WTLX Mix Tapes: Side 4, Song 6

Note: This series originally appeared on Facebook in a slightly different form, Aug-Sept 16.

One of my favorite AOR songs in summer 81 was this band’s “No Turning Back.” This one comes from an EP they released the following year. They’re from Australia and were originally named Sherbet.

My worst segue was the one leading into this song; I didn’t fade Rod quite quickly enough, and a note or two of “You’re In My Heart” creeps in after this has already begun.

American Top 40 PastBlast: 8/31/85

In its day this video was considered, if not a technical marvel, at least highly creative. Things advanced fairly quickly, though–the last minute of Michael Jackson’s “Black or White” vid was only six years away. And with CGIs now, well…  (Edited to add: Alas, in 2018 it seems that one can’t link to the original video any more via YouTube.)

Kevin Godley and Lol Creme were part of 10cc in its early days, as well as in that band’s predecessor, Hotlegs. They broke from the group in between its two big US hits, and recorded as a duo for a number of years, finally striking gold in the US (getting to #16; it’s #29 here) with this one. Their greatest mark was left in video direction, however: besides “Cry”, their oeuvre includes “Girls on Film,” “Every Breath You Take,” “Two Tribes,” “Rockit,” and “Everybody Have Fun Tonight.”

American Top 40 PastBlast: 8/25/79

Even though I had the radio on a lot in the late 70s/early 80s, there were still plenty of tunes I heard only on AT40. In many, even most, of those cases, they would be on the chart only a very few weeks. Nonetheless, some became very dear to me very quickly–often it would take just a listen or two to know I REALLY liked a song.

This one could be the best exemplar of the phenomenon. Here, it’s in the middle of a three-week, 39-38-37 run. It played in my head from time to time after that but I don’t know that I heard it again until I rescued a copy of the album Strange Man, Changed Man from a cutout bin a few years later. It’s a fabulous power pop tune, criminally underappreciated. And hey, it’s even got Mike Oldfield playing the tubular bells!

WTLX Mix Tapes: Side 4, Song 5

Note: This series originally appeared on Facebook in a slightly different form, Aug-Sept 16.

I’d like to be able to tell you that this was included at least semi-ironically, but… Like I said earlier, disco was close to untouchable in 85, but I maintained a soft spot for this one. Clearly a ridiculous work, but also pretty darn catchy.

Buddyversary!

My son grew up terrified of dogs, and we never knew why. He’d insist that his friends put them behind a closed door or gate before going in their home, and encountering one in a public setting would send him scurrying. Then, in one afternoon in August 2013, that all changed.

We were holding a back-to-school event at our church; the local Humane Society was invited to show off their adoptables. Our cat had been put down back in the spring; Ben was asking as we drove there about a kitten, or maybe even two: “My friend told me it’s better if they have a playmate,” he offered helpfully. We made no promises, and a quick look over what our friend from the Humane Society had brought showed there were a few kittens and three or so dogs.

Martha and I were individually busy working games and trying to make sure things in our spheres ran as smoothly as possible. I wasn’t paying any attention to what Ben was doing, and was pretty surprised when Martha came over about halfway through the event to point out that Ben was walking one of the dogs! She grabbed her camera to capture the moment. Before the afternoon was over, he was petting and giving this 60+ pound collie mix all sorts of loving.

Our friends at church knew Ben’s history, and of course many of them were now telling us, “You have to take this dog!” We weren’t convinced, but by mid-week, the idea of taking him on for a couple of weeks “as a trial” began to seem inevitable. Four years ago today, we welcomed Buddy (he came named– a bit unfortunate, since this was also one of our nicknames for Ben!) into our home, and he’s become one of the family. Based on how I know my son, I figured there would be a breakthrough moment of some sort eventually. I’m thrilled that we’ve been able to share and enjoy life with the dog responsible for it.

BenBuddy1

WTLX Mix Tapes: Side 4, Song 4

Note: This series originally appeared on Facebook in a slightly different form, Aug-Sept 16.

One of EC’s two US top 40 hits (this got to #36 in Fall 83; “Veronica” reached #19 in 89). The extended metaphor of love-as-a-literary-work completely rocks the house.  I don’t recall seeing this video on MTV during my heavy-watching period; I think I would have remembered the Chuck-and-Di doppelgängers.

From The Archives: Tin Man

The peak of my drama career occurred when I was six years old, on a stage in the basement of the Lancaster Presbyterian Church in late May 1970. Our year-end kindergarten presentation was The Wizard of Oz; I had been selected to play the Tin Woodman (as it’s listed in the program).

