Growing up in a basketball mad state should have made my friends and I rabid about the NBA franchise a mere two hours north of us.
No one was.
Yes, it was a basketball mad state, but that fervor was stoked by the high school teams dotting the hinterlands and the in-state college programs, several of which were national powers.
Our NBA team during those childhood years was mediocre at best and abysmal at worst.
Yet we were NBA fans and fans that were there as the league was suddenly becoming of interest to an increasing number of folks thanks to Larry Bird and Magic Johnson entering the NBA.
As we felt no strong allegiance to the state’s NBA franchise, we were more inclined to be fans of players than specific teams.
Of course, we loved the stars of the day – Bird, Magic, Dr. J – we all loved the good doctor – George Gervin, David Thompson, Alex English, Darrell Griffith, Sidney Moncrief, Gus Williams, Kareem, World B. Free…
There were also the non-marquee players who captured our imagination and, of these, none more than a spindly 6’11″forward for the Philadelphia 76ers named Caldwell Jones.
Caldwell was a teammate of Dr. J.
That was cool.
He had a way cool Afro and goatee.
And Caldwell was a rebounding machine.
Caldwell was a member of those seriously loaded Philadelphia ’76ers teams of the late ’70s and early ’80s.
Darryl Dawkins was breaking backboards and providing entertaining, fantastical quotes about the planet Lovetron.
Later on, Moses Malone arrived and the team won a title.
And though other players got more attention, Caldwell was in the line-up, blocking shots, grabbing rebounds, and hanging with Dr. J.
(I looked it up and the guy missed a mere ten games in his six seasons with the Sixers)
Well done, Mr. Jones.
Thirty-three years ago, Caldwell and the Sixers were halfway through a season that would end with them losing the finals to Magic, Kareem and the Los Angeles Lakers. At the time, I had far more interest in hoops than music.
However, here are four songs that I might have heard at the time as they were residing in the Top 40 of Billboard magazine’s Hot 100 in mid-January of 1980…
The Dirt Band – An American Dream
from An American Dream (1979)
An American Dream, written by Rodney Crowell and with Linda Ronstadt adding backing vocals, was one song which, even with my limited knowledge about pop music at the time, was quite familiar to me. It seemed to be on constant rotation on the jukebox of the bowling alley where my friends and I spent numerous hours loitering and playing pinball during the winter months of 1980.
It’s laid-back vibe and promise of a getaway to warmer climes had a distinct appeal to those of us mired in January in the Midwest.
Cheap Trick – Voices
from Dream Police (1979)
To paraphrase Mike Damone, it’s the magnetism of Robin Zander and the charisma of Rick Nielsen…
Hall & Oates – Wait For Me
from X-Static (1979)
Whether you listened to a lot of music in the ’80s or not, if you are old enough to have been there, you likely know (or would recognize) a good number of songs by Hall & Oates – Kiss On My List, Private Eyes, Maneater…
And twenty-five plus years later, the stuff holds up and seems to have earned a measure of belated respect. As good as their big hits were, the duo had a lot of hits that seem to have been forgotten a bit – Did It In A Minute and Family Man come to mind – that were pretty fantastic.
I’d put Wait For Me on that list, too.
Fleetwood Mac – Sara
from Tusk (1979)
I’ve read for years that Sara was about a child that Stevie Nicks’ had aborted.
I have no idea what Stevie’s going on about, but I don’t care. The haunting Sara might be her finest moment and it really does sound like someone “drowning in the sea of love.”