Memory is perplexing, and unfair. I can’t remember the funniest thing my kids did just last week but I can recall countless inane moments from thirty years ago in vivid detail. I’d much rather have gloriously detailed memories of my children’s lives than the pointless goings-on of a grade five geography class back in 1983, never mind all the stupid, hormonally-confused shit I did in high school. And I’m not talking about the awkward romantic schlock that teen nostalgia movies throw up like listeria laced macaroni salad at a company picnic. I never had those. I’m talking the truly embarrassing or awful things that were done to me or I did to others. How I’d love to forget all of that crap.
Really, though, it’s the absurd stuff I remember that frustrates me most. Those memories that leave you wondering, “Why in the hell do I remember this?” Like the high school dance where I first heard this song. Why do I remember that at all? It’s just clogging up valuable brain storage, as far as I’m concerned. Storage better used remembering the hilarious things my kids say.
Let’s face it, high school dances were essentially government sanctioned mating rituals. Oh sure, they were a great way to hang with your friends and burn off some energy. Or test your stones by trying to sneak in without alerting the supervising teachers to the fact you’d just chugged three beers behind the dumpster next to the track field. But mostly you were there for the slow dances, those cheesy ballads where you and your girlfriend got to dance with full, frontal body contact in a dark, “chaperoned” gymnasium. Or, for those of us without the aforementioned girlfriend, getting the chance to possibly dance with someone you really, REALLY wanted to be your girlfriend but whom didn’t reciprocate the interest so you’d ask them to dance to a song you didn’t yet understand was totally about stalking, praying she would accept out of pity, deluding yourself that her saying yes was proof you still might have a shot but not being able to fully appreciate that ridiculous possibility because you were straining to conceal the bulge in your pants while simultaneously trying to dance close enough to feel even the slightest pressure of her breasts against your chest. OK, that sounds kind of creepy in this #metoo world, but that was courtship in the eighties. Besides nobody had invented grinding or twerking yet and porn still required heaps of effort, luck, or an older brother to view.
Not to say that fast dancing was unappreciated. There remained ample desire to show off our best air guitar licks when AC/DC was inevitably played. And the girls loved dance music, though in those days that meant Madonna, Prince, and C & C Music Factory rather than the latest club mixes spun by some dude in a mouse head or various other emcees. But the biggest draws between slow song grope fests were the handful of songs that incited group oriented dance frenzies. Typically these were songs that incorporated dramatic displays of coordinated gyrations, a primitive line dancing if you will, such as “Shout” or enabled rebellious lyric modification to explicit exultations of profanity the teachers were powerless to stop, such as “Mony Mony”. Sometimes it was just punk and no such modifications were necessary, such as with “Add it up”.
There were, however, a few special moments when the mood was just right and a new hit song would be played inspiring an explosion of collective joy and comradery across huge swaths of the dance floor. Such was the case the very first time I heard this song. Within milliseconds of the first keyboard notes piercing the gymnasium, all my friends, both close and extended, burst forth in a scream of excitement and approval. We would spend the next four and a half minutes in a giant, amoebic circle, arms draped around the shoulders of those on either side of us, swaying to the rhythm and belting out the words as if this song embodied the very essence of our lives. I improvised as best I could, quickly learning the chorus and jumping in when appropriate lost in wonder the entire time. It was amazing.
I remember basking in the afterglow of that magical experience for the rest of the dance, promising myself that as soon as I got home I would find myself a copy of this incredible new song and listen to it over and over and over, reliving every second of that fantastic dance experience. I would find that song the next day, easy enough. It became a staple of radio (and school dances) for months and years to come and seemed to be played hourly that next day. I have no idea how I’d never heard it before. And I remember my reaction the second time I ever heard it. And the third time. And the fourth time. I hated it! It was awful. A tacky, eighties, hair metal cliché of a song with a ridiculous music video to boot. Even at a time when both these things were very much in vogue and very much in my wheelhouse, I cringed at this song like I’d accidentally walked in on someone having a robust bowel movement. How could this be the same song I heard that night at the school dance? I’m still baffled by the whole experience.
Nonetheless, despite that peculiar, fond memory, this remains one of my least favourite songs and I’m going to kick off your weekend with it because I know damn well many of you secretly still love it. In honour of erotic dancing on automobile hoods and silly stage names (hello Tawny Kitaen), I give you the great, and sometimes loathed, “Here I Go Again” from the 1982 Whitesnake ablum Saints & Sinners then re-recorded for their 1987 self-titled album before being re-recorded yet again for radio release. That’s the version we all know. Third time’s the charm!
Official 1987 Video:
Original 1982 Version: