For some people, Jesus saves. For me, music saves. It always has and still does.
Coming from a shitty little poor town in rural northern Indiana, I was trapped by geography, class, and the limited mass and social media technologies of the 1970s and 1980s.
I grew up wanting to escape, but feeling confined by my surroundings and unsure of how I could ever get out (I mean, come on, a family “vacation” for my grandparents and me was a forty mile drive down state road 421/43 to the city of Lafayette to get groceries at Pay-Less and have dinner in the McDonald’s parking lot).
In my early to mid-teens—and especially after my grandma died a few days before my fourteenth birthday—music solidified as something that I could bury myself in, get my frustrations out through, and learn from. It was something affective that made me feel things with my body and brain. The music and lyrics to my favorite songs, albums, and bands put words to things that I vaguely felt but had no language for. Music helped me imagine a life outside of my hometown. Music taught me to question assumptions. And Gang of Four’s Entertainment!—perhaps more than any other album—initially pushed me to question things in such ways that continue to influence who I am and how I think today.
I remember it like it was yesterday. I bought Gang of Four’s Entertainment! in September of 1980 for $6.99 at Slatewood Records, a music and alternative press headshop near Purdue University in West Lafayette. Until it closed at the end of that year, it was a place of pilgrimage. I had three friends, and one of their fathers would occasionally travel to West Lafayette and drop us near the record and book stores. We would use our lawn mowing, hay bailing, and corn detassling money to buy records. Slatewood smelled so good to me. Incense was always burning, and even the brown paper bags you took your albums home in retained the store’s magical sacred scent long after it left the shop. (more…)