I think you’re going to like this group of songs, but I bet you enjoy my essay about this week’s video more. It’s not often I dive into my romantic past here, so prepare to laugh at/mock me.
“Long Way” – Eddie Vedder
WHOA! When I heard Eddie had a solo album coming out I was not enthused. His first solo album was all folkish songs played on ukulele. Not necessarily my bag. He also did the soundtrack for Into the Wild, which consisted of lots of song fragments written for specific moments in the movie, although his cover of Indio’s “Hard Sun” was fantastic. So I was blown away when I gave this, the lead single off the new album, a listen. There’s some George Harrison-like guitar up front before it blossoms into a totally gorgeous, very Tom Petty-feeling track.
“Let’s Make Out” – Lydia Loveless
Apparently this is a track that’s been around for a few years, and has been a live favorite at Loveless’ shows. This is the first time she’s shared a studio recording. It’s right in the pocket of what I love about her music. And a pretty solid sentiment, too!
“Spirit Power and Soul” – Johnny Marr
Look at J. Marr, never afraid to take his music in a different direction! I wouldn’t say this is a great song. But it’s got a nice feel and makes me want to bounce around while I listen to it.
“Summer’s End” – Phoebe Bridgers and Maria Taylor covering John Prine
So many people I follow were deeply affected by the death of John Prine a little over a year ago. Sadly, I wasn’t very familiar with his music. While I’ve appreciated his songs that inevitably popped up in shows, shorts, etc since his passing, I have never dived into his catalog. Phoebe Bridgers doing her standard fantastic version of someone else’s song is just another toe in the Prine waters for me.
“The Rising” – Bruce Springsteen
Like the yard signs say, never forget 9/11. (Don’t get me started…)
“Black Velvet” – Allanah Myles
For this different approach to the Friday vid comments, I’m diving into two areas I don’t usually write about.
First, I don’t usually write about songs that Tom Breihan covers in The Number Ones.
Second, I’m not big on sharing tales of romantic regret.
This song has been hella stuck in my head for a couple days now and forced me to go against both of those writing prohibitions.
Since Tom got to mid/late 1989 his pieces have really been working on my music memory brain cells. I’ve been flooded by memories of going off to for my first year at KU. Baring other traumatic events, I think people change the most in the shortest amount of time during their first year of college. Well, after birth to one year, obviously. You leave home, have to figure out how to do things on your own, have to motivate yourself to get to class, most of us are living with someone who is not a blood relative for the first time, and so on. You are exposed to the people in your dorm or fraternity/sorority house and across campus who open up your mind in all kinds of amazing ways.1
So it has been fun reading Tom’s posts and reliving so many memories from that period of my life.
1989/90 was also probably the last time I was locked into the music that was on the Top 40. I was mostly listening to tons of stuff that was decidedly not Top 40 – gangsta rap, I was deep into New Jack Swing, and I was even listening to quite a bit of metal in the fall of ’89 – but I still had an idea what was going on on the pop charts. It was in the fall of 1989 that my roommate and I famously shunned some long haired dudes at the record store to buy whatever Top 40 crap we were into at the moment. Those long haired dudes turned out to be Soundgarden. Oh well…
Wednesday Tom wrote about Alannah Myles’ “Black Velvet,” the fourth number one song of 1990. I liked that song as it was climbing the charts. It didn’t hurt that I had the first girlfriend of my college years during that same stretch. And, so, as that song has been replaying in my head over the past few days, I’ve been thinking of her.
I met B thanks to the girl my roommate was dating, W. Both young ladies went to school in Kansas City, so it was kind of a hassle to get together. B was supposed to come over one Saturday in mid-January but something came up and W rounded up a last-second replacement since we had tickets for four to see a movie. The stand-in date didn’t seem super interested in me. I think that was because she knew a high school friend of mine that she didn’t like very much and assumed I was just like him.2 By the end of the night, though, she had warmed to me a little. As we said goodnight, she said she thought B and I would get along really well.
Then I had a week to stew before finally meeting B.
The week came and went, the girls showed up, and B and I hit it off right away. She was super cute, very smart, and funny as hell. I have no memory of what we did that night but I know it was a great date, and we started calling and sending each other letters immediately after.3 We had a few more dates and then I went to her sorority’s semiformal. I skipped my first-ever KU-K-State basketball game to attend the dance so you know I was smitten. I’m almost positive we danced to “Black Velvet” and B told me how she loved the song. It took me less than a second to decide I loved the song, too. Because that’s what you do when you’re 18 and you’re dancing with a girl who seems into you.
It’s been 31 years, so I can’t say I have great memories of why we stopped seeing each other. It could have simply been the distance. She had a car but I did not, and she may have gotten sick of driving an hour-plus from her parents’ house on the far east side of Kansas City to visit me.
I do have a clear memory, though, of her calling me her boyfriend one of the final times we saw each other. I don’t remember the exact words I used to respond, but I know I made some sarcastic comment about her using that term. Which was dumb. Sooooo dumb. Like one of the 10 dumbest things I did in college. In my head I was freaking out thinking, “This awesome chick just said I’m her boyfriend!” and in my struggle to get some words out in response I said something meant to be funny but likely came across as dismissive or not feeling the same.
What an idiot!
Anyway, by late March there were no more letters, phone calls, or dates.
As I said, I’m not big on romantic regret. While it would be nice to go back in time and replay these moments to say the right thing or date the right girl or avoid a certain relationship, all those moments of embarrassment, disappointment, and other pain in search of love helped me to get to the point where I was prepared to **not** make the same errors when I met S.
Plus, if I could go back to the winter of 1990 and say the right things to B, while I doubt we would be married with three kids today, perhaps we would have lasted six months together. Or a year. Or however long. Which would have changed my next relationship, and then the next one, and so on and then I’m never in a position to meet S in the spring of 2000. Plus this blog wouldn’t exist!
I hadn’t thought of B in years until I listened to “Black Velvet” Wednesday. I hope she’s doing well and the guys she dated after me weren’t so insecure and immature that they responded like jerks when she admitted her feelings to them.
1. To be fair it closes some people’s minds, too.
2. Loved that guy, but we had a few clear differences in personality and behavior.
3. Remember when we had to write letters and wait for a response? What a crazy time to be alive!