Night Driving, July 29 1990

I’ve been fortunate over the last two-plus weeks to visit with three of the five guys who took part in my wedding (along with their wives). First, I saw Tony and Lisa while the family and I were about to start a short tour of college visits. Last week, I went to a couple of concerts with Greg (Katie went with us to one); I’m hoping to write up reviews in the next ten days or so. And over the weekend, the jumping-off point for this missive, John and Ann came through my neck of the woods.

We’ve had mighty fine weather for late July here in Kentucky the past few days. On Saturday, we met up with John and Ann in Newport, just on the Kentucky side of the Ohio River. We gave the Hofbräuhaus a spin and then walked across the bridge to watch the Reds whip up on the Phillies. Then on Sunday, they drove down to Georgetown and we wound up getting some fine Cuban food in Lexington. It’s been close to a decade since we’ve seen each other, but in so many ways it was just like old times.

As it happens, Sunday was their wedding anniversary, their twenty-eighth. Numbers geek that I am, I have a distinct appreciation for 28th anniversaries, since that’s how long it takes calendars in the Western World to perform one complete cycle. [Two asides here, at least one of which is pretty nerdish: 1) I have a friend who gave birth to her son on my 28th birthday, so yes, I can indeed tell you on which day of the week any of his birthdays thus far occurred, just by thinking about my own; 2) I know something else about my 28th birthday, and I already have given thought to writing about it in roughly eighteen months, for my 56th birthday.]

So July 29, 1990 was also a Sunday. I recall a few things about that wedding weekend. I stayed in the same hotel with my officemate Paul and his family. The ceremony took place in a beautiful Catholic church in Chicago. John, I, and the rest of the male half of the wedding party almost entered the sanctuary late, but it was all cool in the end. I wished I’d written my toast for the reception beforehand.

And I remember what I listened to on the way back to Urbana that night (it’s Sunday evening as I write this, probably around the same time of day as that journey). As you have no doubt surmised, it was the cassette you see pictured above. Getting it into my hands at that moment was a group effort. That’s not my handwriting. It’s Paul’s. I didn’t have a tape deck then (and wouldn’t until I married), but Paul did, and he was gracious enough to offer to transfer CDs to cassette for me so that I could listen to them in my car. I imagine it was fairly painless for him to do—just pop a disk in, press play and record, and turn the volume to zero so that it wouldn’t disturb his work. I still have around three dozen tapes that he recorded for me in this manner.

They weren’t my CDs, either (shh, don’t tell anyone).  They came with high recommendations from Greg, who had loaned them to me, though I did purchase my own copies later.  Greg and I had started hanging out at the beginning of 90, having met at the bridge club.  There was a lot of overlap in our musical tastes, but since his CD collection was much more expansive than mine, our sharing tended to be one-sided.  The Darling Buds, from England, and the Go-Betweens, from Australia, were probably the first two bands I came to seriously appreciate via Greg. Very different from each other, but both great pop groups.

(The blank cassette was mine.)

Paul had committed those disks to tape only nine days earlier, so I was just gaining familiarity with them. While I certainly didn’t love them like I do now, it wouldn’t shock me if I listened to that tape more than once that night.

It was a transition point in my time at Illinois, at least from a social standpoint. I was now roommate-less, after a little over three years with John. I’d soon move to my one-bedroom apartment on Main St. (We barely squeezed the couch around various corners into the new place. When I moved again a year later, I regret to say that we broke it apart and tossed it out the window.) As it turned out, though, my circle continued to expand. I spent much more time with Greg, Katie, Toby, Karl, and their physics pals. That fall, I got to know new grad-students-in-town Jay and Michelle. And I would play lots of bridge and become better friends with Mark and Chris. Maybe I caught glimpses of the future as I was streaming down I-57 that night, but I strongly suspect I didn’t know for sure. The music definitely helped tamp down any insecurities I might have had.

Here’s one song each from Pop Said… and 16 Lovers Lane.  The Buds released several singles in the UK from this album, though the excellent “When It Feels Good” wasn’t one of them.


I think “Quiet Heart” is just plain spectacular. It’s always struck me as a fascinating choice for the second track on the disk; it’s quite an act of confidence to place a ballad in that slot.


