Two For Tuesday

March 8, 2011

Once I reached college – and easy access to a dozen record stores – Tuesday was indelibly stamped into my music-centric mind as new release day.

Tuesday remained a linchpin of the week for me because of music well into the ’90s and my thirties.

But in high school, new releases would have to wait for a trek into Cincinnati as the lone store in our hometown that carried music stocked a small selection. New titles might take weeks to arrive after release to the civilized world.

Music was the stuff that held together my fairly eclectic cast of friends and, more weeks than not, most of us were anticipating something that we wanted as soon as it hit the racks.

The wait could seem interminable.

If the title was a lesser-known act, it might make for a scavenger hunt involving dozens of visits to a number of record stores over weeks, even months to be in the right store at the right time to find what you desired.

By our senior year, we began to swing the odds in our favor. There would always be a handful of us ditching Tuesday and getting to the record stores as they opened.

It was usually Cincinnati, but, depending on who had procured transportation and, thus, was leading the junket, we might end up in Indianapolis.

If Naptown was the destination, we were usually listening to Q95 as the station’s mix of classic rock and (then) current stuff had something for all of us.

And Tuesdays meant “two for Tuesdays” – all day the station played back-to-back songs by each act. I’m sure it was hardly an uncommon gimmick, but I don’t recall any of the other rock stations we could dial up using it.

Acts with new or relatively new releases were often favored on Q95’s Two for Tuesday with one track being from the recent album and another being a popular song from the artist’s catalog.

So, here are four pairs of songs that I very well might have heard on Q95 during early March in 1986 when, if it was Tuesday, I probably wasn’t in class…

Tom Petty And The Heartbreakers with Stevie Nicks – Needles And Pins
from Pack Up The Plantation: Live!

Tom Petty And The Heartbreakers – American Girl
from Playback

Tom Petty And The Heartbreakers assisted Stevie Nicks on her first solo hit, Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around, and also appeared with the Fleetwood Mac songstress on her follow-up album The Wild Heart.

However, I prefer their partnership on this cover of The Searchers’ hit (co-written by Sonny Bono) which appeared on Petty’s album Pack Up The Plantation: Live!

As for American Girl, I can’t help but hear this Petty classic and not be transported to the hallways of Ridgemont High.

Blue Öyster Cult – Dancin’ In The Ruins
from Club Ninja

Blue Öyster Cult – Godzilla
from Workshop Of The Telescopes

I’ve written before of my affection for the mighty Blue Öyster Cult and Dancin’ In The Ruins was one of the few worthy tracks on the rather dire affair that was Club Ninja.

Club Ninja arrived when we finally had MTV available to us and Blue Öyster Cult was becoming a musical afterthought, but I vividly recall seeing the video for Dancin’ In The Ruins – seemingly inspired by Mad Max – in the wee hours of the night much to my delight.

Sure, Blue Öyster Cult was lumped in with early heavy metal bands like Steppenwolf, Black Sabbath, and Led Zeppelin, but – due to my frame of reference when I discovered music – heavy metal was a genre where its practitioners wore spandex and either sang of non-stop parties or dragons. I suppose Godzilla fulfills the latter requirement and Blue Öyster Cult had the vision to pay homage to the greatest dragon of them all.

Rush – Territories
from Power Windows

Rush – Tom Sawyer
from Moving Pictures

Rush had a small, but ardent following in our high school that consisted mostly of the jocks and the stoners in band – two clans who rarely intermingled but could find common ground in the beloved trio’s music.

Territories was one of several tracks from Power Windows that got played heavily on the rock stations that I listening to. I loved the lyrical reduction of warring nations to a squabble for “better people…better food…and better beer.”

(well played Professor)

There were few concerts for me before I reached college and the opportunity to see Rush was a day-of, last-second opportunity. A ticket, t-shirt, and the chance to see a sold-out arena full of never-would-be musicians airdrum to Tom Sawyer on the Power Windows tour cost me less twenty-five years ago than it did to fill up my car with gas last night.

Jackson Browne – For America
from Lives In The Balance

Jackson Browne – Running On Empty
from The Next Voice You Hear: The Best Of Jackson Browne

By the time I started listening to music in the late ’70s/early ’80s, Jackson Browne’s career was on the decline, though he did have one of his biggest hits during that period with Somebody’s Baby.

Lives In The Balance found the singer/songwriter fully embracing his activist instincts with an album whose lyrics, for the most part, had political overtones. The first single, the bracing For America, was a wake-up call and if the song and its parent album weren’t as well received as his earlier albums, it still sounded great on radio.

Running On Empty had become one of Browne’s signature songs nearly a decade before Lives In The Balance and the full-throttle track was already a rock radio staple when For America was becoming his final Top 40 hit.

