Look, I realize I should be so lucky to think that someone from the Van Halen camp is going to bust me on a copyright infringement for using the image above.  So if they come a calling, this is what I would tell them:

I originally wrote this blog post on the 34th anniversary of the release of Van Halen’s 1984 “album.”  I was a dark-skinned, plenty-awkward eighth-grader settling in for a long Illinois winter.  With no discernible basketball talent, no academic prowess and eliciting zero interest from the cute, middle-America girls who hailed from the Arrowhead subdivision and peopled the halls of our junior high, the basement my Dad built out for us threatened to be a pain cave of epic boredom proportions for at least the foreseeable future.  That is, were it not for the crackle of the phonograph needle that succumbed to the majestic OBX polyphonic synthesizer swells of “1984.”  Like watching sunrise over the Earth from outer space, that short, haunting prelude to the massive hit “Jump,” would give way to the dawn of a different day for me.  

Most of us have a favorite “album,” and again I use this word in quotes because the format for delivering music has evolved so drastically over the years.  We can likely all name at least one collection of tunes that formed the audio backdrop for a trajectory change in our lives.  Even hearing just a snippet can hearken back to a summer on the beach, an old flame, or the very essence of our youth.

Coming of age for most of us is a painful metamorphosis cocooned somewhere in the silk of our teenage years.  But for me, the strains of 1984 literally reached out of my boombox and put an electric guitar in my hands.  Then, having summarily equipped me for my calling, those nine songs transformed me, for the very first time, into an autodidact and demonstrated that a dream is meant to be pursued with innocent, if infinitely energized, abandon.  No matter how crazy and audacious the goal, when you smell like teen spirit and have little to lose, it’s your once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to give it all you’ve got.  You may not end up emulating your hero note for note, but that matters a lot less than the amount of growth you’ll experience for strumming along — with enthusiasm, with passion and with purpose. 

Thanks to a career I now love in the mortgage business, I meet a lot of people.  As introductions go, I’ll get an occasional, “Are you from California?”  “Why no…,” I will answer, and often they’ll next ask how I found myself in beautiful Marin County, just north of San Francisco.  “Well, in the late ’80’s, I moved to L.A. to pursue a career as a rock guitar player, like Eddie Van Halen….”  Pause…..  “What???”

Since the album came out, I listen to the 1984 intro every year on my birthday.  First it was on vinyl, then cassette, then CD, then my shuffle and now just my phone.  Regardless, it re-centers me with a time and place that are gone, but with an optimism that will never die.  I would be willing to bet that most of us have a musical bond to that very pivotal moment in our lives when we became much of who we would be for the rest of our lives.  What’s yours?

Might as well jump!

Rob Spinosa
Vice President of Mortgage Lending

Guaranteed Rate
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