American Top 40 PastBlast, 7/26/80: Kim Carnes, “More Love”

Kim Carnes first appeared on AT40 in a couple of duets: “You’re a Part of Me,” with the underrated Gene Cotton in August 78, and “Don’t Fall in Love with a Dreamer,” with Kenny Rogers, just a few months before she made the scene as a solo artist with “More Love.” I’ve always liked “Bette Davis Eyes” plenty, but this cover of the 67 Smokey Robinson/Miracles hit is the song of hers I dig the most. It reached #10 and is #14 on this show.

American Top 40 PastBlast, 7/29/72: Hollies, “Long Cool Woman in a Black Dress”

I don’t have any specific memory of hearing “Long Cool Woman in a Black Dress” during its period of popularity. However, it got regular recurrent play on Cincinnati stations in my teen years and quickly became a song I always wanted to crank. Not exactly sure when I realized that these guys also did “The Air That I Breathe” (which I definitely remember on the radio in 74), but I suspect it was a surprise to learn.  “Long Cool Woman” was the Hollies’ biggest hit, reaching #2—it’s climbing on this show, at #10.

I bought The Hollies’ Greatest Hits on cassette while in college (perhaps because I liked this song so much); that opened up a whole new window on their work. Somehow, “Bus Stop” and “Carrie-Anne” (along with all their other 60s work, save “He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother”) hadn’t pierced through to my consciousness before then.

Another View on the Summer of 82

Thanks very much to HERC for his guest post earlier this week; it was a lot of fun for me to learn about his summer in Texas as well as some of the tunes he particularly associates with that point in his life. Today I’m going through a similar exercise.

My high school graduation was on Tuesday, June 1, and I left for college on Saturday, September 4; quite a few things happened in between. I’ll try to touch on what I can recall as I list twenty of the pop singles I enjoyed. You can generally, but not always, assume at least a modest connection between the song(s) listed and the event(s) described below them. Stuff is in something akin to chronological order. Let’s fire it up!

Motels, “Only the Lonely”

Patrice Rushen, “Forget Me Nots”

On one of the first couple of Saturday mornings in June, I competed in a 10K in Florence, one of only two I ever ran (the other came about a year later—all my other races were 5Ks). I think I was pleased enough with my time, and I’m fairly sure I ran for pleasure occasionally the rest of the summer.

.38 Special, “Caught Up in You”

Haircut One Hundred, “Love Plus One”

I talked a little earlier this month about having my wisdom teeth extracted that summer; that happened on June 23. Feel like I heard the .38 Special song in the car either going to or returning from the hospital.

J. Geils Band, “Angel in Blue”

There was an ice cream & hamburger place, the Dairy Delight, not too far from my house in Walton; the owner lived down the street from me. I think it was strictly walk-up when we moved to Walton but at some point they enclosed a few feet of space in front of the counters where you ordered. In the 80s they started keeping a video game or two in that area; I remember playing Centipede a fair amount there—would they still have had that one in summer of 82? Looks like it was closed for some period of time but re-opened under new ownership a few years ago and has expanded its menu greatly.

Genesis, “Paperlate”

Gary U.S. Bonds, “Out of Work”

In mid-July I went to Transy to sign up for my fall classes. An exchange of letters with Susan, my Student Orientation Leader, helped me decide among a couple of options (her advice on who to take for Calculus I was literally life-changing). I met with Dr. Miller, my advisor, for one of the first times, and chatted with a few of my soon-to-be classmates.

Kim Wilde, “Kids in America”

Men at Work, “Who Can It Be Now?”

That summer I rediscovered Cincinnati AM radio for just a bit.  WCLU, 1320 on the dial, played a much wider range of Top 40 music that I was used to–I think they were aggressively trying to break hits and perhaps focused on some of the more new-wavy stuff.  I have a few survey sheets of theirs from the summer of 83; I thought I had some from 82 as well, but if I ever did they appear to be lost to the dustbin of history.

Footnote: Looking at the link above, I was reminded that for a while in the late 80s, that station had an all-Elvis format.

