Chumbawamba – “Tubthumping”

When: November 1997
Where: Pacific Theaters Hastings Ranch (closed)
Who: My mother
Weather: Unknown

In an unusual manifestation of brand loyalty, Disney had a monopoly on me. With the company’s recent purchase of ABC, it would pierce further by bringing me new episodes of Home Improvement. I was seeing one of their newer features when a trailer came on. I forget which movie it was for. I thought it was 101 Dalmatians, but that came out a year earlier. A little bit of research leads me to believe the film I was seeing was Flubber, and the trailer was for either Inspector Gadget, My Favorite Martian, or The Parent Trap. One remake, two adaptations of TV shows. Sound familiar?

Disney’s early-’90s work was so promising, and it shouldn’t have been a good sign that 8-year-old Sam Huddy, a 2nd grader with seemingly no taste or quality filter, looked down on what was to come, from the redundant California Adventure to endless direct-to-video sequels. That last part might as well be a dump on the American flag. And that, my friends, is why everybody hates Michael Eisner.Simba sits in for Meredith

Next: El Niño hits, and things get retro.

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Radiohead – “Karma Police”

When: September 1997
Where: Southbound on Pacific Avenue in my mom’s car
Who: My mother
Weather: Overcast

When I was in the second grade, the older girls liked to play witches and imprison me. That later became a thing of mine, but that’s for another website.

During this trouble, my mother took me on a friday night, without warning, to a synagogue. I had no idea what was going on, but despite the 2-hour runtime of a typical Erev Shabbat service, I was pleased enough. I was not so pleased when she began sending me to Sunday school at said synagogue, as once again I had no idea what was going on. My entire knowledge of judaism up to this point was derived from the 1989 season of IETV’s רחוב סומסום, an Israeli adaptation of Sesame Street.

Temple Sinai was not accessible to me as a religious institution. The Sunday school teachers assumed we already knew everything, but as my family seems to be the least religious Jews in all of America, I did not. Also, I was quiet around strangers, and everyone here was a stranger. It was enjoyable enough, but it never felt personal until I was a full-grown adult, and not because of anyone there. And if you’re reading this, it wasn’t you, it was me. Now where was I?

Following a perfectly normal experience in 1st grade, I became an unbearably smug 2nd grader. This may have had to do something with my awful teacher who hated boys, oblivious to this as I may have been. I only listened to classical music, and after some forgotten misbehaviour my mother refused to play the classical station, instead listening to KROQ, halfway through this song. I didn’t like it. I do now.

Nothing says late-'90s like cold coloursNext: Blondie searches for Fermat’s last theorem

Paul Simon – “Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes”

The nineties ended in 1997, let’s face it. In 1997, the world at large started to feel more grey, more generic. Skanky women in New York started wearing lowrise jeans, it would still be years before they reached us out west. The warming glow of our Cold War victory was wearing thin as we faced a new, underwhelming enemy on the Indian Ocean.

On a personal level I was starting to have a genuine interest in music, starting here with Paul Simon’s Graceland. I couldn’t get enough of it and it was the first time I couldn’t get enough of everything. But on a greater level, I could only appreciate that little window of celebration, the kind of internationalism that brought Paul Simon to this album, that was now coming to an end.

Next: Radiohead, Judaism, and more grey.

Paul Simon – “The Boy in the Bubble”

When: July 1997
Where: California State Route 14, northbound through Lancaster
Who: My father
Weather: Hot, clear

My father didn’t tolerate kiddie music, so when he took me on trips up to the Eastern Sierra, he would bring his own tapes. Sam Cooke, Sam and Dave, Gershwin, and this: Paul Simon’s Graceland. My mom’s car didn’t have a tape deck.

Many of the songs on my list are not singular, they aren’t special. These are merely songs played over and over for just a short time, through no action of my own. But they are forever etched into my memory. They are so then that they cannot be escaped. 1997 was my first big music year, and this ’86 release was, in a sense, a vacation from the present day.

Next: The dream of the nineties comes close to an end as Paul Simon returns.

Blur – “Song 2”

When: April 1997
Where: My family’s den
Who: Unknown
Weather: Unknown

In 1997, Britain invaded the United States. I can remember to this day the jealousy I felt as every girl in my class fell head over heels for Hugh Grant; the Spice Girls were viewed as a fresh new voice; and Mike Myers had brought in a fresh new stereotype from Canada that Englishmen had bad teeth.

Britpop was making waves, but the genre was nearly dead when Damon Albarn of Blur expressed regret of their deeply autobiographical release, The Great Escape. Instead, he handed the reigns of the band to guitarist Graham Coxon, who used the opportunity to give life– possibly unintentionally– to a new, old genre. Before the Strokes, and the Hives, and the other The bands (about which much more later), there was the self-titled album Blur.

This particular track was claimed to have been created as a parody of grunge, which critics and audiences across the pond always hated. And with this claim in mind, it irked Albarn to no end to hear it blaring out of SUVs in Arizona.

But listening to the album, it’s clearly Coxon’s baby; “Song 2” fits in perfectly with the other tracks, and its easy to listen and hear bands that haven’t come into being yet. But in April of 1997, there was no pretense for the child watching a PBS promo on a sunday night, with this song.

Next: The Britons continue to dominate in an unexpected way with The Verve