Lullabying the Wonder Years

Stevie Wonder - photo via Wikimedia Commons
Stevie Wonder – photo via Wikimedia Commons

When I was 8 years old MTV roared upon the scene, changing forever the way we conceptualize music.  When I think back to the days before music videos, more than any specific memory, there is a soundtrack of all-soul-all-of-the-time carved out in my mind.  Whether it was the car, the park or the day care, the radios were always pumping out Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, Earth, Wind and Fire, Kool and the Gang, Smokey Robinson, and the Pointer Sisters.

But if you came over to my house in those days, there was only one 8 track on constant play:  Diana Ross’s album, Diana.

Diana’s Upside Down You Turn Me was the theme song to my pre-MTV, pre-teen, pre-‘understanding of my role in this world’ days.  She kept me going through my parents’ divorce, my sibling feuds and my ‘you’re grounded again’ blues.

Diana was my constant companion through the many 8 year old nights playing my next door neighbor chess.  We would bet on each game that if we lost we would have to tell that special girl, in our third grade class, that we loved her.  The nights would get later and later, as we played more and more games, so that we would always end with the score being tied and neither having to reveal their feelings.

That is until that day when my secret walked up to me as we were waiting to leave gym class, and asked me if it was true that I was in love with her.  Of course, I just stared at her blankly keeping my panic under wraps.  After school it was only in Diana Ross that I could drown out my inner turmoil.

Later on I would discover Prince, Duran Duran, Bon Jovi, and Run DMC, but the pre-MTV years will always be devoted to that precious 8 track; the only recording we had.  Diana Ross truly was the soundtrack to my Wonder Years.

Check out some more pre-MTV grooves:

What Music ruled your wonder years?


  1. Cool post!
    We didn’t have cable when MTV hit the scene, so I listened mostly to the radio during my wonder years? For me, it was Donna Summer, hip hop (KRS-One “Boogie Down Productions will always get paid/ will take the wackest songs and make them better”), Hall & Oates, Fat Boys, Michael Jackson. I listened to far more hip-hop than I’d care to admit, especially when I lived with my mother, in the South Bronx, less than one mile from where BDP emanated. It was either that or some Lite-FM radio station. She really wasn’t into music much. With my father, I listened to a much broader range of music including Bill Withers, Billy Joel, et al. All of this made for an incredible childhood soundtrack, helping me get through some tough adolescent years. Now I’ll be singing “Upside Down” all morning. 🙂


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