The Bearded Iris

A Recalcitrant Wife and Mother Tells All

Play that funky music, white girl.

This week’s Listography over at Kate Takes 5 is called “Now That’s What I Call Music!”

No, this weeks Listography isn’t your Top 5 favourite bands or Top 5 albums. It isn’t your favourite musical genres or most admired soloists. No, this weeks Listography is confession time.

First 5 albums you ever owned.

SWEET! I do loves me some classic tunes, as evidenced in my awesome dance moves to KC and the Sunshine Band last week. Hmmm, let’s see….

1.) It was 1977 and I was the proud owner my very first single: “Da Doo Ron Ron” by Shaun Cassidy.

I was only 7 years old, but I thought he was the bee’s knees. I mean come on… look at that kisser. Oh how I wanted to change my name to Jill! Yep, I was pretty sweet on that Hardy Boy for a minute there, but it didn’t last. Something was missing…

2.) Fast forward two years to 1979. My parents’ divorce was final and the disco era was in full swing. (I don’t think the two are unrelated.) I had outgrown my infatuation with squeaky-clean teen heartthrobs and was eager to graduate to something with a little more, oh I don’t know… verve. I had some money burning a whole in my little Sassoon jeans and I wanted desperately to own something by that hunka-hunka-burnin’-love, Barry Gibb, the foxy lead singer of The Bee Gees. Only problem was, I didn’t know his full name. Thus, under the supervision of a clueless teenage babysitter, I went into a record store and inadvertently purchased a copy of this:


That’s right. Not Barry Gibb…. Barry WHITE. “The Maestro.” A.k.a. “The Walrus of Love,” a nickname that encompassed his corpulent size, his deep voice, and his reputation as R&B’s most romantic ladies’ man.

I’m not a gambling woman, but I would wager my last nickel that I was the only 9 year old white suburban girl in the history of the world to ever buy a Barry White album. And let me tell you something, when I got that LP home and put it on my record player, it was devastating. Hearing that shockingly sultry bass “Can’t get enough of your love, babe” voice instead of the high-pitched falsetto “Well you can tell by the way I use my walk…” I was expecting, created a sense of sadness and confusion I cannot begin to describe. On the plus side, a soulful seed was planted that would influence my music tastes for the rest of my life.

Just so we’re clear…

I wanted this:

 

But I accidentally got this:

 

And became the only Barry White album owner in America
who looked like this:

(I like how all three of us have basically the same hairstyle.)

Don’t let my “girl next door” look fool you.
Apparently once you go black, you never go back.

3.) So anyway, it took a long time to get over that mistake and the curious stares from my parents. But later that year, a friend of the family took pity on me and bought me a copy of “Breakfast in America” by Supertramp.

I enjoyed it. It was catchy…. albeit a little white for my taste, and not Barry White, if you get my drift.

4.) Thankfully it wasn’t long until I discovered “Celebration” by Kool and The Gang.

My third grade teacher, Mrs. Andrianos, let us bring records to school once a week to share with the class and I must have brought this one every week for the entire year. Any 9 year old can bring an apple for the teacher, but it takes a special child to bring the funk.

5.) That was the same year (1980) I discovered my reason for living…

Diana Ross, The Supreme Diva…be still my heart. I sang along with “Upside Down” and “I’m Coming Out” until I wore a hole in that LP. To this day, I cannot hear either of those songs without grabbing the nearest microphone-shaped-object and doing my own little Diana-Ross-wanna-be-dance. When I saw her on Oprah earlier this year I cried. I cried even before Oprah cried. If you and I are ever at a karaoke bar together and I am good and hammered, you know what to do if you want to see me make a gigantic ass out of myself (more so than usual, that is).

I know this listography is limited to 5 albums, but in full disclosure, you should know that apparently Diana Ross was merely a gateway drug for the next few critical years of my musical development…

Well thanks for coming along with me on this musical journey down memory lane. If you enjoyed this little sideshow, go see what the other crazy kids who linked up to Kate Takes 5 shared for their Listographies. My word, the things you can learn about a person!

Until we meet again,

-Iris

© Copyright 2011, The Bearded Iris.

18 Comments

  1. Goodbye Yellow Brick Road by Elton John, double album received for my 16th birthday. I already had REO speedwagon andof course Chicago, an Bachman Turner Overdrive. Then there were the 3 cat Stevens Albums, Linda Ronstadt, etc, etc. I did like me some Barry White though……or even better Sexual Healing…….It’s bedtime, I think my filter on my mouth may be dissolving and I may start embarrassing myself if I say much more. Remember I met my husband at the end of 7th grade, we grew up together in more ways than one.

  2. Love, love, love this list! Aside from Shaun Cassidy but there’s always one. You’re one cool lady 😀

  3. Oh man (I feel this is the best was to address you from now on) – it has been a long time since I laughed out loud at a post as much as that! Puts my Kate Bush story to shame. I love this sooo much – thanks for sharing!

  4. Barry White! Kool and the Gang! 9 years old! Not to mention the Nile Rogers/Bernard Edwards brilliance of that Diana Ross record. It took me till my late twenties to discover the joy of 70s funk and 60s soul (Beg, Scream & Shout, now there’s a box set). Maximum respect, Iris.