Crosby, Stills and Nash, “Wasted on the Way”

In the last half of July, Frank and I took an overnight roadtrip to Stanford, to see some of the folks I knew from the early 70s (I’d re-established connections with a few of them toward the end of 81). Among other things, I got in a round of golf with the guy who had lived next door to me, on the course I first played with Dad when I was six.

Frank and I had been good friends since his family had moved to Walton at the beginning of our sophomore years, but that summer we were best friends in a way I haven’t experienced often. We both ran in that 10K. He dropped by a couple of times while I was recovering from my oral surgery. We shared lots of confidences. This trip was a bonding experience, too—several hours in the car together over a couple of days to talk about all kinds of stuff. Good times.

Steve Miller Band, “Abracadabra”
Chicago, “Hard to Say I’m Sorry”

My relatives from Massachusetts came to KY for a two-week vacation at the beginning of August. Amy and I hung out a lot with my cousins Sandi and Jack the first week. This visit was the springboard for keeping in closer touch with that branch of my family.

Go-Go’s, “Vacation”

Missing Persons, “Words”
Melissa Manchester, “You Should Hear How She Talks About You”

My family’s vacation that summer, the third week of August, was Myrtle Beach. There I discovered a radio station that played what I think is called “beach” and/or “shag” music. Very interesting—and fun—stuff, not exactly oldies, that I don’t feel like I’ve heard anywhere else before or since.

Marshall Crenshaw, “Someday, Someway”

We stopped by Knoxville on the way home, to check out the World’s Fair. I recall enjoying our time there.  I’ve had the occasion to attend a couple of workshops/conferences at the University of Tennessee in the last decade or so; the Sunsphere, which we ascended back in the day, is still there, but it’s hard for me to believe now that they crammed all those pavilions in the surrounding space.

Elton John, “Blue Eyes”

The next day, Sunday, August 22, we went through Lexington to visit one of my mom’s best friends, who was dying of lung cancer. It was also move-in day for Frank at the University of Kentucky (he and I were the only two from our high school class going to college in Lexington). We drove by UK and found him; I introduced him to a friend I had met via FBLA who was living on his floor. After he was all settled in, I rode back to Walton with Frank’s father and sister Maria. I know my dad was a bit miffed at me for not completing the trip with the family.

Asia, “Only Time Will Tell”

Billy Idol, “Hot in the City”
Randy Meisner, “Never Been in Love”

From there it was less than two weeks before my own college voyage began. That remaining time was full of goodbyes to friends, shopping for stuff for my dorm room, etc. An eventful three months quickly came to a close.

HERC mentioned the Fast Times at Ridgemont High soundtrack toward the end of his post on Tuesday.  One of its songs that he referenced was definitely in my head right at the end of that August. I’d often whistle along to it, particularly that keyboard line right after the first line of each verse; I remember Mom taking note of how much she thought my efforts at that one part sounded pretty much just like the song.

Guest Post from HERC: Summer of 82–My Soundtrack

Please welcome friend of the blog HERC, of HERC’s Hideaway. I asked if he would do a guest post about some of his favorite tracks from the summer of 82. As you see, he has kindly obliged!

I turned 16 years old in April 1982, six weeks from the end of my sophomore year at Tucson High School. School ended in early June and my Texas Grandma showed up to whisk me away to Navasota for the summer, where I worked various jobs, with my Uncle Sam (sandblasting barns and cattle trailers), my Grandpa Harold (hanging barbed-wire fences) and my Texas Grandma, Miss Skeeter (packaging and distributing fresh-from-The-Gulf jumbo shrimp by the pound).


Spent most of the summer listening to two radio stations (AOR powerhouse KLOL and a really good, mostly upbeat R&B station whose call letters I have unfortunately forgotten) out of Houston and one station out of Bryan/College Station that played edgier music, you know, that new wave. In addition to the radio, I heard music from Uncle Sam’s constantly expanding tape collection as well a steady blend of Top 40 and Country hits on the Cow Talk Steak House jukebox. Texas Grandma was the night manager of Cow Talk and my Grandpa would come in and cook most nights after working all day at his other job. Lastly, I had my trusty Unitech Walkman-clone with dirty orange foam headphones and a few tapes I had dubbed during the school year. What follows is (some of) the soundtrack of that special Summer of 1982, as I remember it.


