I have a secret… I have a high-school girl crush on Jian Ghomeshi… Well, I actually have a crush on the grade nine boy that he describes in his memoir 1982. The crush would be the 1982 me 17 going on 18 as opposed to the women I am today (my age is really not an issue here…you can do the math). Why do I have a crush…well because he listened to all the cool bands when others were listening to crap. We both listened to Bowie, The Police, Talking Heads, Simple Minds, Depeche Mode… I LOVE Depeche Mode…
“1982” reads much as Jian Ghomeshi speaks on his CBC national radio show “Q”, the narrative is quick fire, filled with just the right adjectives and funny. It is always amusing how he nailed things on the head: be it, his obsession with hair products or his tenacious stalking of the band Rush when they rehearsed one summer just down the street from his house or how he was going to win over his true love – Wendy.
Jian’s book transported me to a more innocent time but truly one of the best times of my life. I was young, carefree and finding my place in the world. Jian’s memoir contains so many rights of passage that we all experience as adolescents. I want my kids to read this book because, as Jian points out, they need to know what life was like before – iTunes, Facebook, YouTube, Google & iPods but more importantly, they need to know how important music and bands are to building the voice and flavour of a generation. (Plus I want them to know what a mixed tape is.)
|My husband’s Ticket stub from The Police concert in 1980 in Vancouver. The ticket price was $9.00|
I, too, got to go to the Police Picnic (for those that don’t understand that reference, it was a day long concert that featured bands and culminated with The Police performing their Synchronicity Tour playlist). My Police Picnic experience was in Montreal in 1982 or maybe it was 1983 (Jian said that they did this three summer in a row)… The unbelievable line up included: Stevie Ray Vaughn, Peter Tosh, The Talking Heads and then The Police… Could it be any better?
Contrary to Jian’s life changing discovery of The Talking Heads at the Toronto version of the Police Picnic in 1982, I had already discovered them in 1981 when I was living in Paris. The Talking Heads were huge in Europe before they even hit North America. I was so happy to hear them and told all my friends about how great this band was. Not many of them had ever heard of The Talking Heads so their scepticism was well founded. That summer would be the last time anyone had “never heard of them".
Reading Jian’s account of his year as a 14/15 year old in Thornhill, Ontario in 1982, I was reminded of how music plays such an intricate role in your life when you are a teenager. I never realized that many of the bands that I listened to were either New Wave or Punk (by his definition). I did know that I did not listen to heavy metal or rock bands back then. Jian’s total disdain in 1982 of mainstream pop was refreshing and still remains a defining principle of his work on Q (his CBC Radio One national morning show).
If you were a teenager in the early 1980’s you have to read Jian Ghomeshi’s book… it is a walk down memory lane not just about the music we use to listen to but that oh-so-familiar-but-have-conveniently-forgotten teenage angst. You remember:
- how you wore your hair (his had an awful lot of gel in it, mine was BIG a la Farah Fawcett)
- wearing black (or purple) eyeliner – you have to read the book to understand that reference
- whether you dressed as a New Wave/Punk in black and wore pointy boots (like Jian) or a Preppy (like me – sorry Jian)
- the school dances or the inspiring teachers that you had or
- having to make a phone call from your home phone attached to a cord (leaving you without the ability to hide in a closet)
My one pet peeve was that I thought he went a bit overboard when he lost his red and blue Adidas bag at the Police Picnic (really Jian… you went on and on and on about this). I can remember my first serious boyfriend having a bag just like his and me thinking “Wow, Greg is so cool because he has one of those shinny two-tone Adidas bags”. I recall standing at his locker while he filled it with textbooks and gym stuff as he packed it to go home. I just thought he was the bomb…Young love in a suburban Montreal high school… sigh…(On a side note: Greg use to make the most a-m-a-z-i-n-g mixed tapes for me. One of the best was a Police tape that I had for years).
Young love is a central theme in Jian’s book and his obsessive love for the older, wiser, cooler and Bowie-esque Wendy is delightful. I often laughed out loud when he was describing how self-conscious and obsessed he was with this girl. The last chapter of the book is worth the whole read…it was a story of unrequited love (although he was a bit of a schmuck to the lovely Janelle… you have to know you were Jian…).
I got this book for my husband (o.k. and maybe for myself) because he is a huge music fan and ‘retired’ DJ (events not radio). If you look below, you will see two sets of frames that enclose all his ticket stubs of concerts that he attended as a kid & adult. It covers 1980 (The Police) through 2006 (Bob Dylan). My husband is going to start another board sometime soon and it will include concerts that we’ve taken our kids to (No Doubt and Green Day).
If you love music… read this book. If you love lists… read this book. If you listen to Q on CBC radio… please read this book. It screams Jian Ghomeshi… well I guess it would because it was about a young Jian and it helps you understand why he is the award winning broadcaster that he is.
“1982” by Jian Ghomeshi is published by Penguin. You can listen to Jian on Q at CBC Radio One or see him on CBCTV every weekday at 10 am EST. You can follow Jian and Q on Twitter. He does the best interviews… listen to some of his podcasts, you will learn a thing or two…or more.
I’m a fan… what more can I say?
Disclosure: this is an book review and opinion piece and is 100% my opinion. I did not receive compensation or a book to review… I just bought it for my husband for Christmas. I have to admit, I read it before he even had a chance to crack it open.