I'm in a nostalgic sort of Sting mood lately. I got his latest CD Sacred Love and while I do like it, I found that listening to it took me back to what I was thinking and feeling when his first solo disc Dream Of The Blue Turtles came out.
I was a junior in high school and a music fiend very much in a stage of transition at the time. In those days, I had my trusty WMF-60 Sony Walkman turned on if I wasn't talking to someone, either listening to local radio or some tape or another. I was finally beginning to feel that I had passed out of an ultimately awkward stage I experienced in my early teens because I wasn't getting teased as much by the "in crowd". Yet, I was also VERY shy around girls and about to launch into the first of a series of three long term crushes that lasted into my first year in college (hey, I'm a late bloomer...)
I think at that time, I was acutely aware of the fact that I was something of an outsider at school. I was very active in a number of different non-athletic activities at school, but, never really seemed to hang out or party with a group of people. In fact, I have the distinct impression years later that I was looked up to by more than a few of my fellow high school classmates as the "good kid", the one that seemed to meet expectations of what a high school junior was supposed to be because I never got into trouble and got excellent grades. This placed me on a pedestal of sorts, and, it was a pedestal I grew to dislike over the years because it separated me from many of my peers.
The existence of this pedestal was confirmed years later when I would run into high school acquaintances at bars and at parties and they would say "Dr. Geek?!?! what are you doing here?"
Ironically, I found that my Mom feels that she was treated pretty much exactly the same way when she was in high school. It is interesting how patterns repeat themselves, no?
All I knew at the time was that I was looking for some common interest that would bridge the gap between me and my fellow classmates, and developing a good musical sense seemed to be part of that.
Unlike friends who had long developed interests in bands like Kiss and the Rolling Stones back in the 70's, I had no discernable musical preferences to identify myself with. By my junior year, I began to remedy that by starting to spend money on cassette tapes, and wearing a Walkman everywhere. This, of course, eventually started me on a path that led to the purchase of a CD player in March of 1989 and a CD collection that numbers about 500 discs today.
I remember one night that I particularly associate with Dream Of The Blue Turtles. I was an avid flute player in those days, practicing 60-90 minutes daily... sometimes more during the summers. That year, I was good enough to make it into a regional Area All-State band along with several fellow band geeks. On the night of the concert, I had my sister's copy of "Dream Of The Blue Turtles" in my Walkman (I was obsessed with "Russians" and "Moon Over Bourbon Street") and I got to hang around with a number of people and treated as a true peer (for that night at least.)
Being the free spirits that high school band geeks often fancy themselves to be, I discovered a world of activity and behavior that my naive late-bloomer personality had only previously guessed at. It all seems rather tame now, but, discovering that one of the band teacher's daughters had about 1/16 oz. of marajuana in her wallet, or how some fellow students spoke cavalierly about sex from direct knowledge changed the slant of my world somewhat that night. Seeing and hearing how some fellow students that I'd known over the years were passing into that late teens/early twenties promiscuous phase, I won't say that it took my innocence, but, it definely convinced me that there was a lot going on around me that I wanted to experience but didn't know how to get to it... yet.
I remember listening to Dream Of The Blue Turtles on the way home in the back of my parents station wagon feeling very left out, but, unsure about how to change my life in a way that would be acceptable on my terms. I think that feeling ultimately lead to some over-experimentation with alcohol in my late teens (culminating with a night spent in a college infirmary with alcohol poisoning just a month before my 21st birthday) just to prove that I didn't exist on some kind of pedestal. This feeling continued with some experimentation with marajuana in my twenties, and, made me feel my virginity as a burden until I lost it when I was 23.
I've heard it said that part of the reason that adolescence is so memorable is that the horomone cocktail flushing through the blood stream is much higher than any other time in life. The horomonal mix sends the brain into emotional overdrive without the proper frame of reference to react to those feelings. Everthing therefore feels new and scary and vibrant and exciting.
I don't know if that is true or not... but I find it interesting that almost 20 years later, I still remember Dream Of The Blue Turtles and driving home from Area All-State one night in Fall of 1985.
on 2003-10-19 at 4:00 p.m.
The Wayback Machine - To Infinity And Beyond