It all began with Paloma wondering about a co-worker at the record store where we met.
A bit of sleuthing and I had stumbled on a cybertrail that included Scandanavian Elvis impersonators, Presley’s optomitrist, a dodgy German politician, and a military general from Southeast Asia.
The bizarre cast of associates of our former associate has left me bumfoozled.
As I examine the sketchy characters in my mind, it almost makes sense. I can imagine this former co-worker getting involved in some scenario resembling a movie by the Coen brothers.
And each time I’ve sat down to write, I wonder how it all might connect.
It’s a mental hiccup that I can’t shake.
But, fortune smiled. I happened across the movie Rain Man on cable the other morning and I remembered an I idea I had.
Eighteen months or so ago, I was inspired by a viewing of the flick as it is set and was filmed in areas near where I had grown up. Rain Man also features a cameo from my favorite childhood radio station – the late, great 97X.
(““97X, Bam! The future of rock and roll.”)
I decided to remember the station with four random songs from an early ’80s 97X playlist I’d created each time I stumbled across Rain Man on cable.
I thought it might be a semi-regular feature here as I seemed to find the movie while surfing every couple months.
(or so I thought)
And, yet, it’s apparently been a year and a half since such a run-in occurred.
So, as the idea of Elvis impersonators running guns or former co-workers interacting with the leader of some military junta bounce around in my head, here are four random songs I might have heard on 97X, circa ’84, ’85…
The Cure – Let’s Go To Bed
from Greatest Hits
By 1985, I would be well acquainted with The Cure as my buddy Streuss had become damn-near obssessed with the band. At that time, the British act was just beginning to get attention in the States with their album The Head On The Door, but Streuss quickly acquired the rest of their catalog as pricey imports.
I also heard plenty by The Cure on 97X. Let’s Go To Bed wouldn’t make any list I’d make of favorite songs by The Cure (who I do think made a lot of fantastic music), but the surpringly perky track got played incessantly on the station.
Beat Farmers – Happy Boy
from Tales Of The New West
Ninety seconds of pure goofiness, hubba hubba hubba hubba hubba.
X – Burning House of Love
from Beyond And Back: The X Anthology
I want to like L.A. punk legends X.
I really do.
But it hasn’t really happened. I think Exene and John Doe are cool, but the songs that resonate with me are scattered throughout the band’s catelog and tend to be the twangier ones like the stellar Burning House Of Love.
Jimmy Cliff – The Harder They Come
from In Concert: The Best of Jimmy Cliff
97X was the first place that I think I ever really heard reggae on the radio – Bob Marley, Peter Tosh, Burning Spear…even stuff from Musical Youth that wasn’t Pass The Dutchie.
The station also played Jimmy Cliff’s ebullient The Harder They Come. The song is the title track to the ’70s cult movie with Cliff starring as an aspiring reggae singer.
I saw the movie years ago and honestly have no recollection of whether I liked it or not, but the song is a keeper.