Saturday, October 01, 2005

Thomas Dolby -- Radio Silence



OK. This is NOT the album I bought in 1982. When "Europa and the Pirate Twins" and "Radio Silence " came out I bought the original US release of The Golden Age of Wireless, which had a much better album cover-- Thomas Dolby standing on a stage with some sort of Jules Verne machinery behind him, and it was all golden. The album was a wonderful, wonderful thing. I played it to death. Radio Silence was especially cool to me, with the bizarre lyrics "Oh to paint her eyes of red, and her lips of blue/carve her likeness on the mast, Caroline 452/When they come to call for her, I will be there too" sung with such urgency you knew it was important, whatever it meant. And then, in the best part, there was Lena Lovich doing a mantra, chanting "Try to think of nothing" over and over again.

But every song was cool. Many of them tied in specifically to the wireless/technology theme. And it was a masterwork of synth stuff. This was one of the best albums of the new wave period. Then Dolby ruined the whole thing. Because then he did "She Blinded Me with Science." And that song became so big that they re-released the album, changing the album art, the song order, tossing great songs to stick in other songs, and even putting in a dorkier version of "Radio Silence." Dolby had a rock sensibility to him (he played rhythm guitar on Foreigner's Four album) and a funk sensibility, and the two sensibilities were balanced on The Golden Age of Wireless. Then his dorky funk sensibility won out, and I never bought anything of his again.

But at the time, I didn't care, because I had the original version of the album, and all was well. And then I lent the album to Fernanda Murillo.

Fernanda was one of the girls with whom I was in love in high school. I would make friends with girls and develop crushes and mope about in love with them like a dork. So anyway. She misplaced the album somewhere. And I never got it back.

After high school, I went to college and Fernanda went into the Army and became a medic. I once sent her a care package of clove cigarettes. She wrote back that the other soldiers hadn't ever smelled cloves -- some thought it was pot. (My first cigarette was a clove cigarette I smoked at the Balboa Pier at night with a gaggle of friends... I loved smoking cloves, especially at night by the ocean.)

I saw Fernanda a few times over the next few years, but we lost touch. A few years later, around 1990, I drove down her street and her parent's house, and all the other old bungalows on the street, had been replaced with an apartment complex.

Maybe she helped her parents empty out the house before they moved out and left the house to the wrecking ball. Maybe she found the album. Maybe she keeps it on a high shelf, safely out of the reach of her kids, in case she runs into me again. In the meantime, I hope she keeps it in its protective plastic sleeve, because it's valuable.

3 comments:

Carol said...

I miss album art. I also miss high school crushes. I don't want to trade what I have but I remember that feeling. Like anything is possible.

lee said...

YES! I think that's why I was never actually WITH anyone till half-way through college. I was so in love with the IDEA of love and that anything is possible. I have always been painfully aware that before you make a choice, it's like infinite doors open in front of you, but when you go in any of them, the other doors are all infinite worlds that are then closed to you. And I think I would be a much better person if I wasn't as worried that my options were shrinking. I have actually had dreams that after I got a girlfriend or was married that all of a sudden, all the other women I'd pined after were interested, and I was stuck, unsure if I'd made the best choice. So for some people, the possibilities thing is Good. For me, it's a source of procrastination and anxiety. :-)

Anonymous said...

I'd like to opine that if Dolby's "dorky funk sensibility" turned you off, then you missed his absolute best album: Aliens Ate My Buick.