Note: To see what the 5 Minute Month is all about, click here to read the first post in the series.
One of my little pleasures this weekend, as I’ve worked mainly on grading and course prep for the final two-week push of our academic year, has been listening to Daft Punk’s latest album, Random Access Memories. I became a fan of Daft Punk back in college, oh, none of your business years ago, and never tire of listening to their music; it’s rare that I put together a running or workout mix that doesn’t include at least one Daft Punk track or remixed track in it.
Random Access Memories is a bit of a departure from Daft Punk’s typical style, in that it embraces a warmer, gentler, unabashedly human tone. If one “Human After All,” one of their earlier hits, seemed almost to lament the human-ness of the duo (Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo and Thomas Bangalter), tracks such as “The Game of Love” and “Touch” embrace the bittersweet nature of love, loss and nostalgia. While Daft Punk’s work always contains echoes of forbears such as Kraftwerk, RAM finds the duo embracing 70s electronica, synth-pop, and disco with unabashed joy in open celebration of musical and stylistic influences that many in the mainstream have long forgotten (such as synthesizer pioneer Giorgio Moroder and weep-rock icon Paul Williams).
Listening to the album the first time through, I was transported back to my own encounters with music of this era, through a regional radio station near the area where I grew up. Some time in the early 90s, when I was still fairly young, they began a program called “Saturday Night at the 70s,” which presented 5 hours of disco, pop, r&b, and rock from the decade. I had never really been exposed to this music before — my parents primarily listened to late 50s/early 60s pop, or “adult contemporary,” which meant that I wasn’t listening to much that was interesting. It as through this program that I first heard the likes of Blondie, The Sugar Hill Gang, Led Zeppelin, The Who, Black Sabbath, and many, many more — some good, some great, some laughable, but interesting all the same. I listened to this station on my am/fm walkman, in the basement, usually while reading books or playing video games, and I can still remember hearing “Paranoid” for the very first time on that program. Listening to Random Access Memories brought all of those moments back to me again, and I thoroughly enjoyed the trip.
Here’s the album, for those who have the time to give it a listen:
Word count: about 430
Time: about 10 minutes