Modern Rock Tracks, 4/11/92

By mid-April 1992, my job search for a college math position was languishing. An interview in February at a regional school in northwest Indiana had bombed (looking back it’s easy to see that now; then, I had to be told by the chair of the search committee just how far down I was on their ranked list of interviewed candidates). Around this time, a small school in Illinois to which I’d applied did send me a letter, essentially offering me a job sight unseen. That, along with the accompanying minuscule salary, set off enough red flags to cause me to quickly decline. I was beginning to countenance the possibility of staying at UIUC another year, leading me to put off scheduling the defense of my dissertation.

Probably the most memorable event of the spring was a trip to Maryland that Greg, Karl, and I took over a long Easter weekend to see Greg’s wife Katie. Like this year, Easter fell pretty late in 1992, on April 19. All three of us had research assistantships without teaching duties that spring, so we left early on Thursday morning in my 1986 Camry, easily the most reliable of the vehicles at our disposal.

It’s about 700 miles between Urbana, IL, and the Maryland suburbs northeast of DC, so despite switching off drivers, it was a pretty long day. We all crashed at Katie’s apartment–being poor grad students, Karl and I slept on couches or in sleeping bags on the living room floor. It was nice to meet Chrissie and Lisa, Katie’s roommates (and also first-year math grad students at UMD), after learning some about them over the previous months via Greg and Katie’s phone conversations.

It was a pretty laid-back time. I don’t recall going into DC to do any sightseeing–I imagine overall we stayed within a decent radius of the apartment, though I’m sure a visit to a record store or two was high on the list of things to do. I tuned into the alternative station WHFS when I could, as I had done three months earlier when in Baltimore for the math conference where I’d had some initial interviews.

The guys did drive up to Baltimore ‘s Inner Harbor on Friday evening to see the fourth-ever game at Oriole Park at Camden Yards–we sat in the right field bleachers.

The O’s won 8-0, the fourth consecutive time one of the teams had failed to score in the new park. Rick Sutcliffe started for Baltimore, pitching the last of his career 18 complete-game shutouts; the offensive hero was first baseman Randy Milligan, who had two jacks and 6 RBI. The main thing I recall from the evening, though, is the razzing from the fans (one of whom might have been Greg) that Rob Deer, playing RF for the Tigers, endured throughout.

On the way home on Easter, we made the mistake of assuming that a straight line was the quickest way between two points, and lost a few hours on the back roads of northern West Virginia and southern Ohio. I don’t know now whether it was planned in advance, but we veered a little south to Florence to spend Sunday night with my parents and sister (who happened to be home at the time), arriving back in IL on Monday afternoon. A long trip for a short visit, but well worth it.

As for what was on the Modern Rock Tracks chart (and likely WHFS’s playlist) at the time, well, let’s take a gander…

30. Cowboy Junkies, “Murder, Tonight, in the Trailer Park”
This still-active Canadian outfit, best known for their cover of the Velvet Underground’s “Sweet Jane,” never could quite break through. At one point I owned Black Eyed Man but I’m not finding it in my collection now.

28. Tori Amos, “Silent All These Years”
My favorite song of the year, from my favorite album of the year. I’d picked up Little Earthquakes by this time, and Greg and I had already connected Amos to her past life as Y Kant Tori Read.

WHFS was also playing her version of “Smells Like Teen Spirit” (which is included on the soon-to-be-released “Crucify” EP) while we were visiting.

27. Peter Case, “Dream About You”
I like Case’s third solo album, Six-Pack of Love, quite a bit–I believe I bought it on that trip. While I get the criticism about Mitchell Froom’s (over-)production, “Dream About You” is still a pop delight.

20. E, “Hello Cruel World”
I was last-week-years-old, doing research for my radio show featuring many of the songs on this chart, when I learned that E (Mark Oliver Everett) went on to found the band Eels (“Novacaine for the Soul”) later in the decade. This catchy number deserved more attention.

18. Lush, “For Love”
If Lush is on the countdown, you can be sure I’m going to note it and embed a video. “For Love” was their second and last MRT Top 10 song. It’ll be another four years before they appear here again (how “Hypocrite,” from Split, didn’t score remains a mystery to me).

17. Nirvana, “Come As You Are”
Currently, the owner of the second-longest run on the chart (13 weeks)–the endurance champ is still to come.

10. Red Hot Chili Peppers, “Under the Bridge”
I’m not a big RHCP fan by any means, but I’ve always really, really liked “Under the Bridge.” Can’t help but note, though, that seemingly every song of theirs I’ve heard on the radio since bears at least some resemblance to it.

9. Concrete Blonde, “Ghost of a Texas Ladies’ Man
Johnette and company had peaked in various ways with their previous release Bloodletting; I wasn’t as impressed with this first single from Walking in London.

7. James, “Born of Frustration”
Seven came out on the heels of the re-recorded “Sit Down” from the previous year. “Born of Frustration” was its second single, but the only one to make a dent in the U.S.

5. The Sugarcubes, “Hit”
It’s been a long time since I’d heard “Hit,” but after taking a listen preparing this post, I can unequivocally say it’s the ‘Cubes best song–I’d completely forgotten how good it is. Stick Around for Joy was their swan song, though–in just over a year, we’d be treated to Björk’s first solo project, Debut.

4. Sarah McLachlan, “Into the Fire”
The song that informed us that McLachlan was well on her way. The stuff on Vox is nice enough, but “Into the Fire” was a major step forward. Likely my favorite of hers.

3. David Byrne, “She’s Mad”
From his second post-Heads solo album Uh-Oh. The video has lots of special effects that were revolutionary at the time but sure feel dated now. I do like the line, “If sex is a weapon, who’s winning the war?”

2. U2, “One”
The previous week’s #1, in its fifteenth of twenty-three weeks in MRT-land. Sure, Bono’s lyrics got more and more precious over time, but I’m giving him a pass on this tune.

1. The Cure, “High”
Wish was about a week away from its release. “High” isn’t the album’s most enduring track–we’ll be featuring that one in June–but it definitely satisfied Cure fans’ appetites after almost three years without new material.

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