The Stanford school system in 1969 (Lincoln County hadn’t consolidated yet) didn’t have a kindergarten program, so when my parents decided that I should have that sort of experience, they cast their nets about and found one they liked in nearby Lancaster. My mother told me several times over the years how, to her horror, she found me away from all the others (including adults) when she came to pick me up after my first day there. I was outside, sitting on the church steps big as you please; I guess I’d figured I knew my way around well enough already and simply struck out on my own, certain that Mom would find me.

The teacher’s name was Mrs. Mercer. I remember her as both friendly and kind. I’m sure she read to us regularly. She helped us make butter once; she encouraged naps. And when it came time for us to learn to follow the yellow brick road, she lent a steady hand.

The action scenes were fairly brief, punctuated by plenty of unison singing of all the classic songs from the movie. My star turn came when Dorothy and the Scarecrow found me rusted up by the side of the road. I’d been instructed to stand stiff and to squeak out “oil can” between my teeth. The night of our performance, I gave it my all. The stage lights were on (we hadn’t practiced with them), so I couldn’t really see those in attendance. I gave my squeakiest, stiffest “o-il…can” not once, but twice. The laughter from the audience still rings in my head. I suppose I wasn’t upset by it, but I was plenty surprised.

Several of my classmates were from Stanford (a few from my church, even), and I was with those folks the next couple of years in elementary school. I moved away in June 72, almost two hours to the north. My family went back only every once in a long while, and naturally I lost touch. That doesn’t mean I didn’t learn a little bit about some of them over time. I re-established contact with Susan (Wicked Witch), and to a lesser extent Jeff (Munchkin next to Mrs. Mercer in the photo), during our senior year in high school; I met up with Susan once or twice soon after she started at UK and I at Transy. Paul (Uncle Henry), who absconded before the picture was taken, is an uncle to one of my next-door neighbors’ son’s best friends. And Tommy (Scarecrow) has taught piano in Lexington to the son of my college friend Judy.

It’s a long way back to then. We’re all 52 or 53 years old now, and I’d be curious to learn what we’ve made of ourselves and how spread out we live. I’m thinking, though, that closing my eyes and clicking my heels three times won’t get me any nearer to finding out.

LancasterPresKWizardMay70

WTLX Mix Tapes: Side 4, Song 3

Note: This series originally appeared on Facebook in a slightly different form, Aug-Sept 16.

This is the seventh and final female leading voice to appear. I liked plenty of music sung by women in my high school and college days, but my interest in female vocalists greatly escalated while in grad school: it was then that I discovered Suzanne Vega, Kate Bush, Toni Childs, Tracy Chapman, Jane Siberry, Sinead O’Connor, Elizabeth Fraser of Cocteau Twins, Natalie Merchant, Basia, Marti Jones, Indigo Girls, Tori Amos, Carlene Carter, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Lucinda Williams, and Kirsty MacColl, among others. (This has continued to a reasonable extent, with relatively recent interest in female singers such as Regina Spektor, Neko Case, and the sisters Söderberg in First Aid Kit.) I even made a mix tape solely with songs by female artists/singers around 88-89 (still have it, James?).

In many ways, though, I wonder if Aimee Mann might be the best of them all. Even though I liked this song very much in real time, the vocals now sound thin and not entirely in tune. Her growth as a songwriter and singer was noticeable on the second and third ‘Til Tuesday albums, and she kept right on through the next 20+ years in her solo work. I would have been plenty surprised if in 1985 you’d told me that she was the one whose new releases I was still buying 30 years later.

WTLX Mix Tapes: Side 4, Song 2

Note: This series originally appeared on Facebook in a slightly different form, Aug-Sept 16.

The fashion in the video SCREAMS 1984. My sense is this one has been pretty much forgotten (it was #38 for three weeks in July), but I still like it. They were from Bahs-ten; another Beantown-based band shows up tomorrow.

On a note that’s interesting only to me, the segues leading into and out of this song are the two best on these tapes.

SotD: Marilyn Whitelaw and Mark Davis, “Jeannie’s Diner”

This is pretty much what you’d expect it to be: a mash-up of the Suzanne Vega/DNA version of “Tom’s Diner” with the theme of/lyrics about I Dream of Jeannie. What may be surprising is that it’s actually quite good/funny; the video, created seemingly years afterward, is very well done.