(Paloma is like a ninja somehow resetting all of the numerous timepieces in the treehouse so swiftly, so deftly that I never see her do it, but the feat is accomplished by the time I awake)
As the citizens of my hometown were ignoring the changing of the times in autumn, 1984, my friends and I had all reached our sixteenth birthdays and, thus, all had our drivers licenses for the first time.
The end of Daylight Savings Time did not go completely unnoticed. Most of the radio and television stations we received were broadcast out of Southwestern Ohio. The clocks moving back in Cincinnati meant having to stay up later to watch the end of Monday Night Football and hear Dandy Don Meredith croon.
The upside was that we gained an hour to troll the record stores and malls on treks into the city.
During the summer months, by the time one of us procured transportation, it was usually after someone’s parents or older sibling had returned home from work.
(my buddy Beej often loaned himself his brother’s Datsun B210 which we had nicknamed, for reasons unexplained, The Invisible Jet)
We often had to make tactical decisions regarding which record stores to hit in a limited timeframe and the last scheduled stop hinged upon closing times.
Invariably, we would underestimate the time spent elsewhere and these junkets often ended with us hurriedly searching through the aisles of Peaches as clerks eager to close for the night were turning down the lights.
There was no rush like taking a roa trip and returning with new music. Though I was branching out at the time and listening to more alternative rock, I was still tentative when it came to actually parting with the little cash I had. So, I was still tethered to buying more mainstream stuff.
Here are four songs from purchases that autumn…
Julian Lennon – Valotte
from Valotte (1984)
For folks who grew up with The Beatles, it must have been a bit trippy to hear the voice of John Lennon’s son when Valotte arrived and became a big hit. The title track was all over radio that fall and the sparse, lovely song simply sounded like autumn.
Tommy Shaw – Girls With Guns
from Girls With Guns (1984)
If you grew up in the Midwest in the late ’70s/early ’80s, there was probably a great likelihood that you owned something by Styx, be it The Grand Illusion, Pieces Of Eight, or Paradise Theater. It seemed half the kids in our high school had a well-worn t-shirt commemorating one Styx tour or another.
For me, Styx was my first concert experience and, though I quickly soured on the band with Kilroy Was Here, the punchy title track to guitarist Tommy Shaw’s first solo album caught my ear at the time and was enough to lure me in.
Toto – Stranger In Town
from Isolation (1984)
I’d worn out the cassette of Toto’s mega-selling Toto IV that I’d purchased from the Columbia Record & Tape Club. The band was hardly reinventing fire, but to a kid just discovering pop music, it was a thoroughly engaging collection of pop/rock that clicked with me even beyond the hits like Rosanna and Africa.
Isolation arrived a good two years after Toto IV. It was a lengthy gap between records for the time. Toto had changed and so had I, but I totally dug the mysterious vibe of Stranger In Town, which – based on how quickly the album vanished – must have put me in the minority.
Big Country – Steeltown
from Steeltown (1984)
Though just a year after becoming a sensation in the US with In A Big Country, Steeltown was greeted with a yawn in the States. It got excellent reviews and deservedly so as, even without a hit, it’s a better album than their debut.
The title track has a thunderous cadence reminiscent of In A Big Country. It’s bone-rattling.