All posts filed under: Then & Now

Songs We Worked Out To in the ’80s (If We Worked Out At All)

Back in the 1980s, working out wasn’t inextricably linked to music, the way it is today. There weren’t Zumba songs or “Jock Jams.” We didn’t listen to playlists oriented by BPMs. We didn’t have a handy, clippable iPod touch. Yes, we had our Sony Walkmans, but I had nightmares of trying to “jog” with that thing affixed to nylon shorts and watch it crash to the ground. While the ’80s saw the advent of aerobics, and Jane, and Olivia, of course, we did our jumping jacks to whatever music was bouncy. I remember taking a “dance fitness” class in 8th grade and my young teacher playing the Moody Blues “Tuesday Afternoon,” which we thought was the coolest thing ever, if completely inappropriate for Jazzercise. So we conducted a purely unscientific poll of friends, asking people what music they worked out to back then, and found a wide range of tunes — from the obvious to the obscure. We say, whatever moves you. Good For:  Aerobics 1.0  “Can You Feel It” — The Jacksons Everyone remembers the …

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The Kids Are Alright (And So Is Their Music)

This piece is a response to Margit Detweiler’s essay about contemporary music, “The New Pop, Pop, Pop Music (And Why I Don’t Like It).” First, let me say that I don’t entirely disagree with Margit. I, too, am underwhelmed by a lot of what I hear on the radio, and my son went through a Psy phase that almost made me lose the will to live. But I’m more optimistic about the current state of music than she is, and even though my ears are old, I’m not ready to cover them just yet. Full disclosure: I was a Top 40’s kid in the 1970s and 80s. My only exposure to New Wave came from MTV, and the underground and alternative scene was completely alien to me and my suburban boom box. I owned a pair of Madonna-esque fingerless lace gloves, and I spent angst-filled hours listening to Cyndi Lauper’s “True Colors” on my tape deck. Oh, and my favorite band? Chicago. Yeah. That all changed when I went to college. I got the musical …

Then & Now: 5 of Your Favorite Classic Toys Get a Facelift

This past holiday season, classic toys — the ones we loved and played with as kids — were de rigueur gifts for all the children on my shopping list.  I had just finished writing a book on the 50-year history of a classic toy — the Easy-Bake Oven — and decided to limit my shopping list to toys that had made it into the National Toy Hall of Fame in Rochester, New York. The good news was that many of the toys on my list were still being produced and available at traditional toy stores and online retailers. What surprised me was how many of the toys from my childhood had been redesigned – resulting in some of the “new and improved” pale facsimiles.  That’s right, I’m looking right at you, Lite-Brite, with your LED flat screen!  Here are my top 5: 1. BIG WHEEL Then: Growing up in rural Massachusetts in the ’70s and ’80s, the Big Wheel was a big deal. On my street this toy “low-rider” with a huge front wheel was …

Then & Now: Your End-of-Summer Mixtape

Discovering bands that are fresh for your end-o-summer playlist — and actually good to listen to — can be tricky and time-consuming. And you have to know who to trust (“But Aunt Margit, Carly is AWE-some!”) To that end, we’ve compiled a few bands  you might like, based on some old sounds you probably already know. Our picks aren’t all brand new, but a few have gone under the radar, and we insist you listen: 1. Slightly sappy, ’70s singer songwriters Then: Seals & Croft, “Summer Breeze.” Now: The Autumn Defense, “Back of My Mind.” While their album Once Around (2010) isn’t new, we can’t get enough of these two ex-Wilco bandmates and their California, easy, breezy pop groove. “Back of My Mind” is a standout for September.   2. Edgy, unclassifiable R&B Then: Erykah Badu, “On & On.” Now: Lianne La Havas, “Forget.” Is Your Love Big Enough (2012)  is a melange of jazz, pop, R&B and rock, and this 24-year-old’s emotional debut album is a stunner (and woefully overlooked.)   3. Peace, love …