Wow. I still like Billy Idol.
I’m a late Baby Boomer, so I went to high school around the start of the 80s. After enduring about half of my life with nothing but British Invasion Rock, I happened upon a radio station that played “New Wave” music, KROQ. I also found MTV, a cable television station that defined music television. And from there, I found Billy Idol. These two events were the respite and the retreat I needed from a constant radio rotation of the Rolling Stones, The Kinks and some other British pop bands that I no longer care to remember.
I don’t have any of Idol’s CDs. You might remember those shiny discs they used to sell with music encoded on them. I still have my collection, but Billy Idol never made it to my collection because, like The Rolling Stones, I heard his music on the radio every single day. He was in heavy rotation every hour on MTV, and probably more so on the radio, and that just wore me out of him.
Back then, radio and MTV were a thing. There was a lot more “shared experience” of media than we have now, but it was never going to be like the Beatles on the Ed Sullivan Show again. And as the diversity of music grew, so did music sources and outlets. Cable TV was a huge dilution of media given the number of channels that were becoming available every year.
While I was in the mood for nostalgia last night, I watched videos of all of my favorite songs from Billy Idol. I don’t listen to the radio much anymore and I’m so far removed from his music now. But I just had to watch and listen again, so here are a few choice tracks you might like:
That last track, Hot In The City was one that I had never actually heard on the radio in high school. A couple of weeks ago, I found myself bored at a party hosted by Vietnamese friends of my wife (they didn’t speak much English). A friend of mine had turned me onto a new radio station in Salt Lake City, 103.1 KSQN The Wave, a radio station dedicated to The New Wave of music from the 1980s and I just happened to hear it by chance. So I retreated to the car and put that station on. And they were playing Hot In The City by Billy Idol.
I wasn’t familiar with that track, but I knew the voice. So I used Google Assitant to listen to the music with my phone to see who performed that song, and sure enough, it was Billy Idol. Since then, I’ve been thinking about this performer, this act, that had been such a big part of my young life in music.
As I watched Idol’s music videos last night I laughed out loud at how ridiculous those videos seem to me now. Yet, I was still impressed by his swagger, his sneer, his sheer enthusiasm for his brand, his music, and his chutzpah. Idol was a consummate showman and he knew what he was doing. He was doing what he loved to do.
Originally published on my blog at Steemit.com, June 4th, 2018. Updated for grammar, clarity and occasional turn of phrase.