“It’s Just Time, It’s Not Like It Means Anything”*

November 3, 2012

clocksTonight is the end of Daylight Savings Time, a ritual that is still odd to me.

I grew up in one of two small areas in the US that didn’t kowtow to The Man on the issue of Daylight Savings Time. Aside from some time in Southeast Asia, I was into my twenties before I ever moved a clock forward or set one back. I let time do its thing.

Then, I was suddenly a forced participant in this national game of Hokey Pokey with a chronological twist.

Now, after weeks of adjusting to making the morning commute in the dark, I have to reorient to the dawning sun on the horizon, manhandling my still sleeping retinas as I speed along.

It also adds an added level of complexity to an item that has been a staple in every phone conversation with my mom ever since I left home.

“What time is it there?”

“What time is it there?

(it’s not as though she has to calculate Pi)

Well, the time changed last night.”

(her tone indicates that it is entirely possible that she holds hobgoblins in the night responsible)

“It’s Sunday.”

Mom is not amused. I rehash how time zones work and the unchanging fact that, so long as both of us live where we do, it will always be an hour later there, no matter what hobgoblins might do with the clocks.

But, to quote a line from the movie Some Kind Of Wonderful, directed by the late John Hughes, “It’s just time, it’s not like it means anything.”

There were hundreds of songs with time in the title when I searched the hard drive. Here is a quartet…

Alan Parsons Project – Time
from The Turn Of A Friendly Card (1980)

They might have had progressive leanings, but one-time Abbey Road Studios engineer Alan Parsons’ collective also produced some masterful singles. The ultra-wistful Time is an autumn song to me.

My Bloody Valentine – We Have All The Time In The World
from Peace Together (1993)

Peace Together was a compilation, a charity record for some organization promoting peace in Northern Ireland. My first trip to the UK coincided with the Good Friday Peace Accord which happened four years later.

As a kid in the States in the late ’70s/early ’80s, the troubles in Ireland were inscrutible. All I really understood was that a lot of folks were suffering, mostly ordinary people who merely wanted to live their lives. To watch the news, it seemed like an intractable war.

Three decades later, it seems as though that conflict has been mostly resolved. The relative calm in Northern Ireland now might be the lone thing that gives me hope the major conflicts in the world today might also reach some, if not perfect, at least benign resolution.

Culture Club – Time (Clock Of The Heart)
from Kissing To Be Clever (1983)

I have no qualms in declaring an affection for Culture Club. Boy George had a fantastic voice and they had more than a few brilliantly frothy pop songs – Do You Really Want To Hurt Me, Church Of The Poison Mind, Victims

They also had some godawful stuff.

(I’ll Tumble 4 Ya immediately comes to mind)

Time (Clock Of The Heart) is one of the former and sounds timeless. When she hears the song, Paloma reacts like I do to bacon.

Matthew Ryan – Time And Time Only
from East Autumn Grin (2000)

I used to take smoke breaks with Ryan when we worked together many years ago. Good times.

It’s been awhile since I heard one of his albums, but I thought his first few releases were pretty compelling collections. The dire Time And Time Only makes Springsteen’s Nebraska sound positively giddy.

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Thirty Years Out From The Future

October 1, 2012

It was during 1982 that I first began purchasing music on an ongoing basis. I was hindered by the nearest actual record stores being fifty miles away and me and my buddies being thirteen-, fourteen-year old kids with little money and no driver’s licenses.

Those circumstances had conspired to keep my music collection to two-dozen or so cassettes as the first chilly mornings of autumn arrived that year.

(a significant portion of that collection courtesy of Columbia Record & Tape Club)

I doubt that I was aware of the arrival of the first CD player hitting stores in Japan.

It’s quite likely that I first heard of compact disc technology from my buddy Beej who, even then, had a subscription to Stereo Review and was citing Julian Hirsch “of Hirsch-Houck Laboratories.”

I was listening to music through the most basic of means.

I couldn’t get to Cincinnati to buy Hall & Oates H2O and probably didn’t have the eight dollars and change to do so. The price tag of Sony’s CDP-101 – around $750 – and the item being available in Japan made it something for the jet set.

By the time I reached college, the price of the players had finally reached levels affordable to mere mortals, but I was still hesitant to take the digital plunge with a collection of hundreds of albums on cassette.

As the school year was closing in on spring break in March of ’87, it was a paper for a business writing class that proved to be the tipping point. I opted to write about the burgeoning digital revolution and, after several weeks of research and writing, I had convinced myself.

As other classmates headed for tropical climes, I made the two-hour trip to my hometown for a week of reconnecting with several high school buddies.

During that week, we made a trip into Cincinnati – a trek we had made a year before as often as we could acquire transportation – and I joined the jet set, purchasing a floor model of a Technics CD player for, as I recall, $165.

I would have thought you to be addled had you told me that rainy March day that, over the next fifteen years, I would own upwards of 8000 CDs.

Here are songs from the first four discs that I ever played on that first CD player…

Bob Geldof – This Is The World Calling
from Deep In The Heart Of Nowhere (1986)

After purchasing the CD player, I summarily purchased two CDs with one being the solo debut by Boomtown Rats lead singer Bob Geldof and I’m not sure why. I’d bought the cassette of Deep In The Heart Of Nowhere when it was released toward the end of ’86 and was underwhelmed.

However I had just read Geldof’s autobiography, Is That It?, so that might have been the catalyst. With Eurythmic Dave Stewart co-producing I expected more, but the songs just weren’t there.

This Is The World Calling was one of the few exceptions. The anthemic plea featured the trio of Maria McKee, Annie Lennox, and Alison Moyet on backing vocals.

Rush – Territories
from Power Windows (1985)

Power Windows was the other CD I snagged for my new player and, like the Geldof disc, is a bit puzzling in retrospect not least in the respect that it had been released eighteen months earlier.

