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.

 

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