Does it hold up?
For me, it was the summer of 1996. I was working my first job, at a movie theatre as an “usher” (mostly janitor) and saving up the incredible sum of $600 to buy my first car. (I was making $4.25/hr). Later in life I would invest more purchasing my son’s stroller than I would on buying that first car. I knew virtually nothing about cars then but I was in love with those late 50s American cars and their fins reaching heights only the jet age could produce. I recall finding a ‘62 Lincoln Continental via a fuzzy black and white picture in the latest edition of Auto Trader magazine. It was blindingly white with seriously lush red carpet behind suicide doors, and an interior so large it reminded me of the couch in our living room.....of course it needed to be towed because something was terribly wrong with.... well, I don’t recall (the brakes? A slipping transmission? Maybe just the dreaded “ran when parked”?)
Here’s what I ended up with after my co-worker John indoctrinated me into the cult of the air-cooled:
1969 Beetle in gold. Windshield wipers had one speed - too slow, windows rolled down with a crank (unless they fell off first), brakes that failed after fording the shallowest of puddles, so much rust in the backseat under the battery that there were holes where you could see the asphalt beneath....
Yet it was mine. Outright. And I had an aftermarket CD player. 1996.....I was spinning these CDs without respite. Likely purchased at the local Circuit City for $10.88. (Where I would also work loading washing machines and big screen tvs into Ford Explorers or, occassionaly Honda Civics, before the decade was out. All while being encouraged during staff meetings to buy stock in such a promising company...)
3. Stereolab “Emperor Tomato Ketchup”
2. Pulp “This is Hardcore”
1. Radiohead “My Iron Lung” single
I played these albums to death. I can’t hear them today without being transported back to high school, moving to UCLA. the San Fernando valley, driving past Tim Burton’s house (according to a “star map”) and Joan Crawford’s where she wielded the wire hangers.... then the one Phil Hartman died in .... deep in the suburban valley after midnight.
Do they hold up? I think they genuinely do. They are all products of the 90s but not embarrassingly so. French techno-pop. Silly Brit-pop with Jarvis Cocker at his most ludicrously narcissistic/awesome. Radiohead with guitars. I still like them, hopefully not just through nostalgia but as art there is no need to cringe about. Then again we all have blind spots and rose-colored glasses (I remember my hand brushing against the knee of my very first girlfriend while we listened to Pulp as I shifted from 3rd to 4th and how visceral and exciting that felt. All while giving her a ride home from work that was not even remotely on my way....)
What did you listen to in your first car ad infinitum? Do you still think it’s music worth listening to?
Jeff Simmons is the Diecaster-in-Chief on fellow blog LiveandLetDiecast. You should check it out.