    And because boys love lists, my first five records (including singles):

    Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia – Laurel & Hardy (I was 8 I think)

    then a big gap till

    Ziggy Stardust & The Spiders from Mars – David Bowie
    The Song Remains the Same – Led Zeppelin
    The Clash – The Clash (first gig I went to as well)
    God Save The Queen – Sex Pistols

    • PS- Barry White story;

      A man returned his copy of Barry White’s greatest Hits saying to the clerk that he put it on last night and it didn’t work. Well, said the clerk, next time you should try champagne and chocolates as well. True story.

      I’m so envious of you discovering the magic of soul at such a young age. For me, in gritty post-punk Britain, it was the Jamaican influence around me that got me into Dub and Reggae inspired by the multi-cultural call-to-arms of The Clash and, later on, the retro mod-soul and ska of The Specials.

      You’re speaking my language here, Iris. It’s wonderful hearing of your muscial education.

      • The Bearded Iris

        April 4, 2011 at 10:10 am

        Awesome comments, as always, Mike – keep ’em coming! Now if only I could speak with a Scottish burr, I’d REALLY be speaking your language!

  5. Thank you for reminding me of the wonder that was Barry Gibb’s hair.

    Your musical tastes were way too cool for a child…. Love the idea of the 9 year old you “bringing the funk” to school.

  6. I just love the fact you meant to buy Barry Gibb and you ended up with Barry White. Who does that? And you were nine. That is brilliant.

    Love Supertramp by the way.

    I have to ask – who is the group between Lionel and Michael? Am I putting myself to shame here?

    Did you ever get that email that just has the message “Hello…” then when you open it, it’s a photo of Lionel Ritchie with a big biscuit for hair? And the caption is “…. is it tea you’re looking for?”

    • The Bearded Iris

      April 4, 2011 at 7:50 am

      That middle group with the matching Jheri curls is DeBarge. They were huge in the early-mid 80s with soft R&B hits like “All This Love,” “I Like It,” “Love Me in a Special Way,” and “Rhythm of the Night.” I actually saw them in concert when I was in 7th grade – they were supposed to open for Luther Vandross (another soulful great that a preteen suburban white girl probably had no business loving), but Luther never made it on stage that night due to health problems. God rest his honey-voiced soul.

      I have never seen that Lionel biscuit-hair email! Sounds awesome though. Maybe it’s a Brit thing?

  7. Great post. I hope Barry Gibb’s hair never comes back in style. My memory is not as good as yours but I remember:
    Sweet (remember Ballroom Blitz)
    David Bowie
    Kate Bush
    Electric Light Orchestra
    Paul McCartney and Wings

  8. ooh ooh! I want to play. My list is straight up nut-job. I was a child of the 80’s, so here goes.
    1. My first album was Disco Duck. I feel it’s worth mentioning, ’cause I really liked it.
    Now to when I was older
    5th grade
    2.Wham! Wake my up before you Go GO.
    3.Cynie Lauper Girls Just wanna have fu-un!
    Here is where I went dark:
    4.Guns and Roses ( for a fifth grader?)
    5. Poison
    And were back to happy!
    6. Menudo- mmm…Ricky Martin

    Make some sense of that list, will ya!

  9. Love the hair! He he…a list a little before me but always liking a little bit of soul! x

  10. Hmmm. Yes, my top 5 also involves Barry. Wait…not THAT Barry. Or even THAT one!

    1) Even Now by Barry Manilow (and yes…same hairstyle.)

    2) GREASE soundtrack

    3) The One That You Love by Air Supply

    4) Rio by Duran Duran (…the one that changed my life. Notice, I do have a son named Simon. And that totally is the reason. Fortunately, he is fine with this.)

    5) Synchronicity by The Police

  11. PS. @Megan, Disco Duck ruled! My sister had it.

  12. Did you get your Shaklee yet? Are you a cleaning fool???? 🙂

  13. Hey Iris, lovely to find your blog after Kate grounded us together on twitter this week. I think the fact you had a whole Diana album is so cool, I only had a single and it was Chain Reaction (not so cool).

  14. The first one is humiliating, but it gets more respectable from there…

    Chipmunk Punk (the Chipmunks singing hits like “Call Me” and “My Sharona”)
    The Police – Ghost in the Machine
    Pink Floyd – The Wall
    Def Leppard – Pyromania
    Beatles – Blue Album

  15. another laughing out loud so the kids all ask me, “what’s so funny” and I can now say “Iris” and they know to go about their business! I also had Shaun Cassidy as my first album, and I actually saw him in concert in 1978 at Alpine Valley in Wisconsin,(2 hours from our house) my wonderful sister took me and my cousin there(we were 12, she was 20) and our car was stuck in the mud in the middle of a cow pasture when we left, it was awful and she tells me later how scared she was with us out there(that was their parking lot at the time, but no lights, stupid cheeseheads) but we had a blast anyway! Thanks for a great memory! I can’t believe you didn’t have Michael Jackson’s “Off the Wall”!

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