SotD: Walter Egan, “Fool Moon Fire”

Here, have a music video featuring a werewolf for Halloween!

I was poking through a bin of college-era stuff a couple of weeks ago and came across a list of hits that were being played on WLAP-FM around late April or early May of 83. I’d broken them down as described in one of last month’s posts, by Type (I or II) and position on the tape (A, B, C, or D) as provided by the station’s vendor.  I’m including a picture below.  Maybe a couple of different tapes are represented; it looks like it covers a fairly brief window, maybe a week or two. It’s a nice snapshot of the tunes being featured at the time, however.  I can’t know if the station had any input into what was included, but I like that whoever was putting it together was occasionally taking chances on new songs that wouldn’t wind up breaking onto the Top 40.

Here’s one from the list that didn’t quite make it, peaking at #46. It’s a mighty fine song, and I remember liking it pretty well that spring (note that I didn’t get the first word of the title correct, though). Walter Egan is best known for “Magnet and Steel,” which featured Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks on backup vocals and was apparently about (Egan and) Stevie. He also wrote “Hot Summer Nights,” a medium-sized hit for Night in the summer of 79.

While I wish the vid was of higher quality, I’m glad to have the opportunity to see it.

WLAP_April83

 

Sixty Minute Tape, Song 6: They Might Be Giants, “Ana Ng”

Late in 2016, I posted on Facebook about the contents of a mix tape I put together sometime in early 92.  It’s the only sixty-minute tape of its kind in my collection.  I’ll be re-upping modified versions of those sixteen posts over the coming weeks.

The entirety of the lower 48 of the U.S. is antipodal to the Indian Ocean; however, there are parts of South America (mostly Peru, Chile, and Argentina) that are antipodal to countries where the surname Ng is commonly found. Regardless, I’ve always found the image presented in the opening lines arresting (the inspiration came from a 1953 Pogo comic strip). Tip of the hat to the TMBG wiki for this last bit of info.

“I don’t want the world…I just want your half,” is in my Song Lyric Hall of Fame.

American Top 40 PastBlast, 10/31/81: Diesel, “Sausalito Summernight”

Here’s a cool tune from a Dutch band, in their only time on the Hot 100. It’s another song that appeared on one of Barry Scott’s Lost 45s disks, although unsurprisingly in its single form (#31 on this countdown, getting to #25). I’m glad to have found a fun, tie-dyed video for the LP version.  Especially love its opening image.

I checked my Harris Top 50 charts to see how highly I ever ranked this one. I was a little surprised to see it only got as high as #18–I suspect it was one of those cases where a shortish, sluggish AT40 run hurt its chances with me, since I recall digging on it a decent amount that fall.

American Top 40 PastBlast, 10/26/74: Raspberries, “Overnight Sensation (Hit Record)”

I liked both “All By Myself” and “Never Gonna Fall in Love Again” in the spring and summer of 76, and Eric Carmen’s incorporation of themes from Rachmaninoff in both might well have kept me from connecting him to his earlier work in a band, even if I’d been a few years older than 12. I’m sure that before too long I heard from Casey about EC’s early classical training and subsequent move toward rock.

It’s fair to say that the longer Carmen stayed in the biz, the less I tended to like his output. The power pop of his 72-74 run with the Raspberries is absolutely top-notch stuff. This was their last appearance on AT40 (#24 here, peaking at #18). I think I’ve read comparisons of Eric’s work here to Brian Wilson; sure sounds like he’s channeling his inner Beach Boy to me.

SotD: Sam Phillips, “Raised on Promises”

The last weekend of October 91 was jam-packed with fun and important events. I had no teaching duties that fall, thanks to some grant money my advisor had secured, so I had freedom enough to break away from writing my dissertation when the need arose. And arise it did–a wedding and a big birthday celebration on back-to-back days.

October 25 was not only my father-in-law’s birthday; it was that of my great aunt Birdie Brown (paternal grandmother’s sister) as well. While she had stopped driving by this point, she was still living in her home in Warsaw, KY, the house in which both she and my father had been born. And so I drove down US 42 from Florence that Friday morning to go visit her on the day she turned 90.

