[Brian's Stuff]Visits to retro provide relief from reality

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[Brian's Stuff]Visits to retro provide relief from reality

You know the faces from the past, right? The idols of a bygone era? For me they are Guns N’ Roses, Billy Joel, heck I even include Vanilla Ice. What do they have in common? Ever have those moments when you’re stuck in traffic listening to the radio and suddenly you hear the insatiable guitar solo in “Sweet Child O’ Mine”? Instantly you start humming, bobbing your head and playing air guitar. You lose track of everything, then cast a quick glance around, afraid someone might have seen you. Don’t be afraid. It’s called remembering the good old days.

Guns N’ Roses just came out with a new album after a 17-year draught. Billy Joel recently stood on stage at Jamsil Stadium. Vanilla Ice? I had to go to vanillaice.com to get the latest news. He released a new album last month with a bonus track of - you guessed it - “Ice, Ice Baby (New Romantic Mix).” That must be some naughty tunage.

Now that I’ve reached my mid-30s, I am in full-retro mode. I go to music stores and get mad when nobody knows who Johnny Hates Jazz is. A friend who noticed my back peddling to the past asked me the other day, “What’s wrong with you?” What’s wrong with me? I’ll tell you what’s wrong with YOU.

All three of the names I have dropped in this column may mean nothing to the likes of my sister (born in 1983), who thinks that Ne-Yo rocks. Okay, the guy can sing, but Ne-Yo? Once upon a time, singers and bands had real names like New Kids on the Block (the original boy band) or Culture Club. Their names contained actual words, not just syllables. You may be saying, “Don’t you know people nowadays don’t have time to think things through?” Maybe, but it still doesn’t hurt to at least indicate a singer’s gender so listeners know with whom they are dealing.

The guy who arranged the Billy Joel concert may be laughing up his sleeve about the hefty fee he earned producing a dinosaur who may now only be recognizable in The Encyclopedia Britannica. Names and what they represent connect us with our past and what we all wish we could have back. Those were the days when we could eat melamine-infested foods, pound our chests and say we want more. Those were days when joining the Foreign Legion wasn’t just a distant dream but reality. These names are the dots that connect us to memories buried somewhere in our brains. The good and the bad, but still the fond.

Why is this so? I think I know the answer but I am afraid to admit it. For most of us, reality is just not what we had hoped. Receding hair lines, pot bellies, Osama Bin Laden and Bush policies. It’s sad. So next time you see me going retro, cut me some slack. There is no better path back to the past.


[africanu@joongang.co.kr]

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