be immediately taken by the sound and solid riffs of the song.
I was already aware of Bon Jovi but since this pre-dated Google and the ability to immediately search things online, I had no idea what song I was hearing or even that it belonged to Bon Jovi. By the end of the movie, I had forgotten about the song and the feeling it elicited within me. But I would eventually come back to it. And no, before anyone asks, I wasn’t bright enough back then to watch the credits to the end where they display the songs and artists. And since I held my silence about how much I liked the song, I couldn’t even benefit from the fact that my father might have recognized it or suggested the credits thing. We do dumb shit as kids. What can I say?
In 1994, I purchased my first car. It was a 1986 Toyota Tercel hatchback, 3-speed manual. It was an absolute piece of shit car, but I had purchased it with my own money and honestly I only had two concerns: that it had air conditioning and a tape deck. The car’s body could have been covered in polk dots for all I cared, provided those two items were present. CD decks wouldn’t be a common thing for another couple of years at that point and most retail location still carried a healthy library of tapes and newly released albums.
So in those first few weeks of vehicular freedom, I made my way to my local retailer and decided to pick out a couple of tapes to play in the car. I remember feeling a sense of freedom and it was one of the first times I was able to feel as though I was starting to step into a more mature level of pre-adulthood. This excitement was mildly offset by the anxiety at trying to purchase something I knew was “in” and “cool,” so that any of my counterparts at school that heard the music coming from my car would approve. Such is teenage life, right?
That’s where I landed on two cassette tapes. the first one was AC/DC’s “The Razor’s Edge.” this was because I was absolutely enamoured with “Thunderstruck” (and still am) after watching a local martial artist perform a nunchuck demonstration to the song. The second was Bon Jovi’s “Slippery When Wet,” because “You Give Love A Bad Name” was on one of my father’s medley tapes and “Livin’ On A Prayer” played at most of the few school dances I attended. It was enough to earn my stamp of approval and I bought both tapes.
It wasn’t until I played the entire first side of the tape and flipped to “Side B” that I was taken aback at hearing “Raise Your Hands” for the first time since watching SpaceBalls with my father. I was overjoyed at the discovery and pretty much kept playing the song on repeat until I finally wore out the tape, which sucked. Yes, folks! These were the first-world problems of the time. When CD’s became a common thing a short while later, I purchase an adapter to play CD’s through my tape deck and purchased a CD copy of Slippery When Wet.
Why am I writing about this? Well, besides the obvious fact that this is my blog and I can write about whatever the hell I want, I recently had the chance to rewatch SpaceBalls through one of my streaming services. I honestly can’t remember which one and it doesn’t matter. The point is that the days of CD’s and tapes are long dead and gone but my taste in music hasn’t significantly changed. So I immediately Shazamed the shit out that song and downloaded the album. For the first time in over twenty years, I am once again the proud owner of “Slippery When Wet.”
I’ve had the pleasure in recent days of reliving all the teen nostalgia, the campiness of “Social Disease,” the cool story behind “Wanted Dead or Alive” and the raw, emotional richness of “Without Love” and “Never Say Goodbye.” I have a lot of good memories of that music, playing like the soundtrack through my formative years along with Van Halen, April Wine and the Eagles. Some of the memories are great, some are bittersweet and some are a touch on the inappropriate side that I would likely be better off not sharing here.
Memories are particular, because people usually treat them in any one of two extremes. Either they live within their memories, which isn’t a good thing. The only way to move in life is forward. Or they completely forget about the things of the past, which is also not good. Rather, the way to live in a healthy manner is to treat these memories as a lesson to guide you through life and something to aspire to. Good memories serve to show us that not all steps in life will always be mistakes. And the good feelings and good times attached to those memories show us that there is good in life and we can aspire to enjoy it. Food for thought…☯️