A Boxing Day present for you, gentle reader. It’s my honour today to share a lovely guest post from my dear friend Steve Browne – quite possibly the most upbeat and inspiring gent you will meet in social media land. Steve is an HR director, a board member of SHRM, and a constant, singularly positive presence on Twitter. He also writes a great blog, entitled Everyday People.
I asked Steve if he might fancy writing about music that means a lot to him as part of my little #7songs2016 series. Steve has excelled himself with a great and evocative post about Pink Floyd’s The Wall. I almost feel like Steve has given me a double Christmas present here: not only did I get to read these words first, it’s also inspired me to check out an album I’d somehow not heard before. And I am greatly enjoying it thus far (the stand-out song for me so far appears in video form at the foot of this post). Without further ado, here’s (Cool) Steve!
“All in All"by Steve Browne
I distinctly remember where I was in the spring of 1980. I was a sophomore in high school and we liked to hang out at a local haunt, which has long disappeared, called theNorthern Freeze in Ada, Ohio. It was a donut shop, coffee shop and dive restaurant all rolled into one. It was magnificent !! My friends and I would go to the Northern Freeze to play Space Invaders and music on the jukebox. Every 45 that played was perfect. The place always had a mix of a blue haze of cigarette smoke mixed with the smell of fresh, hot dough dipped in a decadent glaze.
I was leaving after several fierce rounds of video play when one of my classmates came to a screeching halt in the rear parking lot. My friend Jamie leaned out of his driver’s side window and said, “Hey Brownie, have you heard it yet?” “Heard what?” I asked. “Floyd man. It’s f***ing incredible and will blow your mind.” I know I stood there perplexed and had a confused look on my face.
“The Wall, man. It’s The Wall. You just have to listen to it. Here, take this and give it a listen.” He tossed a double cassette tape to me and told me to bring it to school next week because I needed time to take it in and let it wash over me. I looked down into my hands into a black and white brick wall album cover and understood it was from Pink Floyd. I looked up and said, “Pink Floyd? This is stoner music.” “Just try it Brownie.”
Try it I did, and I was hooked – on the music. Not as a stoner. I had listened to other concept albums in the past, but this was different. From the first note of “In the Flesh?” until the “bleeding hearts and artists take a stand” outside the fallen wall, I was enthralled. I listened to Jamie’s tape over and over again and almost wore it out. I saved up my money so I could go buy the vinyl double album. It was even better than the tape !! It traveled with me to college and then something came along that made an even deeper impression on me.
The album became a movie. Granted, it was a surreal mix of visions and some of the more memorable artistic animation that has been in a movie. I know I’m biased, but I had never seen anything like it. Once the movie became a videotape, I could share the experience with others. During college, I started Cool Steve’s Movie Night where we showed movies for twelve straight hours. (Pardon the nickname. It was given to me because I worked in the dormitories and was nice to folks. It’s a story for another time.)
Two movies that were played every year were “Monty Python and the Holy Grail” followed by “The Wall” at midnight. Every. Year. My friends and I would sit in the dark in overstuffed couches as the projection TV glowed. We sang every word of the double album and didn’t miss one.
It’s easy to enjoy music for a season, and I do. That’s wonderful, but very few songs or albums run deep. This one did and still does. Just like it states throughout the album – All in all – The Wall is spectacular. Do yourself a favor and get the vinyl copy and set aside a few hours. You’ll be hooked as well.