The movie Rain Man had a personal connection. It had nothing to do with autism, though I did have an ex-girlfriend who once accused me of being slightly autistic.
The early portion of Rain Man – where Tom Cruise first meets Dustin Hoffman – takes place in Cincinnati, a city about forty-minutes from where I grew up and known to us as The City. So, I was familiar with some of the landmarks and places mentioned.
However, the real connection was when Cruise and Hoffman hit the road. Hoffman’s character tunes the radio to WOXY out of Oxford, Ohio. You might recall Hoffman incessantly repeating the station’s tagline – “97X, Bam! The future of rock and roll.”
97X just happened to be my station of choice for several years in high school. Oddly enough, according to the station’s page on Wikipedia, it began broadcasting as a modern rock station in September, 1983 and I had stumbled across it a month or so later.
It was the station where I heard Aztec Camera, Gang Of Four, The Suburbs, and other bands I wouldn’t hear elsewhere. It was the station to hear Talking Heads, Peter Gabriel, and U2.
It was even the station where I first heard Cyndi Lauper and Nena before they became mainstream pop sensations on Top 40 radio.
The thing that triggered me to think about 97X wasn’t coming across Rain Man on cable. Instead, it was a far more surprising event – a television commercial.
I’m not even sure what the commercial was pushing on me. It was the music that caught my attention. It was a song by a Welsh band called Freur called Doot Doot (not to be confused with Trio’s Da Da Da or The Police’ De Do Do Do De Da Da Da).
Freur was short-lived, but members of the band would go on to be Underworld and be global with their wonderful song Born Slippy from the movie Trainspotting. Apparently, Doot Doot was Freur’s lone hit in the UK and a small on – #59 – at that. I think it did little here in the States.
But I did hear it numerous times while listening to 97X in the winter of ‘83/84. I even had it recorded on a cassette. I haven’t heard it on the radio – or elsewhere – in twenty-five years.
I wouldn’t describe Doot Doot as rock and roll, but it certainly seems as though 97X knew something about the future.
Doot Doot and a few other songs I was hearing on 97X at the time…
Freur – Doot Doot
Freur – Doot Doot (12″ mix)
I was surprised to hear Modern English’s Melt With You in a commercial.
(the first time)
Of course, Melt With You was a fairly popular song in 1983 even if it wasn’t a massive mainstream radio hit. In seven years of working in record stores, I can remember seeing anything by Freur once, on an ‘80s compilation.
I hope the commercial makes it a hit twenty-six years later. It’s sparse and spacey with the earworm of a chorus being little more than the title.
Is there a more obscure song or artist to be used to sell humans products two decades after it was released?
(I’m guessing maybe Nick Drake would be in such a discussion)
Aztec Camera – Oblivious
from High Land, Hard Rain
During the winter of ’83/’84, few things could make the day less dreary than hearing the bouncy Oblivious. Whatever name you want to pin on it – New Wave, modern rock, alternative rock – there were some classic pop melodies in the ’80s.
Tom Tom Club- Pleasure Of Love
from Close To The Bone
Sure, everyone knows Genius Of Love (another ’80s song that’s made its way into a television commercial), but Talking Heads’ spin-off Tom Tom Club have released a handful of worthwhile albums.
Though not as groundbreaking as Genius Of Love, Pleasure Of Love, is, like most of Tom Tom Club’s songs and in the words of a friend, “music to eat pineapple to.”
It truly is.
ABC – That Was Then This Is Now
from Beauty Stab
ABC’s debut The Lexicon Of Love is widely regarded as a classic ’80s album. It wasn’t as wildly popular in the US as it was in the UK, but The Look Of Love and Poison Arrow got played on even the most pedestrian of Top 40 stations which I was listening to at the time.
That Was Then This Is Now, the first song from their follow-up, was something of a shock upon arrival. Yes, lead singer Martin Fry still croons (he can do nothing else), but the music is harder, more guitar-oriented, not the lush New Romantic/Roxy Music we had all come to know.
I liked it. The song wasn’t around long and I pretty much forgot about it ’til years later. It seems as though Beauty Stab is held in higher regard now than it was then.