Finally, more than 2 weeks later I feel ready to write about our Nashville adventure. Although this blog is going to be more of a setup to the trip and why it was so amazing. Strangely enough, what has inspired me to write it was watching some videos of New Kids on the Block from 1990. I don’t know if anyone who wasn’t a part of the phenomenon can understand what it’s like to be a Blockhead, to have been a part of it from nearly the beginning. So I’m going to attempt to explain….
I first discovered New Kids before they really hit it big, in 1988. My twin sister and best friend Abby (@abs1399) were listening to the radio one night in our bedroom, as we often did. And this song came on that got both our attention. We were listening to a lot of R&B type music at that time and this one was different. We were like “Who IS this? I love it!” I may have gotten goosebumps. I was only 13 but I knew instantly something had changed. Of course at that time, I had no idea how this song and discovering this group was going to change my life. The song was “Please Don’t Go Girl” and the group was of course New Kids on the Block. We were on a mission to find out more about this group and hear more of their music ASAP. I can’t remember how many days later it was, probably on the weekly grocery shopping trip with our mom. What I remember is rushing to the magazine rack to see if New Kids on the Block were in any of the magazines. We checked magazines like Word Up! first before 16 and Tiger Beat. Finally, in 16 we found an article and poster about New Kids. Our first reaction: “They’re white!” 🙂 I’ll admit I thought they were going to be a group like New Edition. Well, they were but white. The article included a little write-up about each member. That first picture was actually from the first album so was a couple of years old at that point. Immediately, my sister fell in love with Jordan. 😉 I had thought I was going to go for the one who sang lead on Please Don’t Go Girl but in that first picture, he looked something like an alien. Because of that first picture, I fell for Donnie Wahlberg instead. Here is that picture:
Not long after this discovery, we talked our mom into buying us the Hangin’ Tough album. Actually it was a cassette at that time. 😉 Without a doubt, it was the best album my 13-year-old ears had ever heard. By this point, we are both completely smitten with the entire group. I’ve become a Donnie girl and Abby is a Jordan girl. We listened to this album almost constantly. It didn’t take long for the rest of the world to catch on and pretty soon, New Kids were in all of the teen magazines. We bought copies of every magazine that mentioned the five fabulous guys from Boston. At some point after a couple of months, we finally saw them actually move. You see, our family didn’t have cable TV so we weren’t able to see the videos on MTV. The first time we saw them move was a performance of “Please Don’t Go Girl” on Soul Train. I remember staying up late, about to overflow with excitement at the prospect of seeing the guys on TV. And when we did…let’s just say the love only grew. First of all, Joe didn’t look like an alien anymore. In his fedora, Batman shirt & black leather vest, he was fine, as we said back in the day. I fell a little bit in love with him that night, even if he was lip-synching. But Donnie was in leather pants so I wasn’t exactly swayed into realizing I was a Joe girl at heart just yet. 😉 I have tried to find video of that Soul Train performance on YouTube but haven’t seen it. 😦 I have it on VHS at least so I can still watch it. If anyone finds it on YouTube please let me know!
Anyway, I digress. Over the next few months, we collected posters, magazines and performances on regular TV. And finally, the video for “Please Don’t Go Girl” was on Friday Night Videos. 🙂 New Kids were already changing my life. To say that they were my first love is an understatement. This is deeply personal but they saved my life. I hesitate to tell this but I want people to understand how much these guys mean to me. When I was 13, I was depressed and had contemplated suicide. Quiet and shy in school, I didn’t have a lot of friends and books were my escape. I was reading a lot of Dean Koontz and had begun to think about writing my own stories. Since the books I read didn’t often end the way I wanted, I wanted to write my own but I didn’t believe in myself at all, that I was good enough to do it. Well, when New Kids came along, they talked a lot about how dreams can come true, how their coming together was destiny. I wholeheartedly believed them and eventually, came to believe in myself. It took a couple of years before I actually did it, but finally in 1990 I started writing the story that had been building inside me since I’d first discovered New Kids. At the age of 14, I started writing and I don’t think I would have if it hadn’t been for them and the inspiration they provided me. Yes, the characters are based on the guys and the female characters are based on myself and my friends. Essentially it’s fan fiction. But to me, it’s so much more. The story kept going through 6 books that I wrote throughout my high school and college years. I didn’t even stop when New Kids broke up in 1994 because 1) I didn’t want to believe they broke up and 2) my story wasn’t over. They continued to inspire me for two years afterward. I stopped writing when I met my husband but that’s another story!
We never met New Kids until 2009 and I’ve met them all a couple of times since then, but have never expressed to them how much they mean to me, how they led me to chase my dream of becoming a writer. Perhaps I should. After all, their reunion in 2008 inspired my own reunion story of my original characters. Both the real NKOTB reunion and my story are still going strong. I am immensely proud of who I am, the group I love and my writing. So, in a weird way, this was the set up for the blog about the Nashville trip! Phew! I didn’t know I was going to go on so long. Obviously, this will be a multi-part blog. Please feel free to leave feedback and thanks for reading. 🙂