Aunt Birdie had never married. My grandmother was her only sibling, my father her only nephew, my sister and I her only pseudo-grandchildren (and she was very much like a grandmother to us–Grandma had died more than sixteen years earlier, just before I turned 11). She thought Amy and I hung the moon, so she was so very pleased to see me that day. Her eyesight and hearing had been deteriorating, but she could still get around reasonably well. I’m sure she escorted me to the living room, sat me down in the overstuffed chair I now have in our basement, and prompted me to tell all about my life at that time. I’m also certain I didn’t stay nearly as long as she might have wanted. I can recall a feeling of sadness as I drove off, worrying that I was disappointing her as I left her to what I know was often a lonely existence.

I had elsewhere to be, though. James, my college roomie, was getting married the following day (his wife-to-be was–and still is!–also named Amy), and I was one of the wedding party. The post-rehearsal festivities included a boat ride on the Kentucky River, with musicians on board playing John Prine and the like. It was a fabulous day for such an event, especially for late October–sunny and plenty warm.

The wedding itself, at the Campbell House in Lexington, was splendid, in part a mini-college reunion. I played the role of usher well! Music at the reception was provided by Candy Says, a local band (the drummer was dating Amy’s sister). It was a great time, but I couldn’t stick around forever, because…

…it was back to Warsaw on Sunday for a reception for Aunt Birdie. Since she’d lived there all her life and had been a librarian at the county school for a number of years, practically everyone in town knew her. Dad had made the arrangements and gotten the word out. We got there in plenty of time to escort her to the location (I think it was the Gallatin County Historical Society building?). She had a grand time all afternoon, certainly in part because her family was with her. I recently came across the guest book and pictures from the event.

I don’t remember how much longer Aunt Birdie stayed in that house, but I doubt it was more than another year or so. My trip to see her that October Friday had to have been one of the last times it was just the two of us there. When the time came, Dad moved her to the assisted living section at Colonial Heights, a senior facility in Florence. She was okay with that.

I imagine it was back to Illinois for me on Monday, but I wasn’t returning simply with memories of a wonderful few days. On Saturday morning, I’d swung by my favorite Lexington music store (I guess it’d changed names from Cut Corner Records to CD Central by this time–they were already in their new location) to see what could be had cheaply. I assume I picked up a few things, but the big prize was Cruel Inventions by Sam Phillips. My interest had been piqued by a review I’d read earlier that fall on the Usenet group rec.music.reviews, and when I came across a promo copy, I couldn’t resist. There are many great tunes on it, but “Raised on Promises” has long been my favorite.

SotD: Go-Betweens, “Love Goes On!”

Soon after I became friends with Greg in the spring of 90, he shoved 16 Lovers Lane, by Australia’s Go-Betweens, my way. I was immediately taken by it, and over time I’ve become inclined to claim that it’s my all-time favorite album. The group had two power centers–Robert Forster and the late Grant McLennan–each with his own distinctive vision. The ten songs are split right down the middle in terms of writing credit (and vocals). McLennan’s contributions, particularly “Quiet Heart,” “Was There Anything I Could Do?” and even more particularly today’s feature are THE gems for me, but Forster’s “Love Is a Sign” and “Dive for Your Memory” are remarkably good as well. Both men bring melancholia galore. There’s a legitimate point of comparison (two intra-band romances going south) between late 80s Go-Betweens and Rumours-era Fleetwood Mac. No, I’m not claiming 16LL is as good or important, but I say give this disk a try if you haven’t.

This song also happens to be the first half of perhaps my favorite two-track sequence that appeared on any of my mix tapes. I even put them back-to-back on a mix CD a decade later. Of course, the second of those tunes will be featured tomorrow.

From The Archives: Austin

Today is the centennial of the birth of my father-in-law, Austin Edward Lutz. His father worked for Booker & Kinnaird, a small insurance company in Louisville; while his middle name came from his paternal grandfather, Austin was Mr. Kinnaird’s first name. An only child, he grew up on the west side of Louisville. He graduated from Manual High School in 35, right in the heart of the Great Depression. Next came a year of business school, and afterward he landed a sales position at Booker & Kinnaird.

Austin was drafted into the Army in 42. He was tall–6′ 4”–and his long, narrow feet (12.5 AA) may well have kept him out of the infantry; while they waited for shoes that fit to come in, he received training as a clerk and was ultimately assigned to the Office of the Registrar for the 300th General Hospital. This unit was initially stationed in North Africa but soon established their base of operations in Naples, where they remained through the end of the war.