“Dancing In The Street” – Van Halen

Diver Down had been released just before my birthday and it was an immediate hit with me. “Intruder” was quickly adopted by the school’s swim team as their theme song for reasons I never knew. While I enjoy the brief album as a whole and the “Intruder”/”(Oh) Pretty Woman” segue, in particular, it is Eddie Van Halen’s effects-laden cover of “Dancing In The Street” that has always been a favorite of mine.

“Lookin’ For Love” – Johnny Lee

From the Urban Cowboy soundtrack in 1980, this track was still a hot pick on the jukebox in the summer of 1982.

“You Dropped A Bomb On Me” – The GAP Band

First heard this one while hanging barbed-wire in a pasture with my Grandpa Harold. He was a great guy and tolerated my need to listen to music while we worked, even if it was just blasting the truck’s radio with both doors open. The song was an instant favorite of mine and Grandpa liked the whistling sound of bombs falling.

“I Ran” – A Flock Of Seagulls

Love the way guitarist Paul Reynolds peels off riffs and that sweet solo in this one. I bought two records that summer, the self-titled debut album from A Flock Of Seagulls and a twelve-inch single of Human League’s “Don’t You Want Me”. Played both of them on the giant console stereo system that occupied a corner of a giant living room when no one else was around. The booming bass would rattle the windows.

“Love Will Turn You Around” – Kenny Rogers

“Love Will Turn You Around” was the theme song for Rogers film Six Pack I saw that summer. Whenever my four younger cousins would spend time at Grandma’s house, she would either have us all do chores around the house or take us to Bryan/College Station for an afternoon matinee. Somedays, we did both. I rarely watched the movies my cousins and Grandma saw (E.T. was the only exception I recall) but she was cool about it and let me see what I wanted to see, even if she had to buy me a ticket for the R-rated ones. One time, I chose Six Pack for reasons that now escape me.

“Put Out The Fire” –  Queen

Queen’s “Put Out The Fire” is the hardest-rocking tune on the band’s under-appreciated Hot Space album. I had dubbed it with their Greatest Hits album on the other side of the tape. After so many plays over the summer, that tape snapped shortly after school started again in the fall.

“Partytown” – Glenn Frey

While everyone else was hot for the smooth and saxy “I Found Somebody” and “The One You Love” from Frey’s first solo album, I fell hard for “Partytown”. After all these years, I’m still surprised that some tatted-up, cap-wearing wannabe hasn’t recut this ballsy track and topped the country charts with it.

“Let It Whip” – Dazz Band

Man oh man what a groove. Grandpa Harold’s baby brother was named Sylvester but everyone called him Selze. He was a successful construction contractor, capable of building an entire house from scratch which is what he did in 1981, in a wooded area between Navasota and College Station, just off Highway 6 before you get to Texas World Speedway. Selze’s middle child Darryl loved “Let It Whip”, and even devised a choreographed routine to the song with his little sister. “Oww-hoo!

“No One Like You” – Scorpions

Could be the loudest love song ever recorded. The whole Blackout album remains a favorite to this day.

“Her Strut” – Bob Seger

I was in the backyard when my Uncle Sam drove up in his new 1982 Camaro for the first time. He rolled down the window, told me to get in and off we went. As we got onto an open stretch of road, he turned the volume up on the radio and dropped the hammer. KLOL was playing “Her Strut”, another older song from 1980 that I’ll always associate with the Summer of 1982.


Fast Times At Ridgemont High soundtrack

My Texas Grandma bought me two tapes that summer: REO Speedwagon’s A Decade Of Rock And Roll 1970 To 1980 and the soundtrack to Fast Times At Ridgemont High. Initially, my three favorite tracks on that album were Hagar and Squier’s similar yet different takes on a rockin’ Fast Times theme and Donna Summer’s surprisingly good “Highway Runner”. Nowadays, I’m all about the Jackson Browne, Ravyns, and Oingo Boingo tracks but I still listen to the whole album all the way through. If I had to sum up the Summer of 1982 in just one album, Fast Times At Ridgemont High would be that album.

