Forever Now

It was 1982, my freshman year in high school. I'd been a devoted fan of The Who for several years -- their music really initiated me into rock/pop music, and helped me define my musical tastes, which definitely weren't supported by the radio stations in my Midwestern home town. If you look to see what were the top 100 hits of 1982, there were some great 80s songs I liked -- Soft Cell's "Tainted Love," Human League's "Don't You Want Me" and the Cars'"Shake It Up." But what you could hear on the radio in my home town was mostly all the other stuff on that hit list: Toto, Air Supply, Chicago, Journey, and Asia. (Yes, I have been known in recent months to sing along with Journey on the car radio, but that's under the general guise of ironic nostalgia. When I was 14, I never would listen to them willingly.)

I think it was in a review in Rolling Stone that I first learned about the Psychedelic Furs. The reviewer said something about Richard Butler's raspy voice either really appealing to you or making you want to run out of the room. And I thought, I have got to hear that. Somehow I just knew. So I bought Forever Now, not having heard a single song.

This album really started the 80s for me. It showed me that there were artists doing something radically different (and to my ears, better) than what I could hear around me. Music that had the energy and anger of punk, but with more melody, and more poetry.

it's raining in my head
but no tears come down
and i'm dreaming of you
until sleep comes around

Eventually, I would discover Depeche Mode, the Cure, and New Order. But I will always have a soft spot in my heart for the Psychedelic Furs, and for this album in particular. I can remember just playing it over and over. Coming home on the school bus after another crappy boring day and feeling the relief of the music.

I first got to see the Furs in 1984. I remember that I wore a bunch of rhinestone pins all over my denim jacket that night, and some college kids admired it. Something happened near the front of the auditorium, and people rushed the stage. A guy I knew at school got to touch Richard Butler's hand. But the roar of the speakers, Butler's understated manner: this was something like magic. We knew that we understood something that other people couldn't see.

love is hiding in the city
here in all of you
put the place in cages
but don't label it a zoo
get a girl inside your head
get out of the way
write yourself a postcard
when there's nothing left to say

there's danger
i believe it
wake up
it's a fight
love me
now forever
war's on
it's now or never

I saw the Furs play again three or four years ago, on one of those 80s revival tours. The music was great, but the crowd was mostly there to see the GoGos, so it wasn't really my sort of scene. That's the sort of combination that would never have been believed in 1982. Or 1985. I prefer my memory of that earlier show.

I listened to Forever Now last night and it still has a powerful effect on me. This was my music, my 80s.