1998

These posts are getting a lot more complicated as I get older, because I remember more and more of each year. They are going to follow a more linear format, because I was changing constantly and it's no longer fair to use the year as a unit of growth. Be warned. Also, it's fair to say that anyone who was reading this and having a good time because of my silly but generally pleasant musical tastes, you probably won't enjoy most of the music I like for the next 5 years. But this isn't for you, it's for me. Onward.

First musical memory of 1998 is a real juggernaut. I'm 13 years old, and it's spring break of 7th grade, and we're going on a group trip to Washington D.C. and New York City. And one song has everyone totally captivated:

I brought my walkman on the trip, complete with radio taped version of this song, and I listened to it constantly. At one point on the trip we had to drive from D.C. to NYC on a bus, and there's a video out there somewhere of a very early morning on this long ride. The camera pans across a dozen sleeping 7th graders and right across me, wide awake with my headphones on, probably listening to this song. I think I ended up buying the tape somewhere along the way, if not picking it up and previewing it at every music store we went by. Nothing was cooler to me than being in New York and listening to Gettin' Jiggy Wit it. I can't imagine what might be cooler now.

The spring was occupied by two other albums that I can remember distinctly. One was a cynical lyrical mess of an alternative rock effort by Eve 6, as "Inside Out" took the country by storm. I had worn myself out on the single, but there was plenty more to be found on the album. Here's a cut that I'm probably the only person in the world who would pick as an album favorite: 

The second was the soundtrack to the much criticized remake of "Godzilla". I was really excited for the movie, and took a lot of flack for making Kyle and Nathan go see it. I admit the movie was terrible, but the soundtrack was KILLER. Obvious single doesn't need to be mentioned, but I will anyway since it was a huge deal:

But the star power on the rest of the album is incredible- Ben Folds, Rage Against The Machine, Jamiroquai, Wallflowers, Silverchair, Green Day, etc. I doubt the new remake can boast such a deep lineup. I still prefer the Wallflowers version of "Heroes" to the Bowie version.
 

And then, it was summer. This summer is a landmark summer for me. I never had a summer job, so I was just a lazy, drifting mess who stayed up later and later (and slept in later and later), eventually wandering over to Kyle's house to play video games or throw cards into a hat or something. Or I'd go over to my buddy Don's house and shoot hoops and dub funny voices on top of cartoons. And then one day, we put the two together and started our first band, The Funky Beats.

While the band didn't go far, the name was one that ended up associating itself with a number of projects. In the coming years as we were making more and more movies, Funky Productions was the production company that made it onto the title credit. The band was the first and only true funky thing though. No, we didn't really have any instruments or anything. I think there was a bad electric guitar and a bad acoustic guitar. I played the drums (the drums was a cardboard box). No, we didn't write any songs either. But in our defense, we DID listen to the Beastie Boys while Kyle and Don played around on guitar and I smashed up the box with some drumsticks. I can't tell you how many times we "played" Fight For Your Right that summer. It was the greatest thing in the world, and I have Don to thank for the memories. He's the biggest Beastie Boys fan I've ever met, and a cool guy. Hi Don.

While the album we listened to most that summer wasn't the new one, this was the year Hello Nasty came out, which was one of my most listened to albums of the next two years. Especially the following year, when I had a tv in my room, I would either fall asleep to a vhs taped copy of Dumb and Dumber or the Beastie Boys. Every song on the album was a winner, but the track that got the most play was the Fatboy Slim remix of "Body Movin'". Watch this whole video, please:

 

An embarassing Body Movin story- when school started up again there was a talent show, and me, Don, and this kid Justyn decided that we would try our hand at a performance. Our try-out consisted of the three of us rapping on top of- wait for it- my static-y radio taped version of the song. It was terrible. Needless to say, we did not PASS THE AUDITION for a MIDDLE SCHOOL TALENT SHOW. Kind of glad in retrospect.

Radio singles were getting worse and worse as the boy-bands moved in, but the slower ballads were known by all due to their prevalence at middle school dances, of which I actually went to a fair amount. I think my first slow dance, or first real slow dance memory was to Aerosmith's "I Don't Wanna Miss A Thing". Or was it "Kiss from A Rose" by Seal? Could have been either.

Authors note: I wrote this whole post and left off a song that also was the pinnacle of song infatuation for myself. Inserting it now!

Man that song to a 14 year old me was the greatest. It was funny, it was fast, it was nonsense and poppy. Anyway, back to what I initially wrote. 

To follow back up on a final point- I mentioned that a lot of 1998 was spent listening to the hits of 1997. By this time, I had built a moderate CD collection, and somewhere in here I got a 3 disc changer with remote for my bedroom. This is where (if you spend any time in a car with me) I developed my love of "shuffle".

I wasn't a superstitious kid, but I placed a lot of value in fate, luck, and the effects of positive mindfulness. As a result, I would create a lot of little mind games in order to instill this feeling in myself. A simple example- solitare. I'd start a million games of solitare, and each one I'd say something to myself like, "ok, if I win this next one, something great is going to happen". And then if I didn't win, I would start new games and play until I won. Same with a little video poker game I had. I'd just play hand after hand, just trying to get the big jackpot because it meant that I was lucky in general.

Shuffling had a similar effect- I never (and still don't) shuffle because I don't know what I want to hear- I always have one or two songs that I'm aiming for- but I want it to come to ME. I want the sheer luck of the draw to play the song I want to hear, as a sign that the universe is aligned with me. It was a feeling that I got from the radio- the thrill of having "that" song come on, completely autonomous at a time that I wanted to hear it was something that went away when I stopped listneing to the radio, so I had to re-create it myself.

1998 was a great and and confusing year for me, and I left out a lot of the awkardness to focus on the music. We are both glad. 

Up Next- Probably my worst year of music fandom ever. 

Comments

Great article. I literally laughed out loud. I remember a couple of Funky Beats songs I wrote. One was called Tough Shit and the other one was a song actually about Godzilla. I remember one of the lyrics went something like this: Godzilla, he's large and in charge/ He'll smash your whole house, and your garage.

Oh man, I remember those. Without question, you were the heart and soul of that band.

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