From The Archives: Operation Hometown

In 1963 my maternal grandfather served as President of the Campbell-Kenton Medical Society. He held on to many items–meeting minutes, his acceptance speech, a plaque honoring his year of service–from that time. Another of these artifacts was a packet with suggested copy for ten radio spots speaking against King-Anderson, which we now know as Medicare. Operation Hometown was in large part an effort of the American Medical Association.


A reminder that the fight about health care goes back many decades.

WTLX Mix Tapes: Side 1, Song 6

Note: This series originally appeared on Facebook in a slightly different form, Aug-Sept 16.

The W. T. Young Student Center opened at Transy in December 83. (A cassette of Fall 83 hits I recorded in the WTLX studio rests in the time capsule for the Young Center. I still have a copy of the playlist, but that’s a topic for another time.) Since these were pre-cable-in-dorm-room days, we visited the big-screen projection TV in the student center when we wanted our MTV. I spent many an hour in 84 and 85 hanging with, among others, James Kolasa and Warren Moore, lampooning many of the videos and commercials. Of course, we also saw plenty of songs that one or more of us actually liked. It was a major time sink but I look back on those days when they programmed only videos with quite a bit of fondness.

This is another song I learned about via MTV, though not at the time of its release. A cover by 10,000 Maniacs in their post-Natalie Merchant era was a moderate hit in 1997, but it doesn’t hold a candle to the original. The opening notes of the Roxy Music version are just so striking to me; it’s a mesmerizing tune.

SotD: Sufjan Stevens, “Concerning the UFO Sighting Near Highland, Illinois”

I wish this song were three-to-four times as long as it is.  The haunting piano line, the unusual time signatures, the understated vocals–it all adds up to one mesmerizing tune.  The images provided by the person who posted this to YouTube only enhance the experience.

There are several great tracks on Stevens’ Come on Feel the Illinoise–I’m suspecting others will appear in the space eventually.

WTLX Mix Tapes: Side 1, Song 5

Note: This series originally appeared on Facebook in a slightly different form, Aug-Sept 16.

Over the years I’ve tended to enjoy the music I’ve heard that’s come from Australia. Throughout my high school years, Little River Band singles were usually among my favorites. I like Rick Springfield more than some, though he hardly has an Aussie sound. Men At Work were huge my freshman year of college. Later in the 80s, there was INXS, Midnight Oil, The Church, and Icehouse, among plenty of others. If you allow New Zealand in the mix, then you can toss in Split Enz and Crowded House (“Don’t Dream It’s Over” is in my personal Hall of Fame for singles). Perhaps my favorite album of all time is 16 Lovers Lane by the Go-Betweens.

This Australian band never got much traction in the US. I imagine I first heard this song on MTV in Fall 1984 and pretty quickly rushed out to buy the single. I loved, loved, loved this, and I guess I still do. The interwebs tell me it reached #2 in Australia but only #65 in the US. I think it should have been a big hit here, but this wasn’t the first or last time the public’s tastes didn’t conform to mine.

For the record, the full title of the song is “Heaven (Must Be There)”.

WTLX Mix Tapes: Side 1, Song 4

Note: This series originally appeared on Facebook in a slightly different form, Aug-Sept 16.

When I was a freshman, WTLX wasn’t very active. The following year, my classmate Kevin took over as station manager and definitely got things going. One area he had to address was the station’s music library. There was a lot of vinyl in it, but the vast majority was either out of date or too obscure (a few songs from what we inherited make an appearance in this series, however). Kevin used our music budget to aggressively add to the library his three years as manager. While most of the $ went to 45s, he judiciously added LPs as well, mostly greatest hits collections. This comes from one of those LPs.

“Cocaine” was the B-side of a two-sided single (with “Tulsa Time”); it peaked at #30 in August 80. The whole 7-plus minutes was regularly played on top-40 radio in Cincinnati back in the day.

During recording, the needle jumped the groove on this song four times. I played the tape so much in the late 80s that those skips are part of the song for me now.

