So my earlier blog today and comments about my Vaseline addiction in college got me thinking back to those days. How completely opposite the perception and expectation was among us Prospective Musicians. It’s funny to think about it now, because we were dead set – in our little Music Bubble – that your chances of Making It as a musician could be determined, at least partway, on appearance. I’ll explain what I mean.
Disclaimer: I’m talking about college back in the early 90’s here, so if you don’t get some of my references you’re probably not in my age group. Enjoy anyway. Please.
Okay, first of all, the true Musicians didn’t wear makeup. Usually not ever. At least, the female ones. Guys were another story. That was always a problem for me, since I was definitely NOT blessed with perfect skin and was pretty insecure about it. So I’d actually wear the makeup but spend a long time trying to make it look like I didn’t wear any. Except for my two-week Goth period. That lasted exactly two weeks, until my mom found the lighter I used to melt my eyeliner. She was already freaked enough about the cigarette paper I carried for musical reasons, but that sealed the deal. It was an awkward weekend home. But, now that I think about it, I must have done a passable job – because to this day the Spouse (who I met in college) mentions how great I look without makeup now and then. And he always brings up my ‘natural beauty’ from when we first met. Ha!
In fact, the chicks who didwear lots of makeup were usually the ones that were pegged as Not Going to Make It. Because, you know, a True Musician would have far loftier priorities than matching eye shadow to eyeliner and socks. (Hey, the 80s were still going out. Just watch a couple of early episodes of 90210.) I think I can count on both hands the times in four years that I actually wore noticeable makeup – other than for concerts. A few first dates here and there, the rare occasion I went clubbing (remember – I had much loftier priorities), the time we had a girls’ night to Billy Bob’s for standing room at Alabama (it IS Texas after all), a wild night out in Stockholm while on tour, and the occasional double reed party.
Yes, you did read that right. Double reed parties. Don’t hate. And if you’re one of the few people reading this who knows exactly what I’m talking about – you were there at least once. Hey – get a bunch of people in one room who regularly use lots of knives on persnickety bamboo and it makes for quite a social experience. Trust me. Brass parties may have been cooler and definitely more wild, but not as quirky as the double reed parties. Seriously. Man that sounds lame.
To my credit, I never went for the Birkenstock-and-poncho craze like everyone else seemed to. I mean, that would have been too conformist, right? Ha. Maybe that’s the reason I’m not a Successful Professional Musician today. Hmmm. Poncho rejection leads to career change. Definitely sounds like a New York Times headline. But it’s funny how Young and Dumb we were to think that appearance had anything to do as a forecast of future success. Huh.
And I still wonder what some of those characters are up to today. Either they’re anti-social media, I haven’t found them yet, or they’ve blocked me. I mean, who wouldn’t wonder about the guy who used to drive a hearse? Not for a job – it was his personal vehicle and he was darn proud of it. Or the guy from Philly who had a combo afro-mullet? Or the Spouse’s roommate who had a huge rat that was hung like a horse? Not that I was looking – it was so darned in-your-face that you couldn’t help but notice!
How about you? Any college fashion do’s and don’t’s? I’d love to hear. And if you happen to see a bassoonist driving a hearse…