Monday, September 26, 2016

freakboy muses music: Julie Brown

TV Entertainment Monthly, June 1989.
The article that started it all
It was the summer of 1989 and I was flipping through a magazine that cable t.v. providers used to send in the days before on-screen guides.  There was an article about a show on MTV where a woman poked fun at music videos.  It sounded amusing, plus the article also mentioned a film with the unique and somewhat provocative title of EARTH GIRLS ARE EASY, which pretty much guaranteed I was going to watch the series mentioned.

Very shortly after reading this article, I sat down to watch my first episode of JUST SAY JULIE, with Miss Julie Brown.  Not only did this episode include one of my favorite soap opera staples, an evil twin, the plot also involved giving Linda Blair a home lobotomy and Julie Brown's song THE HOMECOMING QUEEN'S GOT A GUN.  Needless to say, I was hooked on Just Say Julie and became obsessed with finding her entertaining music! 

1987 Sire Records
I actually originally bought it on cassette.
1989 Sire Records/Reprise Records 
It's a terrifically fun film!
It wasn't long before I found her 1987 album TRAPPED IN THE BODY OF A WHITE GIRL and the soundtrack to Earth Girls Are Easy, which only had two songs by Miss Brown and a cover of the song that inspired the film, but the original, for whatever reason, was not included on the album.  While I was thoroughly entertained with these two albums, and surprised by a serious song or two, I desired to find Miss Brown's 1984 mini-album GODDESS IN PROGRESS.  Little did I suspect this would be a long and arduous journey.

A form letter totally worth reading!
I searched and special ordered Goddess in Progress at several music stores located in nearby cities.  All of these ended with the worst words in the world to my frantic ears....out of print.  In a desperate move, I wrote Miss Brown, in care of MTV, to find out if she had any information on this elusive album, and I'm sure I also expressed my obsessive enjoyment of her show and music.  I did receive a form letter response from my new idol with, tragically, zero info on GIP.  I was disappointed, but the form letter was very amusing and there was also a nice autographed photo included.
It would have been even more awesome if it had been personalized.

1982/1983 Bulletz Records
I wonder if Madonna was inspired by this image
for the back cover of her Like a Virgin album.
My search continued as the 1980's became, like, totally part of history, for sure.  It was 1993 when I was at a music store with a cousin in Grand Island, Nebraska.  Compact Discs were plentiful, but I was on the floor flipping through used records.  As far as I could tell, GIP was only available on vinyl, so this was my primary target.  I sat there flipping and flipping when suddenly Julie Brown caught my eye.  It wasn't what I had been searching for.  It was something unexpected.  It was something that kept my desire to find GIP alive and burning.  This record was a single for the song I LIKE'EM BIG AND STUPID, and it predated GIP.  I was so beyond excited that I stood up and shouted my cousin's name from across the room and then, while holding the record up like a trophy, announced to everyone in the store, "Julie Brown!"  I'm sure my cousin was a little mortified by my demonstrative exuberance, and other customers probably thought I was absolutely nuts, but I was floating on a cloud and really didn't care what other people thought. 

Time went by and, despite that unexpected boost, my searching waned a bit.  I hadn't completely given up, but there was only so many times I could check nearby stores.  Then I moved to Omaha, Nebraska, and on a fateful day in October 1996, I decided it was time to fully resume my quest in a whole new area with completely different stores.  Instead of driving like a manic fool all over the city, I heaved out the enormous Omaha phone book, plopped onto the couch with a relative's dog, and started calling used record stores.  After striking out a few times, I called Dirt Cheap Recycled Sounds and asked if they had the object of my desire and the guy on the phone said he would check.  I held my hand over the receiver and said to the dog beside me, "They won't have it."  After what felt like an eternity, the guy came back on the phone and casually announced that they did have Julie Brown: Goddess in Progress.  He was unaware of the implosion he had just caused in my brain as I sat in stunned silence, collecting myself.  Finally, I managed to speak again, double checking the information I thought I heard.  To my utter amazement, the guy confirmed the title!

Dirt Cheap Recycled Sounds, Omaha, NE.
I think it closed up a long time ago.
Hopefully I kept my cool (yeah, right) as I asked about store hours and other details.  Then I told the guy I would be right there.  After hanging up the phone I went koo-koo bananas!  I hollered in joy while running around grabbing my billfold and keys.  The dog was racing around with me, barking in excitement.  I put on my shoes, got in the car and headed to downtown Omaha from 96th Street.  I had never been downtown by myself, so this was an adventure, but I had a mission to complete.  Nothing was going to stop me! 

I don't know how I found my way downtown without any problems.  Maybe I had experienced a temporary form of ESP, or maybe I simply paid attention.  Either way, I walked into Dirt Cheap Recycled Sounds and gave a cursory look around the store to calm down a little before approaching the counter.  I eventually informed the guy of my mission and he seemed surprised to see me so soon, which amused me.  

1984 Rhino Records
I still, on occasion, find myself staring at it in wonder.
The guy pulled out an unopened copy of Julie Brown: Goddess in Progress and handed it to me as the heavens parted with a beam of warm light and the angels sang in triumph, at least in my mind.  I stared at the purple-ish-pink cover in utterly pleased disbelief.  Seven years of searching all came down to this singular moment in downtown Omaha, NE, but it wasn't over yet.  I paid, profusely thanked the guy, and hurried to my car.  How I got back to 96th Street without causing a major accident is beyond me, considering I was constantly looking over at the record and touching it to make sure it was really real.

Soon enough, I was sprawled out on my bed, eyes closed, headphones on while Miss Brown sang five brilliantly clever, funny songs just for me.  Well, it felt like that anyway, especially since the record was unopened, until I opened it, so it also felt like this particular copy had been waiting for me since 1984.  

Yes, I was (am) a total geek-fanboy, and two of the five songs were especially special because I had never heard them before then.  "Will I Make It Through The Eighties" and "Earth Girls Are Easy" gave me such a musically euphoric high that I probably have yet to come completely down 20 years later!  

I suppose you think that finding and listening to this long sought after mini-album would be the end of this tale, and you are right.  Well, as far as this post goes anyway, but there are other tales I could tell involving Miss Julie Brown's awesome music, but those will have to wait for another day.

Thank you for reading this lengthy, obsessive, music-related post! 

Freak Out, 

P.S.  Here is a post from earlier this year where I obsess over a very popular book and television series...

P.P.S.  If all goes according to plan, October's blog theme will be, I know what scares me...!


  1. John ... Excellent Blog. Music is definitely your key in so many ways. You painted an amazing picture of that piece of your life. It was illuminating! Thank You for Sharing!

    1. Thank you, Pete!
      This music journey is one I wouldn't change, even the 7 year wait!

  2. I remember Julie Brown and her MTV stint from guest hosting in the late 80s to her JUST SAY JULIE show,for she was a witty and clever lady who was reminiscent of a petite Cassandra Peterson and it's surprising how her career never quite took off after EARTH GIRLS ARE EASY.

    1. Thank you for you comment, and I glad you remembered her! Ironically, Cassandra Peterson appeared on an episode of Just Say Julie!
      Perhaps Julie Brown's career has never been in the mainstream, but she's still entertaining her fans online. She even released another album a few years ago!