Dear Ms. Cherry,
About 6 years ago, a lovely twist of fate led to an unexpected encounter on the District Line. You were sitting with your talented daughter Mabel – who at the time, was probably on the brink of starting her own musical odyssey, conversing away in Swedish. Once I got over my temporary fanboy paralysis, I had to do everything in my power to stop myself from busting out these immortal words:
‘Who’s looking good today? Who’s looking good in every way?…’
Because you see, Raw Like Sushi kind of saved me. For a terminally shy, awkward, introverted ‘third culture’ ethnic kid about to start his third school in a new country, in roughly the same amount of years, this album was my gateway to acceptance. When you’re 14, all you really long for is to be seen as cool, to belong, to make that process of fitting-in easy. And while I would never quite figure out how to shake-off my persistent social anxiety, arriving in my hightops and Morrissey quiff, with Buffalo Stance (the soundtrack to my summer) blasting out of my contraband walkman, was enough to get my existence on to the radar of all the right schoolyard cliques.
Fitting-in still required some hard graft though; having to spend copious hours on my bedroom floor, writing out the lyrics to the Raw Like Sushi track-list, carbon paper neatly interspersed between what seemed like a mountain of lined sheets. But I didn’t care. We’d spend hours pouring over the songs, pontificating with my new squad what ‘Buffalo Stance’ actually meant. With all my pseudo poise, and the self-assurance only a clueless teenager could have, I’d make up elaborate explanations of what ‘crocodile feet’ was code for, only for my audience to lap it up. As I gravitated from group to group, I found solace and camaraderie with the ‘Londoners’ – the kids who had mainly grown up in North London, only to have their world’s turned upside down by their parents, forced to move half-way across the continent against their will. Raw Like Sushi became the most unlikeliest of comfort blankets.
Pero chica, mi amiga que dice…
It was a great year to reaffirm our status as The Next Generation. We danced, we sang, we rapped to your lyrics and collectively unleashed ourselves on a mission to find the biggest, baddest fake-gold chain necklaces we could afford, a tribute to your cool Scandi-by-way-of-London street style. I’m convinced that Kisses On the Wind was what triggered the beginnings of my life-long ambition to speak Spanish fluently. Any day now, I promise I will get there.
Going back to that pivotal afternoon in 2014, I doubt I would have been able to find the words to express how much this album means to me. And to this day, I continue to experience a sense of teenage euphoria every time I hear the opening quips to Buffalo Stance, a record that will always own a little piece of my heart.
So thank you again Ms. Cherry. As we celebrate the 30th anniversary of this seminal work, I hope a whole new generation of awkward ‘cool’ kids discovers your inimitable brand of musical genius. Music most certainly sounds better with you in it.
Image courtesy: uDiscover Music
© UMC/Virgin EMI