And So It Begins…

At the end of school a couple of weeks ago, Ben officially became a HS senior. We’ve already been on a few college visit excursions, with more to come in the months ahead. It won’t be long until it’s time for him to work on applications, essays, etc. This summer will be giving us all a taste of some of what’s to come, too. I’m not sure I’m quite ready for it, but I don’t appear to have a choice!

Yesterday we dropped him at an academic camp at a school in Indiana, where he’ll spend the next two-plus weeks. He’ll be working on a project with a team of two or three other students, and they’ll write up their work and make a presentation at the end. Today he’ll figure out which project he’ll pursue and learn who his teammates will be. He’s not one for communication, but I hope we can pry out of him some information tonight. I am excited for him to have this chance. While I suspect he’ll figure out whether this is a college he might want to attend, what I’m really hoping for him is that he’ll learn some things about himself, make some friends, and experience at least a bit of success in his team’s efforts. My fear is that he keeps to himself too much, and I’m hoping this peer group will help him break out a bit from the shell I perceive him to have.

Ben was all too ready for Martha and me to leave. I get it to a large extent; I didn’t experience any homesickness when it was my turn to leave the nest. For the last year or so, he’s been letting us know in ways that vary in level of subtlety about his desire for more independence. I don’t doubt we hover too much—the curse of having only one child—but sometimes I wish he weren’t quite so forthright about it, would humor us a bit. On the other hand, it’s encouraging to see his confidence and relative fearlessness about going forth in the world.  My guess is he’s going to need that.

His return from the Hoosier State won’t be the end of his time away this summer. He’ll be gone for two one-week periods in July for his work with National Youth Leadership Training (NYLT), a Boy Scouts program. Three years ago, he was selected by his Troop to attend NYLT at our Council’s campground; in the years since, he’s been tapped to serve on its staff. This year, he has been invited to receive additional training at a NYLT Leadership Academy in the DC area. It’s a cool honor and I’m certainly pleased for him (and proud, too). But all told, this will be a month away from us over a seven-week period! Sigh.

On our return home last night, Martha and I stopped off in Batesville, IN for an early birthday dinner for her. We went to The Sherman (known prior to a renovation two years ago as The Sherman House). I’ve seen its billboards for over three decades now on my treks up and down I-74, advertising hotel rooms and authentic German dining. But until yesterday, I’d never been there.

With the remodeling came some change in menu: they now claim to be a combination German-American bistro/chop house. The German entrée offerings number only about a half-dozen. Unfortunately, they were out of schnitzel last night; we made do with stroganoff and the falscher hase. It was all pretty good, but I have to say that we were a little concerned at the start. We arrived at around 6:30, and no one else was dining! It took almost 30 minutes before anyone else showed up to eat, and maybe six or so other parties had arrived by the time we left. 6:30 didn’t seem that early to me, but maybe things are different in Batesville…

One reason I wanted to go to The Sherman (I was surprised to find it’s named after the Civil War general) was that it’s a place my parents frequented over the years. I suspect they started going during my time in Illinois, perhaps dropping by on the way home from visiting me.  They clearly enjoyed it, because they kept going back, maybe as often as annually. As Martha and I sat in one of the alcoves last night, I wondered: might this have been a table where they once dined?  Maybe I was just a little wistful over never having gone there with them. Just one more way in which I feel the loss.

So, I’m a little melancholy this morning. In just a bit, I’m back on the road to Cincinnati, for the funeral of the mother of a second cousin.  This cousin and I had just recently established contact on Facebook; we have a mutual interest in genealogy, so I’m hoping in the coming months we can fill in some holes for each other. For today, though, it’s a small show of support in his family’s time of grief.

American Top 40 PastBlast, 6/8/85: Alison Moyet, “Invisible”

Upstairs at Eric’s, the debut LP from Yaz, was hard to miss in record store bins during the mid-to-late 80s, with its pair of sawed-in-two mannequins “sitting” at a table. I’m familiar with a few of its tracks now (“Situation” and “Don’t Go” are both pretty good) but its moment of popularity, my freshman year of college, passed by me unnoticed at the time. Keyboardist Vince Clarke went on to decent success with Erasure, but it was a single from vocalist Alison Moyet that caught my ear most.

I’m not sure now how I came across “Invisible” (#35 this week, down from its peak of #31) in the spring of 85—radio, I assume—but it stood out enough for me to purchase the 45. I love it to this day. Moyet gives a standout vocal performance, with her big, full alto. I’ve listened to some of her other songs again on YouTube this week (I remember a guy on my floor talking up “Love Resurrection” later in 85, and I know I heard “Is This Love” when it was released a couple of years later); it’s amusing to read in the comments repeatedly about how Moyet’s voice compares quite favorably to Adele’s.

American Top 40 PastBlast, 6/9/73: Steely Dan, “Reeling in the Years”

Jukeboxes were a little past their heyday but still quite popular by the time I was old enough for them to catch my interest. I associate them mostly with diners and the Pizza Hut we had in Florence, but I’m sure I encountered them with some frequency in other places. As much as I was into popular music, I was usually compelled to investigate what was on offer. I certainly wasn’t averse to slugging one with a quarter or two from time to time, perhaps particularly when I found an obscure favorite among its offerings.

The front page of the 6/9/73 issue of Billboard announced some changes to its methodology in computing the Hot 100 (hat tip to a post by AT40-phile Pete Battistini on a message board I read). Among them was they would begin counting sales to jukebox operators, which apparently comprised a significant percentage of product moved (that makes sense upon reflection). But Billboard was also reducing the weighting given to sales in the chart rankings, placing a greater emphasis on airplay. Finally, they were starting to use a computer to compile results. The first output from their program was sent off to Casey and company in late May for this show, and they immediately got to work.

