Every once in a while around this joint, I like to look back at what I was listening to at a particular time, say, the week before I graduated from high school or the week when I was packing to go to Denmark. Generally, that means a look at a Billboard Hot 100, a radio survey – usually from the Twin Cities’ KDWB – or a glance at the LP log to see what the recent purchases were.
But this morning, as I thought about late Junes over the years, I pondered the June of 1989, when I was sorting and packing in Minot, North Dakota, preparing to leave the prairie for Anoka, Minnesota, a city nestled in the northern portion of the Twin Cities’ metro area. What was I listening to? I’m not immediately certain, and I’ll have to work to reconstruct my set list.
Billboard and whatever surveys that might be available are no help because I manifestly was not listening to Top 40 at home at the time; I’d heard a fair amount of it during my two years advising the student newspaper at Minot State University, as my office adjoined the newsroom, but the students’ station of choice was not mine at home. I kept my radios tuned to an AM station at home for two reasons: Every morning, the station aired a trivia contest that offered free dinners, and I was lucky enough to win a few meals during those two years, and the station was also a member of the Minnesota Twins’ radio network, and I frequently listened to the Twins that season.
Nor is a look at the LP log enlightening. I’d been buying vinyl at a rapid rate during my two years on the prairie – not as rapidly as I would during my seven years in South Minneapolis still to come, but still, between August 1, 1987, and June 30, 1989, my collection had burgeoned from 204 LPs to a total of 586, meaning I’d far more than doubled the shelf space needed since I’d arrived in North Dakota.
So I’m not certain at all what I was listening to as I packed during the last days of June in 1989. The last albums I’d added to the collection were varied: Watermark by Enya, Frampton Comes Alive, James Taylor’s In The Pocket, a hits album by the Cars, and Stevie Nicks’ The Other Side Of The Mirror. Among the numerous LPs I’d purchased in May were Crowded House’s self-titled 1986 album, Boz Scaggs’ self-titled 1969 debut, Van Morrison’s It’s Too Late To Stop Now from 1974, and 1970’s Delaney & Bonnie & Friends On Tour With Eric Clapton. A number of those were likely on the turntable during that last week of June 1989, at least until I packed the records and the stereo the day before I picked up the rental truck.
One album that I know I did not listen to that week was the Peter Frampton live double album. It got stuck into a box for later listening, and – sad to say – never came out of that box from the time I bought it in the summer of 1989 to the day this month that I packed it in a box and sold it at Cheapo in Minneapolis. (I long ago found a digital copy of the album, and – not being entirely blown away by it – decided that mp3s were all the Frampton I needed. Still I wish I’d dropped the album on the turntable at least once, but life – and an overstock of records to hear – got in the way.)
Do I specifically recall hearing any of that music in my Minot apartment? Well, yes. I remember putting the Enya album on the stereo, and the same holds for the albums by Stevie Nicks, Van Morrison and Crowded House. Do any of the tracks I remember hold any emotional punch from those days, when I felt as if I were retreating from a series of battles lost?
Again, yes. Although I’d heard the song before – most notably as Johnny Cash’s 1958 original and Linda Ronstadt’s 1972 cover – Stevie Nick’s version of “I Still Miss Someone (Blue Eyes)” touched a tender spot in me during that summer of 1989 (even though her eyes were not blue). So, as I recall packing my apartment in Minot and remembering as I packed the moments “when all the love was there,” I have to make Stevie Nicks’ “I Still Miss Someone (Blue Eyes)” today’s Saturday Single.