The Columbia Music Club

So, I wanted to hear more from Sting, the Police, U2, Fleetwood Mac and the Eurythmics, but I barely had enough money for shoes. What was I going to do? I wasn’t old enough to get a job according to my mom. I needed cassettes. I just had to have them. Well, it wasn’t indentured servitude.

I persuaded my mom to let me have an allowance if I saved her an equal amount on groceries. Talk about clipping coupons! We would go to the grocery store and she marveled at my ingenuity. I would make the butcher trim the fat before he put the meat on the scale. I added meal to the meat to make more hamburgers. I found the sale items hidden in bottom shelves and concealed crevices. I would wait to buy until things would have a price drop. Then, there were the coupons. I only clipped the coupons for items that we used. It was great.

She would smile and hand me some of the money which I used to buy cassettes. I loved music. My first love affair was my mom’s music, Chopin, Bach and all of those men. But then, she came on the scene–Cyndi Lauper. I used to hear her songs in my head as I walked around the neighborhood. “Time After Time,” “Girls Just Want to Have Fun,” and “True Colors” made me forget how awkward I felt and how I wondered about my dad who had died.

The Columbia Music Club made it all possible. You sent in a penny and they sent you 12 full length albums back. Then, after that every month you could buy one album for like $10 or something and then get some for a dollar. I made this collection. Sony came out with the Walkman, and then the music would go everywhere with you. This was before iTunes and playlists. If you wanted a long jam, you had to assemble it yourself.

So, I made mix tapes. I still had one pair of shoes, but it did not matter with Bono singing “Bad” in my contented ears.

When I turned 16, I got my first job at McDonald’s. Finally, I had a little serious money of my own. I had to buy some makeup for the job and some stuff for the house, but I bought some clothes to wear when I wasn’t on the job. I was like Cyndi Lauper, Cuban style. Man. It is so funny. I just wish that I could find the pictures because not even I believe that I went through that phase. Think of big earrings, scarves and lots of bangles. I had the face and body of Carmen and the Lauper look.

I listened to everything: Metallica, Michael Jackson, Lionel Richie, Depeche Mode and all of these bands that caught my heart and did not let go. It’s so easy now with an internet connection to discover new music, but back then, it helped to be in the Club. Listening to that variety kept me open to new experiences and new people. I just couldn’t wait to hear the next new artist and try to figure out the pieces on my mom’s piano. My mother enjoyed the music, too. She thought that the drums kept you from hearing the keyboards sometimes, but she would smile.

1 thought on “The Columbia Music Club

  1. Ah, cassettes. Now a days (that feels weird saying at 39, but) everything is streaming sights. But none of todays youth will ever realize how difficult it was to catch your favorite song on the radio and hit record and play simultaneously at just the right time to capture your song to add to your “playlist.” I guess that was the original download.

    Great post.


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