I had almost too much fun talking to Mike Lastra on the radio. When I get that excited, it doesn’t sound very professional. But when Mike told me how the material for his film Northwest Passage, to be premiered tomorrow night at Cinema 21, was from the ‘seminal period of 1978 – 1983’, that was, well, music to my ears.
Everyone is going to have a certain fondness for what happened in their youth, but even people who were not young in that era have agreed with me about it. Mike pointed out that the sound of Nirvana, so singular to many, have its roots in the Wipers, in a very obvious way and nothing they wished to hide. I recall when I first heard Nirvana – I was 3000 miles away from the Pacific Northwest, but I thought gee, this sure sounds like someone I knew.
While I was invested before 1978, 1983 also marks the year I bailed. That’s the year I left the record business and changed ‘careers’ – or rather, got one. As an import buyer, I felt I wasn’t paid very much for having to keep up on so much. After all, Aquarius Records back then was a cultural Grand Central and my job was taking some kind of pulse on London, Berlin or Tokyo and bringing it back to SF.
That pulse by 1983 had changed – not necessarily for the worse, just different, and in fact for many people, it would be better. The die had been cast and the makings of a hundred different future genres were in play. We had just passed through a brief time, as Mike pointed out, in which few labels had yet been applied. We all played together and we belonged to no specific camps. Once the camps started being established, I intuitively wanted out.
I still liked the music, but it didn’t carry the same kind of weight. Any kind of creative activity, to stay involved, requires commitment. But I still held on to art.