Tag Archives: Richard Marx

Guilty Pleasure: Secret Music of My Misspent Youth


I have a confession to make.

I secretly love soupy 1980s ballads of the Richard Marx, Kenny Loggins variety.

I know.

This shreds your image of me as a cool, SUV-driving, mid-to-upper-40s suburban yoga-teaching mother.

Egads, or does it confirm it???

WAIT! I went to The Black Keys concert a month ago! My neck hurt the next morning from all my native, white, twerk-free, head-bang dancing. I drank a beer while I was on a diet cleanse! I HAVE PICTURES!!!

this is me and my boyfriend from New Jersey during one of his sets. I had to rush the stage. he's playing it cool. pretending i'm not there. ... so typical.

this is me and my boyfriend from New Jersey during one of his sets. I had to rush the stage. he’s playing it cool. pretending i’m not there. … so typical.

I blame iTunes Radio.

Apple’s iPhone friend, Siri, and I have a personal relationship.

One day, I was feeling all … stupid and I asked him (I made Siri a man — hell, I’m surrounded by them, no sense pretending to have a female always on hand to hang with and help me with anything…) to play me some soft rock from the 1980s.

After we got through

(Which is a song I would play again and again and again [rewinding the tape with the “sound gap search” setting on] in the darkness of my bedroom during my pre-senior summer in high school after I was dumped by a boy who lived across town. I remember my mother coming into my shaded room and sitting at the foot of my bed while I nursed my pity. She put her hand on my shoulder. I opened my red-rimmed, tear-soaked eyes and she said to me, “Oh honey… How is Brad?” and it was like a freakin’ stab to my spleen. There was no support from her in these moments; it was all too tempting, too delicious for her. I had no secrets: I would come home overwhelmed with the Hate of the Day and talk about it to her. She could hone in on my pain like a bloodhound seeking a predator but she was always impassive. Nevertheless, interested in connecting in some manner, I’d spill my guts if I was dumped by a guy (which was infrequent because not many boys liked me) or passed over or rejected by a friend for another person. Days later, in the depths of my rejection, she would ask about these people. She’d fix her eyes on me, set her jaw and say, “How is Bipsy Carmichael? I haven’t heard from her in a while…?” I will never understand her, my mother.)


So hearing that song by Phil these days has sort of a different effect on me; I don’t pine for Brad anymore — I’ve got three boys and a wonderful husband. Besides, Brad is dead now. Ten years ago he wrapped his car around a tree somewhere in Georgia after a night of drinking leaving behind a young wife and two little kids. Bummer, I know. I was saddened by the news.

Next, on iTunes I heard this:

And my reaction is visceral. I’m suddenly in my best friend’s basement watching Friday Night Videos and wondering if I’d ever meet a guy like Richard Marx: who could sing with a smoky voice and play piano and have lots of hair like that (which I even knew at the time was a little too much hair…).

Get with me now — at 2:40:

To stoppppp feeeeeeling this waaaaay-ahaa-heeey-ay’haay….

Hold on to the niiihhiightssss….

Hold on to the mem-orieeeeeees….

If only I could giiiiii-iiiive y’ moooooooor-huh…

Oh…. that hair. Too much. But he was so cute and talented. That piano. That voice…. those arms…. WAIT!!! BACK UP…. 2:36… HIS ARMS!!! 2:56 … My God! Give that man a sandwich! My biceps are bigger than his! I think my wrists are bigger than his biceps.

And then there’s a chord change at 3:06 and I have to say: It ruined it for me. It went from a power love ballad about staying young and lovers and then … it developed into a strange mix of minors and sharps leading down a path of narcissism, codependent awareness and self-help.

Well I think that I’ve been true to everybody else but me-eee…

And the way I feel about you makes my heart long to be free …


Every time I look into your eyes I’m helplessly aware

That the someone I’ve been searching for is RIGHT THERE !!!!!

(guitar scream!!!)

And then it just confuses the hell out of me because I can’t tell if he’s coming or going… but he continues to sing and we get lost in the meaning of it all and decide it doesn’t matter anymore. ARMS UP, PEOPLE! SWAY WITH THAT GUITAR!

Wooooah woooha aaaaaaaaaa oooohooooo ohhhhh….

Hold on to the niiiiiiiiiights….

So then there’s my ultimate favorite, the one that really needs no picking apart (other than at the styles of the 1980s…) the one thing I will say about these early days of mockumentary videos is that I bristle now about the supposed fakeness of this moment being caught, “for real” this time. And I HATE synth drums and the insistence this video imposes upon the viewer and the listener that the drums are anything but synthesized… but let’s not bicker and argue, for Kenny is waiting… in a gigantic charcoal-smeared jumpsuit suit…

Now here’s the thing. I LOVED this song. I remember in whatever grade I was in, attending a dance with my friend and swaying in the dark, alone, by myself, to this song. And watching all the other students make out on the dance floor to the complete sensual, provocative ballad Kenny Loggins would just belt out of his little body.

I never appreciated Kenny Loggins as a MAN in those days. I used to think, “Gah. What a poser [or whatever I would’ve said back then …. wait, I’ll channel] … What a lame-o. Such a hoser, his music is too froofy [whatever the hell that meant] for me.” But I was secretly IN LOVE with this song. I didn’t ever appreciate “Footloose” or the styles it ushered into our collective consciousness: shoulder pads, leg warmers, headbands worn on the forehead, too much eye make-up — but I will say this: I had big short hair.

Anyway… Kenny brought it.

Say what you want about his shoulder pads, I’ve said plenty (and that terrifically horrid suit he’s wearing), but the dude has pipes.

There are other songs I’ll recall after they’ve been foisted on me by iTunes. I will probably save writing about them for my book that I’m pretending I’ll never write.

Thank you.

ps – thanks for swinging by and reading anything I write these days. I admit I’m out of practice and I really miss it. My life is abundantly busy these days with the yoga teaching, family life and the dogs, so when I manage to squeak something out, it’s because I really want to share it with you (and my kids, should they ever stumble upon my blog one day when I’m dusty and old…).