Back in the late 1980’s through much of the 1990’s, compact discs were still a fairly new innovation in audio entertainment and were considered gift items. Stores that sold music would have big sales on New Year’s Day on their compact discs.
In 1991, I wrote a journal entry about my selections for that year in my Especially for Girls journal. I didn’t (and still don’t) write in my journal every day, so if I did manage to write an entry on a specific date, it must have been pretty important to me.
I was mostly a Top 40/Adult Contemporary/“Oldies” listener in those days, so a lot of what I was looking for, we managed to find at places like Target or KMart.
We went with my mom and an adult friend we knew through our church. He was good at pricing CD’s from store to store and he also knew whether the content on a given recording was age appropriate. Here are the album selections from that journal entry in 1991:
Vanilla Ice – To The Extreme
In the fall of 1990, “Ice Ice Baby” was inescapable. If it wasn’t playing on your local Top 40 station, the video was probably playing on either MTV or VH-1.
The girls liked Vanilla Ice because we thought he was cute, but the boys liked him because they thought he was cool. As Vanilla Ice and MC Hammer grew in popularity, the New Kids on the Block started to wane.
Mariah Carey – (Self Titled)
This is Mariah Carey’s debut with her first hits: “Vision of Love”, “Love Takes Time” and “Someday”. I remember the D.J. at the spring dance in 1990 playing “Vision of Love” as one of the last slow songs.
Nelson – After The Rain
The first time I heard “Can’t Live Without Your) Love and Affection” on the radio, I thought it was a new Bon Jovi song. As it turns out, it was the debut of the twin sons of the late Ricky Nelson, Gunnar and Matthew Nelson. The twins harmonized beautifully and had long cornsilk hair. Some girls had a favorite, but I was never able to tell them apart.
Now that I think about it, it probably would have been Matt though. About 85% of my crushes growing up were on guys named Matt/Matthew. I’m not sure if it was a “type” or a statistical inevitability.
Perfect Gentlemen – Rated PG
Yes, I did buy this. I’m not really sure why, but I think it may have been as a souvenir for the NKOTB concert I attended the previous summer. When I listened to it while I was writing this article, there were mentions of NKOTB in at least one of the songs, so that must have been enough justification for my thirteen year old brain.
Alannah Myles – (Self Titled)
Back in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s, people were nostalgic about Elvis Presley. The opening lines of Myles’ “Black Velvet” captured a sweltering summer evening in the South so well I check my arms for mosquito bites every time I hear it. Even in the dead of winter. My favorite lyric is the one about the sun “setting like molasses in the sky”.
Selections from the 1992 Shopping Spree (according to that year’s journal):
A Nelson Video
Probably a video cassette of the videos from songs on After The Rain.
Chesney Hawkes (cassette) single – “The One and Only”
This is a song from the Michael J. Fox movie Doc Hollywood. If I remember correctly, it’s the song that plays over the opening credits.
Bryan Adams (cassette single) – “(Everything I Do) I Do It for You”
Of course, this was from the Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves soundtrack. Whether you liked the movie or not, that was definitely the slow dance song for the year.
You might be wondering why I’m mentioning cassettes on a shopping trip where the primary objective was to expand our CD libraries, but there’s something I didn’t mention. The only CD player in the house at that time was downstairs.
My brother and I were still limited to radio and cassette tapes in our rooms for at least another year or two. Mr. G showed my mom how to dub cassette tapes from the CD’s so we could listen to them in our rooms. This also prevented a lot of fights.
All I Want for Christmas soundtrack
This was the most difficult item to find. I was frustrated after the disappointment of going through several stores and not finding it. We finally found a copy at Coconuts for something like $18.00, which was expensive at the time, but my mom let me have it because it was the only copy of it we found. A bird in the hand and all that.
There was one thing about the soundtrack that always disappointed me. There’s a scene where Lauren Bacall and Thora Birch sing a family friendly version of “Baby, It’s Cold Outside”, but it didn’t make it to the soundtrack. It does have Stephen Bishop’s sweet ballad, “All I Want” and a couple of the oldies that play during scenes in the diner, Lloyd Price’s “Stagger Lee” and “Yakety Yak” by The Coasters.
This was the same Coconuts where Mom got the NKOTB tickets the year before. I was really sad when that store went out of business. I had more of a sentimental connection to Coconuts than I ever did to Tower Records.