Diamond Dave And Me

June 5, 2010

After doing eighteen months wearing a paper hat at McDonald’s – learning to respond and react like a lab rat to the beeps, buzzers, and lights that told me when to pull the burgers from the grill – I felt that the institution had little more to offer me.

As school ended in late May in 1986, I ended up with a new gig, working for a Fortune 500 company that employed the lion’s share of my hometown’s population. I was part of the maintenence crew.

I’d snagged the job because the department’s head was the father of one of my girlfriend’s friends. No more being cooped up in a sweltering kitchen, clad in polyester pants and an apron, marinating in a mixture of sweat and grease.

Yes, I would spend the summer outside, but it was a shock to the system to learn that I’d be reporting at 6:30 each morning, an hour that I no longer recognized during summer months.

The day would begin with the ten or so of us that made up the department meeting in our subterranean bunker as our boss, my high school classmate’s father, briefed us on mundane things like safety, reminding us that we were to wear “trousers” and not shorts.

Then, we’d head out. Most of the department had actual maintenence duties – tasks involving wrenches, screwdrivers, and such.

My partner and I were responsible for the grounds.

As our town was so small, I knew everyone in the department even though most of the guys were twice my age or more. My partner happened to be an older brother of two good friends, Smart and Dumb, twins that I had known since I was six.

Diamond Dave, as we called him, had just graduated from college, having spent eight years earning a degree in engineering.

Dave had adopted a slacker attitude a good half decade before such a thing became fashionable. He was a man ahead of his time.

We got along famously.

We’d load up our pickup with the tools of our temporary trade – weedeaters, lawn mowers, mulch – and Dave would squeal the tires as we pulled away from the garage, much to the chagrin of our co-workers and boss.

For the rest of the day, we were on our own, with each day of the week devoted to a different portion of the company’s vast properties in a different area of town.

Thursday was my favorite day as it was spent at the company’s small airport located out in the country amidst nothing but farmland for as far as the eye could see. It was on those isolated country roads en route that Dave taught me to drive a stickshift.

There were few employees at the airport – which consisted of a few buildings, a large hangar, and two runways – and the mowing was easy – long, straight strips of green that afforded lengthy periods of daydreaming.

It was hot and it was tiring work, but we were young and, for Dave and I, it was nothing more than a summer gig. I was headed to college in August; Dave would be hired for a job in his field with the same company soon after.

We’d speed down those narrow backroads, fields of corn and soybean all around, with hardly a care in the world. Drive the truck, mow some grass, maybe paint a fence or two, and make money.

Some of the money was stashed for school and some would end up being spent hanging out with friends – including Dave’s brothers – that evening or weekend.

It might have been the best job I’ve ever had.

The radio in our truck had dodgy reception, but we were able to pull in a couple of rock stations. Here are four songs that we were hearing that summer…

GTR – When The Heart Rules The Mind
from GTR

Four years earlier, I’d worn out my cassette of Asia’s self-titled debut. By 1986, the group had released two anemic follow-up albums and my tastes were moving in an entirely different direction.

Still, I was curious when former Asia (and Yes) guitarist Steve Howe joined with original Genesis guitarist Steve Hackett to form GTR. The first single, When The Heart Rules The Mind, hit radio and was enough to get me to purchase the full album (which I think I listened to a few times and filed away).

Icehouse – No Promises
from Measure For Measure

I knew Australia’s Icehouse from hearing their song Icehouse on 97X. Of course, while I would have much preferred listening to 97X as Dave and I went about our day, there was no way of pulling in my favorite station.

However, No Promises got a bit of airplay on one of the stations we could get and the dreamy, hypnotic track was one that I was always happy to hear. It reminded me of This Is Not America, the collaboration between David Bowie and Pat Metheney from a year earlier.

John Eddie – Jungle Boy
from John Eddie

Goofy and raucous, Jungle Boy was made for blaring from the radio on a hot, summer day. In some alternate universe, I imagine the inhabitants are sick of hearing Jungle Boy at sporting events and Gary Glitter’s Rock And Roll (part 2) is largely forgotten.

David Lee Roth – Yankee Rose
from Eat ‘Em And Smile

While I was toiling in the sun with Diamond Dave during the summer of ’86, the other Diamond Dave was in tribal gear, demanding a jelly doughnut from a convenience store clerk, in the opening of the video for Yankee Rose.

Though Roth had notched a couple solo hits from his Crazy From The Heat EP from the previous summer, Yankee Rose served as his first release since actually exiting Van Halen. Meanwhile, Van Halen had released their first record since replacing Roth several months earlier.

Both albums were successful, but things would never be the same.