As I mentioned a couple of posts ago, I attended my 30-year high school reunion last week. I didn't communicate with three-fourths of my class when I was in high school, but it was a pretty mind-blowing time last weekend. In fact, if you're approaching that same reunion milestone and have never gone to a previous reunion (like me), I recommend going. At the very least, it will be amusing.
The most gratifying thing about that weekend for me may have been having the opportunity to return to a place where everyone remembered the early 1980s. The entire room was filled with people who knew the area where I grew up, knew how we got from there to here, and know how perplexing it is sometimes to live in our current virtual world of gadgetry.
Everything that existed then is viewed differently by the people who came after. Our ways then don't make sense to them now. It felt good to be among those who could still make sense of those times.
As one tiny example, take the Def Leppard album Pyromania, which came out the very year I graduated.
Someone younger with little historical knowledge of music will see this cover and be reminded of 9/11. That's their frame of reference. Others will equate Def Leppard with the hair bands of the '80s, which the group helped spawn but really wasn't in the same category. Others will say, "isn't that the group with the drummer who lost an arm?"
But people in my graduating class remember this album for what it was in 1983 -- a hard-driving LP that translated well to the early days of what was then a still-awesome cable television station called MTV. Listen to Pyromania now and it sounds polished and barely rocking compared with what would arrive later. But at the time, only the hardest rockers in school listened to Pyromania. And you were convinced every last one of them would make a living as a guitar player.
I still like Def Leppard, and I was introduced to them by Pyromania (I vaguely recall a couple of kids discussing "High n' Dry" when I was a sophomore or junior). I'm also still living in the hazy aftermath of that reunion weekend, viewing pictures, renewing contacts, etc. So I'll be burdening you with a trip to 1983 and a Match the Song Title session.
As usual in this exercise, I will try to find a card that matches the song title to each song in Pyromania. Again, it's not an easy task. In this case, there are a lot of war-like references in Pyromania. Baseball doesn't associate easily with war. Football does. But I'm pretty much all about baseball.
So here is the song list and get ready to rock.
But first ...
Gunter glieben glauten globen.
OK, now I'm ready.
Match the song title: "Pyromania, Def Leppard"
Track 1: Rock! Rock! (Till You Drop). This one wasn't easy. I couldn't sleep last night. So I spent, oh, I don't know, maybe two hours trying to come up with a card for this song. The only thing I could think of is a player who went all-out each and every game.
I thought of Pete Rose first. He was a hard-living man on the field. I wish I had one of those awful Leaf cards from the Pete Rose set so I could show him sliding into a base with abandon. But this will do.
Track 2: Photograph. The first single off of Pyromania and the song that propelled Def Leppard to fame. I was still in my stage of buying 45 records at this time (don't make me explain 45s again), and I bought the 45 of Photograph. The B-side is "Action! Not Words," which I didn't really like.
This was the easiest card to pick. Or I could have found the zillion other Upper Deck cards where a ballplayer is pretending to use a camera. I'd like to see this updated at some point, showing a player using his ipod.
Track 3: Stagefright. I doubt "stage fright" comes close to what happened to Steve Blass when he inexplicably lost the ability to throw a ball toward the plate. The technical term for "Steve Blass Disease" is focal dystonia and it's still not fully understood. But I have a tendency to think of players like Blass or Steve Sax who suddenly stop being able to perform a basic task of their job as having stage fright.
I picked this card because this was when Blass was at the very end of his career and nothing was going right.
Track 4: Too Late For Love. The fourth and final single from Pyromania.
I've been lax on following the offseason activity of my team. I don't know if Brian Wilson is coming back next year. But if he does, he will be just a cog in the machine to me, just like he was last year. I will never be able to get behind him after those years with the Giants. I root for him when he's on the mound for the Dodgers. But it's too late for love.
Track 5: Die Hard the Hunter. This is a song about a soldier returning from war who can't adjust.
I'm sure there are cards of players wearing hunting camouflage. (Sometimes I think I need Dime Box Nick's collection when I'm doing these posts). I couldn't find one of those, but I did find a photo of a turkey caller wearing camouflage. Good enough.
Track 6: Foolin'. Welcome to Side 2 (you know what Side 2 means, right?). This was the third single released from Pyromania. You weren't nothing as a rock band then if you didn't release songs with spooky videos. The dude playing the harp amid the flames at the start of this video creeped me out.
I think Palmeiro fooled me and everyone when he testified that he never took PEDs and then surprise!! Still a bit blown away by that.
Track 7: Rock Of Ages. This is the second single off Pyromania and I totally associate this song with high school graduation time. It's also the definition of an '80s video. Creepy monks, a burning pyre, a damsel in distress, giant swords, chess pieces, glass shattering for no reason, and a sinister cackle. They're all there. And none of it makes sense. But it's all OK, because there's an owl in it, too!
Todd Helton was the rock of ages for Colorado. Easy card to pick.
Track 8: Coming Under Fire. One of the songs that could have used a football card. But the Braves' pitching staff from the early 1990s works, too. There were a lot of helpless batters under fire when they faced the Braves.
Track 9: Action! Not Words. There are a few players noted for refusing to speak to the press. But none are as memorable as Eddie Murray, nor as successful (Steve Carlton excluded).
Track 10: Billy's Got a Gun. Not sure how much of a gun Billy Wagner had left when he was with the Mets. But at one time he had a gun -- unfortunately that was the time when I wasn't collecting cards.
And that's where the needle comes off the record.
In 1983, I was playing a lot of records with a needle. And so were the classmates that I saw last weekend.
That's all we had. Some of you may not remember that. But I was reminded last weekend that there are a whole lot of people who do.