I’ll Meet You On The Vast Plains

As I write this, I’ve got one class and a department meeting to go before the second week of the semester is done. It’s fair to say that I’m worn down (and not exactly pumped for that weekly 4pm meeting). Some of it’s normal–being “on” in the classroom takes its toll on an introvert–but I imagine a good bit of it is the stress of being in a room with folks for 75 minutes at a time, one or more of whom might be an asymptomatic COVID carrier. I might feel a little more at ease if a few students wore their masks just a little more carefully.

Four days a week, my routine has often been something like this: 1) arrive and do final prep for first class; 2) teach first class; 3) close myself up in the office for three hours (eat the lunch I’ve brought, final prep for second class, grade/advance prep, look at Twitter feed a bit); 4) teach second class; 5) Zoom with a couple of students, a little more prep; 6) go home, maybe grade/prep some more after dinner. Due to the alternative schedule we’ve implemented, Wednesday gets to be a bit of a catch-up day for me. But I’m missing that ability to go down the hall to talk with a colleague, help a student out in the lobby, actually see people.

I do understand I’ve got it better than so many, and there are plenty of people who’d be happy to do what I’m doing. Still, I’m likely not functioning at full capacity. If I feel this tired now, after just two weeks, I’m wondering how it’ll be after six.

A couple of nights ago I was in need of a musical pick-me-up, a happy song from happier times. Scanning my CD shelves, I landed on a disk with a minor AOR hit from my second year in grad school. A little research revealed that the song ascended to a #23 peak on Billboard‘s Album Rock Tracks chart dated 11/21/87. Before we get to it, though, there was enough interesting stuff in that chart’s top 10 to stop along the way and note most of them…

#1: Bruce Springsteen, “Tunnel of Love”
#2: John Cougar Mellencamp, “Cherry Bomb”
#3: Robbie Robertson, “Showdown at Big Sky”
#4: George Harrison, “Got My Mind Set on You”

The Mellencamp was a song that played a role one time I was an on-air contestant, written up here. There are three more songs from Cloud Nine and two others from the Boss on this chart, too.

#6: Yes, “Rhythm of Love”
#9: Yes, “Love Will Find a Way”

A third song from Big Generator is farther down the list. This album was overall a Big Disappointment after the delightful 90125. While I’ve always liked the sound of “Love Will Find a Way” in spite of its dopey lyrics (“I eat at chez nous” is terrible grammar, besides), “Rhythm of Love” just never did anything for me.

#7: Rush, “Time Stand Still”
I’d definitely read an article telling the story of how Aimee Mann got to join in on this.

#10. Bourgeois Tagg, “I Don’t Mind at All”
Completely underrated Beatles-flavored tune. Made it to just #38 on the Hot 100.

The other songs in the Top 10 are tracks from Floyd and Tull that I don’t remember. There are multiple cuts from Document, Kick, …Nothing Like the Sun, and Permanent Vacation to be found on the chart, too.

But back to the reason for the post. The Radiators were a New Orleans bar/club band that worked their way up to a major-label deal in the late 80s. None of their three albums for Epic exactly broke through, but back in that fall of 1987, WPGU played “Like Dreamers Do,” from Law of the Fish, often enough for me to realize it was quite the mood-brightener. After hearing it again this week for the first time in a good while, I’ll be sure to add “mad molecule” to my repertoire of offbeat terms of endearment.

Like everyone else, I’m ready to be out and about, doing some honest, face-to-face interaction with folks. With extended family, friends from high school, college, grad school, work, church, and fellow bloggers I’ve never met in real life. A big party, somewhere out on a vast plain.

A guy can dream, right?

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