The end of May seems to be a locus for love ballads and smooth jams. It also, for the years represented here, was a week of transition from school to summer break. Even into 1997, when I had been out of school for a few years, that pattern followed. I spent 18 years (and one semester in Russia in 1994) being educated, and as they were my formative years, there is an emotional resonance with the end of a school year which will likely carry through for the rest of my life. It is not as strong an emotional tie as that which makes itself felt in late August/early September. But even into my fifties I feel a specific nostalgia as Memorial Day approaches.
1977: Barbara Streisand, “My Heart Belongs to Me”
I couldn’t say when I first heard “My Heart Belongs to Me.” I definitely did at some point, if only be the logic that popular music in 1977 was a small pool, particularly in rural Michigan, with parents who weren’t into anything harder than Manhattan Transfer. I’ve never had any particular opinions about Streisand one way or another, so if this song is familiar, it is only through osmosis. Then again, I would have been seven years old, just shy of my eighth birthday and near the end of second grade when this song was released.
1982: Dionne Warwick and Johnny Mathis, “Friends in Love”
I have certainly heard “Friends in Love” at some point in the past. Warwick and Matthis have beautiful voices and they work well together. This week in 1982 I was near the end of seventh grade, probably looking forward to a summer of milking cows and stacking bales, and maybe a quick trip to visit my dad, wherever he was living that summer. I would have been preparing for the Memorial Day Parade when the junior high band was conscripted to play with the high school band at the Springport VFW hall, to the indifference of the adults and the jeers of our classmates. So no particular nostalgia attached to this one, but it is a beautiful song and I appreciate it more now at 52 that I did when I was 12.
1987: Restless Heart, “I’ll Still Be Loving You”
I do vaguely remember “I’ll still be loving you,” and almost certainly heard it when it was on the charts. Restless Heart is a country band and so I likely heard it played on one of the several country stations which were more prevalent in the 1980s in rural Michigan. The MTV/cable era diminished the size of the slice of the pie which country music enjoyed, but it so greatly expanded the size of the pie that that rising tide lifted every music genre, including country, and made the birth of alt-country possible a few years later. Regardless, this is a fine song, though it doesn’t speak to me, one way or another. I would have been prepping for graduation in this week in 1987, so likely wasn’t paying attention to what was on the radio.
1992: Jon Secada, “Just Another Day”
The end of my fifth year of college I was moving out of off-campus housing at GVSU and into my first “adult” apartment in Kentwood with three friends, and just starting my brief career at West Michigan’s favorite Polish-Mexican restaurant, while prepping for my capstone classes. Which is to say, it was an exciting time, and busy, and though I have heard “Just Another Day” I don’t know if I heard it when it charted, or at some point in the future. I like the song, and Secada has a fine voice, though it doesn’t really stand out from the myriad similar songs which were released in the early 1990s.
I remember seeing this video on MTV more than once, though that could have been years after the song was released. I would have been working at the bookstore with nothing of note happening in my life, likely in a groove of working, working out, partying, and listening to folk, folk rock, and Tom Waits. I like this song, though and it looks like everyone in the video is having fun. Heavy D died in 2011 of a pulmonary embolism. He was born two years before me, and I remember hearing of his death and realizing that people who were my age are dying of the kind of things I used to associate with “old people.” And that was over a decade ago. So it goes.