American Top 40 PastBlast: 7/25/81

Jim Steinman wrote some of the most overwrought music of the late 70s/early 80s. We first encountered him on Meat Loaf’s Bat Out of Hell (“Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad,” “Paradise by the Dashboard Light,” “You Took the Words Right Out of My Mouth”). Perhaps his crowning achievement came in October 83 when he wrote the songs in spots #1 and #2 (“Total Eclipse of the Heart” and “Making Love Out of Nothing At All”).   He also penned Barry Manilow’s last Top 40 song (“Read ‘em and Weep”). To be honest, I liked the Meat Loaf and Bonnie Tyler songs pretty well, but man, some of his metaphors are really tortured.

In the middle of all that, he released the album Bad For Good under his own name, though he didn’t do vocals on all of the songs. (I’m thinking the title tune is a Paul Hunter song.) One of those sung by Rory Dodd (he’s best known for “Turn around, bright eyes” in “Total Eclipse”) was released as a single and made it to #32 in the late summer of 81 (it’s #37 here). Yes, it’s got most of the histrionics of his other stuff, but I’m really fond of it–I guess I relate to its theme of the power of music! Takes me back to a particular moment in time, right before my senior year in HS.

WTLX Mix Tapes: Side 1, Song 3

Note: This series originally appeared on Facebook in a slightly different form, Aug-Sept 16.

By complete coincidence, the next song is from the other, much better known, rock band to emerge from Champaign in the 70’s.

I started buying 45s in the summer of 1976 and continued (at least occasionally) until just about the time they stopped producing them. I frequently would check out the B-sides and over the years came across many gems (my favorite is almost certainly Fleetwood Mac’s “Silver Springs,” the flip of “Go Your Own Way”). I first encountered this song as the B-side of “Keep on Loving You.”

One of the few albums I owned in high school was Hi Infidelity. Listening to this one, “Out of Season,” and “Tough Guys” (all of which I prefer to a couple of the singles) takes me back to late summer 1981, just before my senior year of HS…

American Top 40 PastBlast: 7/25/70

American Top 40 was first broadcast the weekend of July 4, 1970 on seven radio stations, mostly in CA. For the first ten months of the show’s existence, they used Billboard chart data from the following week (for instance, the 7/4/70 show used the 7/11/70 chart). I’m citing the chart date above, so this countdown was the third one overall. It’s no surprise that Casey’s delivery and style evolved in the eighteen years he did AT40. Based on shows I’ve heard over the past five years, it took him over a year to hit his stride, particularly in developing his storytelling chops. In the very early days, his patter was overall more rushed and clipped than later on.

Melanie Safka is best known for her #1 hit “Brand New Key,” which plenty of folks find really annoying (I’m okay with it); this one was her first hit. It was at its peak position of #6 on the first AT40 broadcast, and had fallen to #10 here. It’s about her experience performing at Woodstock. I find it pretty powerful. The Edwin Hawkins Singers (“O Happy Day”) are doing the backup work. Pleased to find a video for this one, though I have no idea why she’s hanging around with those big concrete pipes…

SotD: Maria Taylor, “Song Beneath the Song”

Ms. Taylor is absolutely right that subtext is important and “true meaning” is often not as it might first appear.  I fully expect there’s a song beneath my song in some (much?) of what I think, feel, and write.

Sometimes, though, that top layer is awfully nice, as it is here.  It’s another one of my Pandora discoveries.

WTLX Mix Tapes: Side 1, Song 2 (woohoo)

Note: This series originally appeared on Facebook in a slightly different form, Aug-Sept 16.

YouTube veterans know that when a song doesn’t have an official video, there’s often one consisting of just a still shot of the album cover for the visuals. Suffice it to say that you may see a fair amount of that sort of thing in this series. I hope you’re checking in for the music…

Today’s tune is from 75. It was a big regional hit in the Midwest and climbed to #68 late that year. I remember hearing it quite a bit on album rock stations when I was in high school. Since I don’t listen much to classic rock anymore, I don’t know how much it gets played much today, but I still think it’s a great one. In doing a bit of research on Head East for this post, I learned that they essentially formed in one of my old stomping grounds: Champaign, Illinois.