1995 was the last year I remember going out with the original group. I kept up the tradition on my own the best I could each year, buying at least one CD at KMart or MediaPlay while I was working at the respective retailers.
I think sometime between 1993 and 1995 may have been the year our big Christmas gifts were Sony CFD-440 boomboxes. This meant we each had our own CD player and a tape deck which meant we now had the capability to make mix tapes without having to be at the mercy of the radio station DJ’s. Here are some albums we purchase during that era:
Aerosmith – Get a Grip
I didn’t specify the title in my entry, but this must have been Get a Grip. “Cryin”, “Amazing”, “Crazy”. There were some CD’s that went back and forth between my room and my brother’s and this was definitely one of those.
Sheryl Crow – Tuesday Night Music Club
The summer before, “All I Wanna Do” was a big hit. I love songs where the lyrics include descriptions of people. I call them “character sketch” songs. Other songs I like for the same reason include The Beatles’ “Eleanor Rigby” Billy Joel’s “Piano Man”, Counting Crows’ “Mr. Jones”, and Train’s “Meet Virginia”.
The other song I liked on this album was “Strong Enough”. I once made a tape of myself “singing” this for a crush, but I never managed to get up the courage to give it to him.
Celine Dion – The Colour of My Love
Celine Dion was to soundtracks in the 1990’s what Kenny Loggins had been to them in the 1980’s. Sometimes I wonder if there was a moment where the torch officially passed from Loggins to Dion.
From the love theme duet with Peabo Bryson for Beauty and the Beast and “When I Fall in Love” for Sleepless in Seattle to Up Close and Personal’s “Because You Loved Me” and Titanic’s “My Heart Will Go On”, Ms. Dion had rom coms and tearjerkers covered in the 1990’s.
Gin Blossoms – New Miserable Experience
At some point in the mid 1990’s, “alternative” became part of the mainstream. Gin Blossoms were great to play when I just felt a little irritated or mopey.
Maybe I felt a cold coming on, my favorite vending machine snack was sold out, or a classmate had a birthday and was carrying around a fistful of those shiny silver balloons. For those of us with summer birthdays, there was a twinge of envy when we saw classmates walking around the hallways with arms full of presents and a bouquet of balloons.
Boyz II Men – Cooleyhigharmony
I love a good close harmony and their voices were all so smooth and velvety. Also, “It’s So Hard To Say Goodbye to Yesterday” was a staple for year end montage videos and movie scenes with funerals. I think the first time I actually heard it was in Lethal Weapon 3.
R.E.M. – Green
My favorite R.E.M. albums are Document and Automatic For the People, but Green has songs like “You Are The Everything”, “Stand”, and “Pop Song 89”.
R.E.M. – Monster
I’m not really sure which song made me want to buy this album. It may have been “What’s The Frequency, Kenneth?”, “Strange Currencies”, or “Crush With Eyeliner”.
The Soundtrack for Grease
Earlier this week when I was listening to TRN Podcast’s Flickchart Omnibus 1990’s movie episode, Mickey mentioned the effect Pulp Fiction had on rejuvenating the career of John Travolta.
Nick at Nite added Welcome Back Kotter to its lineup of vintage shows in 1995 and it seemed like TBS was showing Grease at least once every weekend between 1994 and 1994. Every year, it seemed to show up at the beginning and end of the school year. It would also run at least once or twice between Christmas and New Years’. I just watched part of it a couple of days ago.
There was something about watching that movie as a high school senior. I’ve watched it at other points in my life and still enjoyed it, but it just never hit quite the same way it did during that magical year.
The Best of Three Dog Night
Three Dog Night songs were in regular rotation on my local oldies station, Fox 97. “Joy to the World”, “Celebrate”, “Just an Old Fashioned Love Song”, “Mama Told Me (Not To Come)”, “Eli’s Coming”, and “Shambala”.
I really liked a lot of older songs because a lot of times they were the easiest to sing along with. Just try to keep from smiling when you think about the first line of “Joy to The World”.
Joshua Kadison – Painted Desert Serenade
This is one of those adult contemporary albums I loved, especially “Beautiful in My Eyes”. It was another slow dance staple for several years. There wasn’t a trace of cynicism in Kadison’s lyrics. It was just a sweet and wholesome love song about a healthy relationship based on unconditional love.
My mother and Mr. G. both worked really hard to give us a variety of musical choices. Of course, some of these artists ended up better off than others in the long run.