American Top 40 PastBlast, 10/18/86: Janet Jackson, “When I Think of You”

Shortly after I moved to Champaign-Urbana in August of 86, I bought a point-and-shoot camera with some of my graduation gift money. While I’ve never been the shutterbug my wife is, I have managed to record the occasional moment, notable or otherwise. That fall, it looks like I mostly kept an eye out for sights that friends back in Kentucky might appreciate, often as inside references. For instance, this was for my friend Kathy Jo, who often went by KJ:

To call someone on-campus at Transy, you just had to dial the last four digits, which always began with an 8. The number on this seemingly random sign in a dorm window was the same as my friend Suzanne’s extension during my senior year. I likely discovered it on my way to the dining hall where I took my meals that fall (no, I didn’t recall whose number this was, though Suzanne would have been my first guess—I looked it up in the 85-86 campus directory I still have):

And here’s an iconic campus scene I hadn’t had the opportunity to witness firsthand at my tiny college:

It hasn’t been all that long since I browsed through these photos. As I was thinking yesterday about possibly including some in this post, one image came to mind, and in it, I thought I visualized an irritating detail. The picture is the one you see at the top, of the desk and shelf space in my cubby of a dorm room, apparently taken on 10/1/86. You are indeed looking at almost the entire length of the room—the door was at one corner, and that’s the bottom of the window, above the cooling/heating unit, on the right edge. And yes, what I feared was true. Long-time readers may notice it—it’s that decorative plate on the shelf, the plate I claimed back in February was something I’d gotten on my 25th birthday, well over two years in the future. 

Irritating, because now I have to deal with not remembering who gave me the plate (which I clearly treasure), and when, and why. Irritating, because I have to wonder what, if anything, I chose instead on 2/13/89. Irritating, because I’ve conflated two very separate events. Irritating, because I don’t want to be faced with the evidence of self-mythologizing—what else have I gotten wrong from misplaced confidence in my ability to recall the events of the long-gone past? Occasionally, in going through the items I still have, I discover tidbits that would have allowed me greater accuracy in some of my earlier posts—this time, though, the error was egregious.

From time to time I get asked, “How do you remember all this junk?” A partial answer is that apparently sometimes I don’t. Which leads to this: when I think of someone, or something that I believe happened, how can I be sure I’m getting the broad outline, much less any details, right? I’m going to try not to sweat it too much, but I clearly need to be appropriately humble.

Miss Jackson is in her second week at the top with the first of her ten #1s. She made a lot of very good music, but I’m inclined to say “When I Think of You” is my favorite (I’ll admit I’m by far most familiar with the singles from her first two albums). It’s another of those songs where I hear and feel the joy, getting swept along on a very pleasant four-and-a-half minute ride.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: