Some songs are like time machines: they can transport you through the years. Living Colour’s “Broken Hearts” is one such song. But in stark contrast to a song like “Don’t You Forget About Me,” “Broken Hearts” takes me to a place beyond those raging and changing hormones, a place to where I’d finally found friends that would last a lifetime, a place where I felt like a grown-up for the first time. Indeed, listening to “Broken Hearts” brings back some very specific memories.
Friday or Saturday nights in the spring, tenth or eleventh grade. I had my drivers license and would get permission from my folks to take out the white Nissan Stanza. That car had a stereo tape deck. I’d pop in my Living Colour Vivid album, roll down the window and then drive down the length of Tampa Avenue from Rinaldi, where we lived, all the way across the Valley to Ventura Blvd to meet my friends at Corbin Bowl. There were countless stop lights along the way and I can remember sitting at one of those lights. The air was warm outside, the sun getting lower in the western skies, the palm trees that line Sherman Way casting long shadows to the east. And “Broken Hearts” playing in the background.
We usually had a petty good sized group at Corbin Bowl. We’d bowl, of course, but I don’t think that was actually the point. The point was to get together, to hang out, and have a brief taste of a kind of freedom that none of us had ever really experienced before. We didn’t always even meet at the bowling alley, but for some reason, when I hear this song, I am always reminded of being in the car on the way to meet my friends to go bowl.
After bowling we might go back to one of my friend’s houses. More likely, if we were feeling expansive, we might crowd into a booth at Denny’s. It was a wonderful, near-idyllic time, and as the spring of 1989 rolled around, it was going to reach an unusual peak.