SotD: Paul McCartney, “Wanderlust”

I didn’t take note of it at the time, but the enrollment at Transylvania was perilously low–about 650–at the point of my arrival. To help combat this, they began the Thomas Jefferson (now William T. Young) Scholarship program, not only to attract bright students but also to raise awareness and (they hoped) in turn boost the total number of students. There were 10 of these tuition/room-and-board awards in my entering class; the powers-that-be elected to raise the number to 25 for subsequent incoming classes.

This tactic, which I imagine was only one of several, seemed to pay off in a big way. Enrollment jumped noticeably in my time there (to around 900 by my senior year, and then to 1040 in Fall 87). One way I could spot an immediate difference the fall of my sophomore year was that some freshmen spilled upward to my hall, the fourth floor of Clay–we’d all fit on the first two floors the year before.

One of those new students on my floor was Todd. I suspect I first met him because of the music coming from his room. I quickly learned he had a really nice album collection (he also became one of the DJs at WTLX), and I remember the posters he had hanging on the walls on his side of the room: the cover of Duran Duran’s Rio, plus what I think were other works by the same artist.

During my sophomore and junior years, Todd graciously lent me some of his albums: these included Dire Straits’ Making Movies (which I mentioned for a different reason a few weeks ago); Abacab and Genesis; Naked Eyes’ two albums; and Big Country’s The Crossing. It was Fall 83 or Winter 84 when I put Making Movies and Naked Eyes and on a cassette (not a natural pairing, I know). There was plenty of tape left on each side, and I filled in those gaps with cuts from McCartney’s Tug of War, also via Todd. The Eyes side got the title track and “Take It Away.” Movies got “Ballroom Dancing” and “Wanderlust” (those two were the perfect length to fill the side out). I listened to that tape a lot over the next few years.

Not too long after the Beatles channel on SiriusXM debuted back in May, I heard “Ballroom Dancing” a couple of times; that made me want to ferret it out on YouTube and maybe even feature it in a FB post. It’s a well-written, creatively structured tune, and the intervening years hadn’t dimmed it in my memory. But “Wanderlust” was another story. (This may start to sound like déjà vu all over again, if you’ve been reading my stuff.) It popped up in the “Suggested Videos” list when “Dancing” played, and wasn’t coming back to me so quickly. I clicked and found myself immediately swept back more than three decades. When that gorgeous counter-melody began, the words rushed back to me immediately: “Oh where did I go wrong my love? What petty crime was I found guilty of?” How had I let this slip away? But, such a pleasure to make its re-acquaintance! It was the second time in just a few weeks I’d had such an experience.

So, Todd–thanks for your part in forming my musical landscape! It hasn’t been forgotten, and it’s also much appreciated.

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