However, I had gotten into Rush heavily during my last couple years of high school and I did quite like Power Windows (and had seen the band on that tour). Territories was one of several tracks from the album that got played heavily on the rock stations that I was listening to and I loved the lyrical reduction of warring nations to a squabble for “better people…better food…and better beer.”

Canada, if I haven’t said so before, thanks for Rush.

(seriously, I find it comforting to know that Alex, Geddy, and The Professor are out there)

The Alan Parsons Project – Old And Wise
from The Best Of The Alan Parsons Project (1983)

In addition to the two CDs I initially bought, my buddy Streuss temporarily gifted me a pair of discs that he owned despite not having a CD player.

Several of us were fans of The Alan Parsons Project who had been a radio fixture during the first half of the ’80s with songs like Games People Play, Eye In The Sky, and Don’t Answer Me. At the time I bought my player, the duo of Alan Parsons and Eric Woolfson had just released Gaudi which would prove to be their final release under The Alan Parsons Project banner.

Of those first discs from which I had to choose as I got to know the crisp sound of the medium, The Best Of The Alan Parsons Project sounded the most impressive, but, then again, Parsons, as an Abbey Road engineer, did earn credits for his work on The Beatles’ Abbey Road and Pink Floyd’s Dark Side Of The Moon.

Old And Wise is a track from Eye In The Sky which I used to hear a lot on one of the soft rock stations and is most certainly a whisper of a song. With lead vocals provided by ex-Zombie Colin Blunstone, Old And Wise is reminiscent of the earlier Project hit Time.

The Moody Blues – The Voice
from Voices In The Sky: The Best Of The Moody Blues (1984)

The other disc Streuss passed to me was a Moody Blues compilation.

I knew Nights In White Satin and the band had hits while I was in high school like Gemini Dream, Sitting At The Wheel, and Your Wildest Dreams, but I was fairly ambivalent.

But, I had four CDs from which to choose and a new toy, so I gave the disc a lot of plays. I remained fairly ambivalent, but the breezy The Voice seemed less fussy than most of the other songs.

And, if I hear The Voice, I first think of seeing the Solid Gold dancers dance to the song during the summer of ’81.


Sooooo…The Phone Can Tell Me If It’s Raining?

May 12, 2012

I have never negotiated a hostage release.

I am not a surgeon awaiting word that an organ needed for me to perform a transplant is on ice.

Those are two of a cornucopia of reasons that I didn’t bother getting a cellphone until two years ago.

The phone I have is basic, a mere conveyance for telecommunication that would have been an impressive device in a ’70s sci-fi flick from my childhood.

It would have still wowed us when I was in college and Gordon Gekko had a mobile phone the size of a brick pressed to his head.

My phone doesn’t talk to me or advise me.

I keep seeing a commercial for the iPhone in which Zooey Deschanel asks her phone if it’s raining.

Her home doesn’t appear to be very large. In fact, it has a cozy bungalow feel. So, unless the place isn’t hers and she secretely lives in the attic, there has to be a window within a few steps.

In fact, as the voice in the phone gives an affirmative on the precipitation, Zooey is shown peering out the window.

Thus, you might not need a weatherman, to know which way the wind blows, but apparently a talking phone is needed to know if it is raining.

I’ve read that mountain gorillas in the wild have been observed to remain in their nests, delaying the start of their day, if they wake and it is raining.

Without a phone to tell them, the gorillas are able to figure out that it is indeed raining and have the good sense to stay in bed.

Undoubtedly, they will be ruling the planet in the future.

A search for songs about “talk” yielded a few dozen. Here are four of them that seemed good for today…

The Tubes – Talk To Ya Later
from The Completion Backward Principle (1981)

I was well acquainted with The Tubes via a high school buddy who worshipped the band. Though The Completion Backward Principle probably mortified long-time fans of the band’s more outrageous stuff, my friends and I loved it.

The slick, new-wave tinged Talk To Ya Later featured Toto’s Steve Lukather on guitar was infectious beyond belief and its title became our salutation for years to come.

A Flock Of Seagulls – (It’s Not Me) Talking
from Listen (1983)

When A Flock Of Seagulls arrived with I Ran (So Far Away) and their self-titled debut, I quickly adopted the Liverpool quartet as my own. I was hearing the music of the future and I wasn’t about to be left behind.

The future was short-lived, but it was fun while it lasted and the band left behind more than just their lone hit in an underrated catalog that produced two wildly entertaining albums.

The hyperkinteic (It’s Not Me) Talking is about a man who believes that he is receiving messages from aliens in his head.

The Alan Parsons Project – Let’s Talk About Me
from Vulture Culture (1985)

The progressive-pop/rock consortium The Alan Parsons produced a string of successful albums during the latter half of the ’70s and early ’80s. Songs like I Wouldn’t Want To Be Like You, Games People Play, Eye In The Sky, and Don’t Answer Me were radio staples during those years.

Vulture Culture marked the beginning of the decline in The Alan Parsons Project’s commercial fortunes. However, I did hear the catchy Let’s Talk About Me fairly often on rock radio during the spring of ’85.

Bongwater – Everybody’s Talkin’
from The Big Sell-Out (1992)

I discovered the avant-garde, art-rock duo Bongwater through Paloma with their gorgeous cover of Roky Erickson’s You Don’t Love Me, Yet on a various artist tribute to the Austin cult musician.

On The Big Sell-Out, Bongwater’s final release, the pair offered up a strange, surreal take on the Fred Neil/Harry Neilsen classic Everybody’s Talkin’ that reimagines it as a spoken word tale delivered by a failed actress who has had a nervous breakdown and believes she is actually working with suicidal people.