Monday, August 24, 2009

Santorini, Greece: An Occasional Series Part II

Last time I wrote about Santorini, I said I would talk about the music. Oh, it was good, but only if you like 80s music. We were in Greece for 1985, 86, and 87 and the music was heavily influenced by the rest of Europe and the UK. This means that we got a lot less of the US singles playing, and more of the hits and artists of the UK.

(To recap: much of my novel is situated on Santorini, Greece. My mother and I lived there for three years when I was a kid. I was 10, 11, and 12. We weren’t there continuously but off and on.)

When we arrived on the island, Frankie Goes To Hollywood’s Relax was all the rage, and the enterprising merchandisers used it to their best advantage. Every shop sold T-shirts with “Relax” on it or “Frankie says Relax.” Judging by the amount of images available on Google when you type "Frankie Says Relax shirt," this is still a popular concept. By I lived it in its real time, man. I had one of these shirts then, too. When I asked my mother what Frankie meant when he sang “Relax don’t do it” she said, “Hmm…um, I think he’s talking about joining the army. Yeah.” I bought it. Joining the army, hmm? Cripes. Anyway this song has remained very special to me because it was everywhere when we first arrived on the island.

I had a long Relax shirt that I wore as a dress, cinched with a belt. I need to dig up some pictures. It was disgustingly 80s but that was the style. I wore this getup on my assistant-tour guide operator job, whereby I would go with our friend Anne, a British expat, on her tour bus guide job and help her. More about Jobs on Friday (I had several).

I distinctly remember hearing “Kiss” by Prince blasting throughout Kamari (sorry no You Tube link, because Prince is an anti-You Tube ARSE) from a disco on the beach. I was on the beach at the time looking at the moon and it was just beautiful. I was allowed to go on the beach in the dark and look at the moon. It was that kind of place.

I also busted a move at the discos. It wasn’t like I went to the discos on my own—I was ten, after all. No, I usually went with my friend Elizabeth, the British daughter of our friend Danai, sister to Daphne who lived on the island full time. Elizabeth and her mother Danai would visit at least once a year. At around two years older, Elizabeth was a very influential for me. More about her at a later date, but know that it was she who let me know in no uncertain terms that I should be a huge Madonna fan. Like a Virgin had just come out, and she had found her God(dess).

While I was merely an impressionable age ten, I knew good music when I heard it. Some other great songs that I remember blasting through the discos were Hungry Like the Wolf, Duran Duran, It’s Called a Heart from Depeche Mode (early era!), UB40’s Red Red Wine, and the insane Last Night A DJ Stole My Life from In Deep. There was a British DJ who worked at the Yellow Donkey disco and he made one of our friends a mix-tape of all that he played and I still have it. My mother and I fondly remember it, and there’s a point on the tap where he breaks in and says, “We’re here at the Yellow Donkey, it’s Saturday night, and we’re open til fooooouuuuurrrr.” That about sums up how it was on the island: staying up late, dancing, and good music as it happened. (Note: I did not stay up til four--usually. But there was an element of free-for-alling that did occur.)

Another memorable artist: Howard Jones and his Things Can Only Get Better. There was some Pointer Sister action in there, but I confess I paid more attention to the Brit Pop stuff, a habit I have continued to today.

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