Fair-weather sports fans no doubt anger the die-hards. I was a fair-weather fan. I understood baseball (unlike football), because I'd been tutored. My dad was not a sports fan. My first husband taught me about baseball, although hearing it on the radio was not quite the same as watching a game. I learned what a double-play was, and an RBI. I learned that Rod Carew was the best player the Twins ever had (I now disagree).
Having sons who were baseball (or baseball card) aficionados helped nudge me in 1987. From buying pack-upon-pack of Topps Bubble Gum, I learned who the best players on each team were (or whose cards were the hottest, at least). I learned that rookie cards are great "gets". I began paying attention to the box scores in the newspaper. Amazingly, our hapless Twins were on a tear that year. So, I began watching. There was a Twins Channel on our cable system, so instead of tuning in to Cheers or Unsolved Mysteries, I sank into Minnesota Twins fanaticism. I was still working second shift, so I missed some games (I didn't quite resort to recording them on our VCR), but if the game was important, I switched shifts with another girl so I could have the night off to watch the game. Yes. I actually did. Gary Gaetti, Kent Hrbek, Kirby (of course), Dan Gladden; our star pitcher, Frank Viola. Our skinny shortstop, Greg Gagne, who never failed to pop up. Steve Lombardozzi was not the world's best second baseman, but second base is a rather second-tier position, so....Tim Laudner, our catcher.
It was a cold October evening when an actual miracle occurred. The Minnesota Twins won the world series! I had so much adrenaline coursing through my veins, I barely slept that night. And yes, I had a Homer Hankie. 1987 began my odyssey of following the Twins for more or less six years. They won again in 1991, barely (but barely still counts), thanks to Jack Morris. Then things went downhill, and I moved on with my life. By then I'd begun what I didn't know at the time would be my life-long career. It does help to have a skill, I've learned. Now I spend my days teaching others how to have that skill. And to think I only got hired for that job because someone else dropped out. Thanks, Someone, I guess.
Musically, 1987 was the year I discovered country music again. I don't remember how I stumbled upon it. I think I was sitting in my car in front of my kids' elementary school and I didn't like the song playing on Y93, so I switched the channel out of irritation. I heard something I liked. I do believe it was this:
It's funny how an act that proved to be short-lasting is what drew me back into country music. I drove to Musicland and purchased two cassette tapes; one by the Sweethearts of the Rodeo and one by this act:
The O'Kanes also didn't last.
As I cleaned my house on Saturdays, I clicked those cassettes into my boom box and carried them around with me.
That's how I relearned country music.
The other artist who caught my attention was:
Here are the artists I'd never heard of:
The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band
Ricky Van Shelton
Foster and Lloyd
Earl Thomas Conley
Once again, as country was wont to do, it blindsided me.
I discovered there was a country bar only about six blocks from my house. And it featured live bands! I had been so immersed in MTV, I'd missed it. The new Friday night routine was to get dressed up in Levis and a spangled shirt (sometimes with a neckerchief) and a puff of perfume and cruise down to Dakota Lounge to...of all things, dance!
Thus began my country dance phase.
Phases are interesting, in hindsight. I've had so many phases in my life -- things I couldn't get enough of -- until I could. I wouldn't give any of those phases back, because I learned something from all of them, and carried away valuable treasures. I loved observing the patrons of the Dakota Lounge and I learned a lot about human nature. I'd been so sheltered! I was a naive waif, but it wasn't my fault. Unfortunate family circumstances stopped me from venturing into the world...or at least they only allowed me to dip one toe into the waters of life. I was a late bloomer who'd only lived life inside my head.
I, sometime in late 1987, as I was celebrating the Twins' improbable victory, chanced upon things like this:
(Sadly, there is no live performance video to be found, but I loved this song, which was written by Rodney Crowell)
Apparently there exists a trend of not featuring live videos from 1987, but I wanted to include this song in all its glory:
At last - live!
I don't think I've ever featured a Ricky Van Shelton video in any of my posts. This is not my favorite (there are so many better RVS songs), but shoot:
Restless Heart (Larry Stewart was such a cutie):
The hardest song ever to dance to -- try to capture the beat -- it's impossible. Still a classic, however:
(Thanks, Mom and Dad for cluing in a neophyte who thought she was the country music expert)
I really miss Randy. I know he's still here, but he's not, really. I love Randy.
In 1987 I was thirty-two years old and learning. I learned about baseball and I re-learned country music. I was a mom. That was my Number One. My kids probably don't realize it because they've forgotten. I still had my parents and I had my kids.
1987 was the sweet spot.