He went back to B & K upon his return from Italy. His father died within a couple of years, and he and his mother bought a house in St. Matthews and began attending Harvey Browne Presbyterian Church. In the mid-50s, a square dance group formed at the church (they called themselves the Harvey Bees), and one night he invited the daughter of one of his mother’s friends to accompany him to a Bees’ function. Within a year or so, on December 27, 1958, Austin and Kathryn “Kay” Louise Ellis were wed (they would later joke that one reason for their union was the square dance group’s rule that only married couples could be members). They lived in New Albany, IN, next door to Kay’s mother, while his mother stayed in St. Matthews. Eventually his church membership moved to Central Christian in New Albany, Kay’s longtime congregation.

About three years later Austin and Kay received unexpected news of impending parenthood (they were both in their 40s). It became doubly surprisingly when, just several weeks before the due date, they learned there would be twins! As Martha and Ruth grew up, Booker & Kinnaird was sold and re-sold; first they morphed into NTVL, then later Alexander & Alexander. Austin’s work turned into an office job in one of the skyscrapers downtown.  He didn’t like as well–he’d have rather been out and about in the city, talking with clients and would-be clients. He partially retired upon turning 65 and finished with A & A completely around the age of 70.

His primary hobby in later years was cross-stitch. We have many of his pieces on our walls, and additional ones emerge each Christmas. Here is a sample.

AELCSStillLife

One reason he found cross-stitch so appealing was that it gave him the opportunity to express his desire for precision and imposing order. This was also manifested in his ability to fill suitcases and boxes with zero (perhaps even negative?) wasted space. Martha says he had “the packing gene”–I’m grateful she inherited it from him. He kept a daily diary for decades and maintained meticulous records over many years as Treasurer for Central Christian. He did extensive research on genealogy and was happy to track down records of many an indirect ancestor or research the family history of a cousin’s spouse.

In the early 80s, he and a few of his 300th GH buddies decided they wanted to start holding reunions. Southern Indiana was reasonably central, so Austin wound up serving as chief organizer. This included both planning the event and updating information in the “blue book” that was distributed at each reunion to attendees (as you might suspect, he was extremely well-suited for these tasks). He methodically found ways to reach out to many folks in the 300th he hadn’t known during the war, including the medical staff. The reunions occurred every other year on the first weekend of June; at their peak, around seventy-five former members would gather at what’s now the Clarion Hotel in Clarksville. Numerous new friendships formed not only among those who had served, but also spouses and children.

I came on the scene in 95. Martha and I started dating in early February and we were serious enough to warrant introductions to each other’s parents by that Easter. After it was clear that I would become his son-in-law, he and Kay insisted that we be on a first-name basis. Despite not seeing eye-to-eye with me on music (he was strictly big band and classical), Austin was incredibly welcoming and warm to me. My favorite expression of his was, “Oh, brother!” spoken in an incredulous tone with a roll of his eyes, often in reaction to the news of the day on television or some tale of Kay’s regarding an encounter with various people she knew. A close second was “Thank Fortune!”

The following years brought many joyous occasions: Austin’s 80th birthday gala included a dinner attended by friends from various phases of his life; he and Kay held a 45th anniversary reception at their home; in late 2000 he became Gramps.

In June 02, the 300th GH held their final reunion. Attendance had been dwindling as folks continued to age and die, and those remaining agreed it was time to stop. At the closing session, Austin was recognized for his years of dedication as a driving force behind the gatherings. The following weekend, the family convened in Black Mountain, NC, for Martha and Ruth’s 40th birthday. We celebrated with dinner at the Red Rocker Inn.

40th Bday_edited-1

While in NC, Austin and Kay’s car acted up, and I had to retrieve Austin from where it was being serviced. He mentioned to me on that ride back to the hotel that he hadn’t been feeling well for a while–how long, I don’t know, but I assume at least a few weeks. When they got back to IN, visits to doctors began. Eventually they discovered pancreatic cancer, the same illness that killed his father. We celebrated his 85th birthday in a nursing facility. He passed away on December 7th in the hospital. He had enjoyed remarkable health throughout his life until those final six months.  What turned out to be his final cross-stitch project–a beautiful Christmas tree skirt for us–hadn’t quite gotten finished; Kay completed it the following year.

I’m grateful for the seven-and-a-half years I knew Austin.  He was a kind and loving man, and I’m sorry that Ben wasn’t given the opportunity to have any real memories of him. I know his daughters still miss him terribly. It’s an honor to be able to convey a little of his story.