The modern playlist is the descendant of the mix tape. And like my mix tapes, I make a significant effort to make sure they are right—and by right, I mean that there is a certain cohesion and shared texture that inspires me. What I love about digital versus tape is the great flexibility for experimentation (though, sometimes I do miss walking around Manhattan with my old yellow cassette Sports Walkman).
Thirty years ago, tonight, the world bid farewell to 1990. It was quite the year for me.
I will never forget how 1990 started: I was working for The New York City Department of Parks and Recreation Parks Enforcement Patrol (PEP) and was stationed alone in Tompkins Square Park at the stroke of midnight. PEP was part of the disgusting war, fostered by gentrification (i.e., the wealthy), on homeless people. PEP’s presence in Tompkins Square Park was part of the aftermath of the 1988 riots. I am deeply ashamed of essentially working against the homeless and working indirectly for the gentrifiers, but I will save that for another blog entry.
My life changed a lot in 1990, notably marked by a devastating heartbreak. Thirty years later, I reflect on this key year in my life with the music that defined the time as I am once again facing devastating heartbreak. Not all of the songs on this playlist are from 1990; some are from 1989 and 1991, but they embody what I was going through, the heartache with moments of exuberance.
On December 31, 1990, I was thankfully off from my job with PEP and was able to spend time with my friends. Earlier that week, I had visited Tower Records and picked up the album, Red Hot + Blue, a compilation album from the Red Hot Organization dedicated to fighting AIDS through pop culture. I first listened to the album while getting ready to go out for the coming New Year. The last song, “Do I Love You?” by Aztec Camera was perhaps the best way to conclude that year as well as 2020.
I am proud that I was able to put this playlist together. Just a few years ago, I could not listen to some of these songs because of the memories they stirred. Today I embrace them as a comprehensive part of the soundtrack of my life.
“Let The Beat Hit ‘Em” by Lisa Lisa and Cult Jam from Clivillés and Cole Greatest Hits
“Bad Beats Suite” by Sybil from Walk on By
“I Wanna Be Where You Are” by Sybil from Walk on By
“Power of Love” by Deee-Lite from World Clique
“Strike it Up” by Black Box from Dreamland
“That’s The Way of the World” by D Mob from That’s The Way of the World”
“Dancing On The Fire” by India from Breaking Night
“The Breeze” by Two Without Hats from Two Without Hats
“Together Forever” by Lisette Melendez from Pure 80’s Dance
“Come Into My House” by Queen Latifah from All Hail The Queen
“Good Life” by Inner City from Good Life
“Vogue” by Madonna from I’m Breathless: Music from and Inspired by the Film Dick Tracy
“A Dream’s a Dream” by Soul II Soul from Vol. 2, A New Decade
“Body To Body” by 2 In a Room from Wiggle It
“Tell Me Why (Remix)” by Expose from Arista Heritage Series: Expose
“Love Will Never Do (Without You)” by Janet Jackson from Rhythm Nation
“Someone In The Dark” by TKA from Scars of Love
“Promise Me” by The Cover Girls from Show Me
“To Be With You” by Noel from Noel
“Here We Are” by Gloria Estefan from Cuts Both Ways
“Love Will Lead You Back” by Taylor Dayne from Can’t Fight Fate
“I Don’t Have the Heart” by James Ingram from It’s Real
“Till the End of Time” by Mariah Carey from Emotions
“The Wind” by Mariah Carey from Emotions
“Do I Love You?” by Aztec Camera from Red Hot + Blue