#7Songs – Number Four

by John on October 10, 2017

I have been away for a while. It’s been an incredibly busy summer and fall, and one of my colleagues reminded me today that I needed to get back to my writing. She was right, I have been neglecting my voice and what better way than to jump back into the fray than by writing about my songs. Here’s number four in my seven-song series

The Song: Freedom ‘90

Why this one: I graduated from senior high in 1990. I spent my summer working at The GAP and it was one of my first “real jobs”. I was part of a team, trying to learn how to work with others and surrounded by that crappy soundtrack that was constantly playing in the background while I was trying to sell the “outfit of the day”.

One of my co-workers was an English ex-pat (at least that’s what he told everyone). He used his charming accent to rack up the sales from all the cute girls and I was amazed. OK, I was jealous.

He managed to get a copy of George’s album “Listen Without Prejudice” and invited a few girls over to his apartment to listen to the CD. I was invited to join him, another dude that worked with us, and I was completely out of my league.

Talk about life changing moments…I was transfixed by the whole experience.

Where it takes me: This song brings me right back to that in-between time where I was struggling to find my voice, my sense of style, and my desire to not wind up like my parents. I could feel the future. I was scared to register for selective service. I didn’t know what the hell I was doing in college, let alone doing at work. I realized I was part of a group, but also alone. Dissonance was normal, confusion a common feeling, and the desire to grow up quickly was constantly tugging at me.

When I watched the video for the song I saw a world that I hardly knew existed outside of my world in Miami. Models, technology, music all intersected in a way that I could barely comprehend.

Sure, I was somewhat into fashion, if you could consider 90’s GAP fashion (chambray shirts, khakis, denim, and horrible chunky sweaters). Seeing the black and white images of Naomi, Christy, Linda, and Cindy were burned into my psyche. I was hooked, even if I couldn’t figure out how to cinch my jeans and tie my belt just right.

Parting Shots: Yes, it’s campy and cheesy, but the bass line was thumping along and I knew that I was standing alone at the beginning. Trying to figure out how to live alone, trying to do better than my peers who had just graduated, trying to become a person.

Years later, those feelings all come rushing back, but rather than overwhelm me and cause me pain, I now just quietly smile. I can now recognize those same feelings in the eyes of my undergraduate and graduate students. This time around I can be that reassuring voice of experience and help pay it forward.

While I’m still on that path, painfully aware of my shortcomings, I’m comforted by the thought that I can make a difference.

Maybe that’s the true meaning of Freedom!

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