The Spazmatics: The Music That Brought My Youth Back

A trip through 80s nostalgia.

A trip through 80s nostalgia.

I recently came across an old letter I had written to my children a few years ago after a night out at Belly Up to see the Spazmatics. Here it is:

Dear Kids,

In the next few years you will begin to experience all kinds of exciting firsts: first kiss, first crush, maybe even first love. While you navigate through life, you will try to understand human nature, your peers, and relationships. The memories you make throughout your childhood will be etched in your mind, helping to shape the adults you will one day become.

I was once like you: innocent, curious, and living in the present. As an adult, I sometimes forget how it felt to be young.

A few nights ago, I went to Belly Up to see the Spazmatics, an 80s cover band. The music and energy brought out feelings that have been bottled up since my teen years. I danced to my favorite 80s tunes. A decade of the most popular song lyrics came out of my mouth, loud and out of tune. Yet I didn’t care. I had the time of my life.

When the band launched into “Come on Eileen” I was no longer a forty-one-year-old mother and wife. I was ten, twelve, fifteen, growing up in Sudbury, Massachusetts. I was lying on the pink carpet in my bedroom surrounded by loud, flowered wallpaper, listening to my favorite cassette tapes, daydreaming. I called my friends on my yellow-corded, touch-tone phone and asked them if my latest crush liked me. I danced to “I Wanna Dance with Somebody” in front of my wicker mirror, waiting to be called downstairs for dinner. As soon as I finished eating and cleared the table, I ran back to my room and turned up the volume on “Eye of the Tiger” on my Sony boom box.

Hearing other memorable tunes, such as “867-5309/Jenny” and “Summer of ‘69” brought me back to my years at Camp Naticook, secretly praying that a boy would ask me to dance at a social. My heart fluttered when he walked by. I experienced my first kiss at the flagpole and then raced back to my bunk to tell my girlfriends about it.

On Sundays in my childhood home, I listened to Casey Kasem rattle off the hottest songs on American Top 40. Immersed in the music, I sat in the kitchen at our white Formica table eating Doritos and Oreo cookies and squirting globs of Cheese Wiz in my mouth, and then washing it all down with a can of Coke. Vegetables, weight gain, processed food, and sugar content meant nothing to me.

By 11:30 p.m. the four Spazmatic band members, dressed up like 80s nerds, ended the show with “1999.” Still feeling euphoric, I grabbed your dad’s hand and sauntered out of the Belly Up. All that dancing made us hungry. We grabbed a slice from NY Pizza, and then I was back in my college days, munching late-night with the man I would one day marry.

When I got home that night, it was once again 2014. I felt different. Reminiscing made me feel alive and youthful.

The music you listen to during your formative years will be embedded in your hearts, and one day, twenty-five years from now, you will hear those same tunes and be brought back to the age of innocence. Remember––life is a highway––enjoy every moment.




About Lori Gurtman
Lori Gurtman is an author living in Aspen, Colorado.

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