I attended college from 1990-1994. Beginning with my first Christmas break and lasting until my last, for a month every winter and three months every summer I worked with a fantastic group of people processing loan and credit card payments for an assortment of small banks.
We worked from 2:00 in the morning until the work was done, generally between 8:00 and 9:00 in the morning. It was one of the best jobs of my life, for a few reasons. First, as I mentioned, the people were great. We had great camaraderie, conversations, and pot lucks. Second, the graveyard shift is a great way for a night owl like me to earn money. You sleep all morning & early afternoon, go out at night, then go to work. And third, the job was about numbers and sorting numbers, and that always gave my mind a bit of peace.
One of my favorite aspects of the job was that we could listen to a walkman when processing mail at our workstation. For me, that was about 80% of the job. The other 20% also had music, but the kind that was playing in the entire building, usually an adult-contemporary station called K-BIG. And so I associate music with that particular time of my life.
Back in the early 90s, nighttime radio in LA was still filled with a lot of music, very little talk, and an eclectic mix of music on some stations that didn’t play a lot of variety during the day. My soundtrack for those years was rather rock-based–I listened to a lot of metal and older 80s rock on cassette tape–but when I got tired of that, I turned on KISS-FM, KLOS, and a now defunct station called “Pirate Radio.”
I made a playlist that samples the songs I most associate with this time and place. I created it on Spotify and you can listen to it here. It has a large selection of the songs I remember working to from the radio, both the one in my earphones and the one being broadcast over the speaker system.
I can’t say they’re all great songs, or even good songs. I’m not sure I’d put too many in my top 100 either. But I find each listenable and, for me, powerfully able to transport me to another (younger) time in life.