Special thanks to Will for inviting me to share a small part of the music of my life.

Note from your host: on Thursday, my own companion piece to this.

American Top 40 PastBlast, 7/25/87: Cutting Crew, “One for the Mockingbird”

The  British band Cutting Crew are now thought of as a two-hit wonder, at least in the States (I think this is true; there was an AC hit in 89 that I remember not at all). But sandwiched between the #1 “(I Just) Died in Your Arms” and the top 10 “I’ve Been in Love Before” was this energetic gem, my favorite of them all (I bought the 45). “One for the Mockingbird” is at its peak of #38, its second and final week on the countdown.

American Top 40 PastBlast, 7/22/78: Boney M, “Rivers of Babylon”

Over a decade before he blessed us with Milli Vanilli, German producer Frank Farian assembled this quartet, two of whom actually sang on their records (Farian supplied some of the male vocals himself). Boney M had several hits all over Europe, and “Rivers of Babylon” (whose lyrics come from a couple of Psalms) was a #1 smash in fourteen countries. It fared far worse in the US, though, topping out at only #30; it’s debuting at #39 on this show.

Happy Blogiversary To Me

One year ago today, I started this blog.  I had no idea where it would lead, but it’s been darn satisfying. To note the occasion, two lists and a reflection.

First, the twelve posts with the most views, in descending order (there is a tie for second):

1)  Observing the centennial of my father-in-law’s birth
2)  Noting the fourth anniversary of getting the dog that calmed my son’s fears
2)  Playing a Wizard of Oz character in my kindergarten year-end play
4)  Reminiscing about my high school cross-country experiences
5)  Recounting the time I may have met my future wife (with a twist ending)
6)  Reviewing the local high school’s production of Les Miserables
7)  Remembering my dad on the anniversary of his death
8)  Touring with my paternal grandparents as they taught all over KY during the 1920s
9)  Reliving my dreams of becoming a disc jockey in my early teen years
10) Thinking about my 16th birthday
11) Offering a tribute to David Cassidy
12) Deciphering patterns in a radio station’s playlist

I think there’s a little wonkiness with the numbers for a couple of those, but I’m just the messenger here.

Next, a dozen of my favorite posts other than those listed above (#2, 5, 8, 9, and 12 on the most-viewed list would qualify if I allowed them). These are in the order they appeared.

1) My years-long quest to see 10,000 Maniacs in concert
2) My son’s odd thoughts on what might qualify as a Christmas song
3) The 40th anniversary of Elvis’s death
4) The first day of my college life
5) A review of the very few letters I wrote home while in college
6) A visit to the town where I lived when I was five years old
7) Winning a standoff with a lounge lizard
8) An overview of Christmas songs I just don’t need to hear all that often
9) My in-laws’ square dancing days
10) The well-known country singer that was in my father’s high school class
11) Riding the bus when I was in third grade
12) A look back at my mother’s teen years

There are two sometimes orthogonal themes consistently running through my efforts so far: a desire to share songs I enjoy (with more than the occasional reminiscence attached), and various bits of family history. I often say that this is meant to be a book of memories for my son, but to date it’s been considerably more than that at times. If you dig around enough, it’s clear that I’m still grieving over the loss of my parents, both of whom died within the last five years. I have things related to their final years still to be worked out in my head, and maybe writing about Mom and Dad helps with that. I hope you haven’t minded being a party to that.

On the more upbeat side of things, I’ve also tried to display gratitude, whether it’s to long-time pals or to newer friends I’ve made through the blog. I owe thanks to many, many folks; whether you’ve offered advice, promoted this site via link or tweet, or dropped by to read, please know all of it is greatly appreciated. I’m looking forward to what happens next, whatever it is.

I wrote last November that the direct inspiration for The Music of My Life was a conversation one year ago yesterday with my college friend Judy.  But if July 20, 2017 was its date of birth, that moment had a couple of parents.