It didn’t take long for the Billboard folks to discover they’d made an error; when they re-compiled, things shook out quite a bit differently. (For the first run, there were no new songs on the show, although two cuts that had fallen out the previous week re-appeared. Other tunes that had been falling surged back up, and some that were primed to ascend slipped back just a little. The claim is that there was a bug in the code.) All told, there were five songs on the second version that weren’t on the first: four debuts, plus “Daddy Could Swear, I Declare” from Gladys Knight and the Pips, which should have been in its second week. Only four songs—#1, #2, #28, and #31—were in the same spot on the two runs.

The AT40 staff was contacted quickly about the modified chart, but by that time the show was in the can, ready to be mailed off, and couldn’t be reasonably re-done. Tom Rounds, the executive producer, included a note to radio stations explaining the reason for the differences between what appeared in the magazine and on the show. Thanks again go to Battistini—info about all this appears in his book American Top 40 with Casey Kasem (The 1970’s).

“Reeling in the Years” was played at #15, but was really #22—it had peaked a couple of weeks before at #11. It’s one of my two or three favorites from Steely Dan, a complete pop gem. I’ve long dug the parallel construction regarding the things Fagen doesn’t understand at the end of each verse.

American Top 40 PastBlast Redux, 6/19/82: Stevie Nicks, “After the Glitter Fades”

Before I started this blog, I posted about songs from old AT40s on Facebook, January-July 2017. I’ll be moving them here over time. This entry has been edited somewhat from the original.

Let’s make it a Stevie-filled week with this post that went up on FB last Father’s Day. It’s my favorite single from Bella Donna.  Reached only #32, three positions shy of that here.  The video looks to be a pretty cool artifact.  I don’t think it is quite the edit/mix/vocal that appeared originally (even ignoring the lack of overdubbing, etc).

SotD: Fleetwood Mac, “Silver Springs”

This song hits on threads running through a couple of recent posts. Last week I mentioned how Ronnie Hammond of the Atlanta Rhythm Section played at 45 instead of 33 sounds reasonably like Stevie Nicks; it escaped me until later that the day that article went up was Stevie’s 70th birthday. As belated recognition of said event, here’s my favorite song of hers. “Silver Springs” was recorded as part of the Rumours sessions but wasn’t included on the album. I encountered it as the B-side to “Go Your Own Way,”  which I bought in early 77.  It’s absolutely one of the great flipsides I have known—I played it A LOT in the late 70s. I call this the best 45 in my collection, based on the quality of both sides. It’s a fascinating story presented, as well: two ex-lovers taking out their hurt on each other but each in a masterfully musical way.

If you do an internet search you can read about how “Silver Springs” came to be omitted from Rumours and how it gained new life twenty years later on FM’s live album The Dance. I’ve read somewhere that the masters of the mix that appears on the 45 were lost; the version included on compilations since then is a little different from what I remember, particularly at the very end–I think they have only Stevie singing. I’m gratified to find that someone has loaded a recording of the original to YouTube.

American Top 40 PastBlast, 6/4/83: Jim Capaldi, “That’s Love”

I have to confess that when I first starting hearing this on WLAP-FM during my first May at Transy, I was completely unaware of Jim Capaldi’s place in the history of rock. Traffic had just never really come up on my radar, nor any of his previous solo work. I doubt I connected him to Steve Winwood even after this hit, which features Stevie on keyboards (it’s obvious in retrospect). I do know that I really liked “That’s Love” (#32 here, getting to #28) then and now; I could listen to it over and over.

Yes, that’s Eric Bogosian starring in the video, with his wife Jo Bonney.  They’re still together.


American Top 40 PastBlast, 6/1/74: Blue Swede, “Hooked on a Feeling”

My brain does not always correctly identify the downbeat; that is, I’ll occasionally be off by a half-beat in interpreting music as it’s being played. I don’t know if it’s trouble with parsing syncopation, or what, but there are parts of songs that I know I’m just not hearing correctly, and I can’t break out of it.  This tune was a case in point for years.

Apparently, the first time I heard Blue Swede’s remake of “Hooked on a Feeling” in the spring of 74, I missed the first syllable of the intro, so I was hearing “Gotcha gahoo gahoo gahoo” over and again. And that’s how it always sounded to me throughout its run of popularity and whenever I heard it on the radio later. Sure, I could tell that there was a conflict of what constituted the beat between that and what the lead singer Björn Skifs was doing, but, I suppose I put it down to artistic license.

It wasn’t until I got to college over eight years later that I learned the truth. Mark caught my attention one day when “Hooked” came up in conversation and mentioned something about an “ooga chaka” part. I had no idea what he meant and actually thought he was putting me on. Before too long, however, I finally was able to hear the song the “right way.” And so it was pretty much from thereon; while it was good to know how it was intended to go, to a certain extent I felt like I’d lost a friend.

There are other tunes that to this day still have that sense of being off for me. One is “Tell Me Something Good;” throughout, it’s the transition from verse to chorus that isn’t on a full beat, so clearly I’m not hearing the verse (and the panting) correctly. Another one is “Lean on Me.” I can’t figure it out—when I try to count time, Bill Withers never comes in on my beat. There’s also trouble with the first verse of “Spirits in the Material World.“ I guess this inability is just one of my many quirks/foibles—anyone got any advice?

Fortunately, I suppose, I actually do hear the intro to “Hooked on a Feeling” (a former #1, at #34 in its last week on the show here) as I did originally every once in a while—twice in the last six months, even. It seems to help to have it come on at low volume and/or in the background.