Drowning in the Tide

At the beginning of the year, I sketched an outline of the events and songs from thirty years ago that I thought I might feature in the Destination 89 series. Now essentially at the halfway point of the year, I took a look this morning to see how closely I’ve kept to it. The verdict: very well through mid-April, less so since. I hadn’t gone into this planning on doing periodic reviews of Billboard‘s Modern Rock Tracks chart, though that’s been a good deal of fun.

But I’ve slipped on getting to a few songs I’d planned on writing up in June–no time like the present to take care of it. Let’s see what I had in mind:

k. d. lang, “Trail of Broken Hearts”
lang got a good amount of play on VH-1 in the middle of 89 with this single from Absolute Torch and Twang. I wound up buying the disk more or less in real time; her voice is a gift. I always loved watching the big sky scenes in this clip.


Fetchin Bones, “Deep Blue”
Greg introduced me to Monster, the fifth album from North Carolina band Fetchin Bones, about a year after it was released. The raucous “Love Crushing” would appear on the Modern Rock Charts in August and September of 89, but this much softer number (apparently not representative of their overall work) appealed to me much more, enough to include on a mix tape I made in 91. Since there’s a video, maybe it was the second single?


Syd Straw, “Think Too Hard”
Last October I wrote about the Golden Palominos’ 85 song “(Kind of) True,” and how much Syd Straw’s vocal performance had drawn me to it. By 89, Straw had gotten a contract, releasing her debut solo disk Surprise at the beginning of June. “Future 40s (String of Pearls),” with Michael Stipe on backup vocals, was the first featured track (it too would make the Modern Rock chart in August), but “Think Too Hard” was the one that really got my attention.


Stan Ridgway, “A Mission in Life”
Mosquitos had been released a little before the albums from lang, Fetchin Bones, and Straw–they all came out in June. It would still be a few months after this before I borrowed it from my friend Jon. “Goin’ Southbound” was on the Modern Rock charts earlier in June, and I could have featured it in my writeup then. But I really wanted to play “A Mission in Life,” the last track on the disk, instead. For whatever reason, it didn’t make an impression thirty years ago; it’s only been the last eighteen months that I’ve really paid close attention to and fallen in love with it.

One of the YouTube commenters writes: “This song sums up the stupidity and mundanity, but ultimately, the affirmation of life for me really. It has everything covered, boredom, the futility of life, loneliness, cheating on your partner etc. And yet, it makes me want to be nothing else but alive and part of the problem. Genius!!”

Can’t disagree too much with that. It’s a masterful, moving piece.


I’m closer to back on track now. July and August were busy months for me thirty years ago, with a fair amount of travel mixed in. More on that soon.

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