Winter 2014: Discovering music blogs. On a Saturday evening (either January 25 or February 1), I was in the ER with my mother, who we knew was terminally ill; within a few days she would undergo a procedure that would offer her some relief.  While waiting for her to be examined and ultimately admitted, I did an internet search for something I’d been meaning to look into for some time: the National Album Countdown, a radio show I’d listened to some in the summer of 76 (WSAI would play it on Sunday evenings after AT40 ended).  One of the top results was an article from a few years earlier on The Hits Just Keep On Comin.  I learned some things about the NAC I didn’t know, but over the following days I became engrossed in the many articles jb had written about AT40.  It was an eye-opener to find someone writing about things that had interested me for so long. No doubt his work has been an influence on mine; I’ve pretty much poached the idea of looking back on the previous year’s posts at one’s blogiversary from him!  In the years since, and particularly over the last 12 months, I’ve continued to learn about many other interesting voices in the music blogosphere.

August 11, 2016: Writing about music (and memories) in earnest. I’d been thinking about “live blogging” old mix tapes on Facebook for a while, and this was when I took the plunge, taking 44 days to go over two cassettes I’d recorded in May 85. (Those articles were reposted here over TMoML’s first six-plus weeks.) That led to writing about other songs and moments on FB, which led to what turned into the PastBlast posts, which led to that lunch with Judy…

I’ve written far more in the last year than I ever dreamed I would, but ideas for posts still come to me regularly.  I imagine for some visitors it’s an exercise in witnessing self-absorption—far too many first-person singular pronouns, with an insufficient number of punchlines—but on the personal side it’s allowed me to conduct a little bit of accounting of successes and mistakes, both large and small, from across the course of my life (heavier on the mistakes—that’s just my nature), even if those sorts of things don’t show up here all that often.

For Year #2 of the blog, I’ve decided to up my Twitter game.  My handle is @music_life_blog.  Follow along if you wish!

Finally, here’s a song I posted one year ago, my first Song of the Day.  This is what I had to say about the origins of SotD then.  As it happens, I’ll be visiting Greg and Katie next week, and we’ll be going to a couple of concerts. I’m pretty stoked.

Okay, one more thing: next Tuesday I’ll be hosting my first guest post. Luckily, I got HERC to write something up for me before he took off to help with his new grandchildren!

American Top 40 PastBlast Redux, 7/13/85: Bryan Adams, “Summer of ’69”

Before I started this blog, I posted about songs from old AT40s on Facebook, January-July 2017. I’ve been moving them here over time, and this week I’m wrapping them up with the last two I wrote pre-blog–here is the final one! This entry has been edited a little from the original.

In the timeframe highlighted in this song, Bryan Adams would have been 9.5 years old.  I hope that those weren’t really the best days of his life!

I remember liking “Lonely Nights” (probably heard it on WEBN) as a HS senior in the spring of 82.  Always dug his rockers MUCH more than the slower numbers (which meant counting me out when he recorded all those movie ballads that went to #1 in the 90s).  Bought the Reckless cassette while in college.  My favorites are “Run To You,” “It’s Only Love,” and of course this one.  It’s debuting at #38 and got to #5.

By the way, I discovered a while ago that Bryan Adams and Ryan Adams share a birthday (November 5, 15 years apart).  Coincidence?

American Top 40 PastBlast Redux, 7/17/76: Lou Rawls, “You’ll Never Find Another Love Like Mine”

Before I started this blog, I posted about songs from old AT40s on Facebook, January-July 2017. I’ve been moving them here over time, and this week I’m wrapping up with the last two I wrote pre-blog. This entry has been edited a little from the original.

Lou Rawls got his start with gospel groups in the 50s.  He grew up knowing Sam Cooke and sang backup on “Bring It On Home To Me.”   All told he had six AT40 hits; this one, a Gamble-Huff penned/produced slice of sweet Philly soul, was by far the biggest, reaching #2 (it’s at #32 and climbing in this countdown).  He had such a smooth, fantastic voice.

After his charting days were over, Mr. Rawls could be heard promoting Budweiser and his hometown Chicago’s WGN; additionally, he devoted a great deal of energy to an annual telethon to raise money for the United Negro College Fund.  He died at age 72 in early 2006.