Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Tuesday Tuneage
Bad Company - "Rock 'N' Roll Fantasy"

Go out on the main road, then down the hill, there was the resort. They had cabins for rent, and at times they actually were rented. For food there was chintzy frozen pizzas they’d heat up and crappy frozen burgers they would nuke. If you were old enough, you could order 3.2 beer or bring a bottle for set-ups. But we went there for the candy: All kinds of it on display behind the bar, also pop in the back room fridge.

Once we got old enough to see over the pool table we were also old enough to spare some candy money to play songs on the jukebox. A dime for one song, a quarter for three. Rock ‘n’ Roll Fantasy, Elvira, Centerfold, Rockin' Into The Night, You May Be Right, Even It Up. Play more pool, put more change in the jukebox. You come up with a quarter? Choose a song and then hand the other two to your buddies to pick. Play pool badly. Make jokes, try to be funny. Recycle a line you heard on a cop show about brawling outside with pool cues. It’s not clear whether the cues should be used like swords or clubs. The dimes and quarters keep us in own little world of songs and wisecracks. Far, far away from the day drinkers at the bar, huddled over their beers, hoping for relief from the sun outside.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Tuesday Tuneage
Blondie - "Hanging On The Telephone"

I used to hate cell phones. As I wrote back in 1998: "The way I see it, in ten years or so, most everyone except me will have a cell phone. (Nice word: "cell"). And then I won't even have to try to avoid talking to people like I do now. Everyone will be walking or driving around with their ears and mouths pressed to their cells, and I can cruise through life uninterrupted, just hearing bits and parts of conversations that aren't mine. I can't wait."

At the time, cell phones were something of a status symbol. And that status was of someone whose every potential conversation was so imporant, it couldn't be missed. What an annoyance those folks were. I remember being at a hockey game in 2000 and some guy a section over was kicked back with sunglasses on and chatting away on his cell phone. It was a little-attended WCHA playoff game at Target Center, so a lot of people heard me and knew who my question was directed at when I loudly asked: "HEY WHO ARE YOU TALKING TO?" Right around the same time, in the same building, while at a Metallica concert, my friend Jim and I were walking around a concourse and suddenly spotted a biker-looking dude, about fifty, draped in leather, talking on a cell phone. We shortly after stepped on an elevator and Jim and I looked at each other, chuckling, with the same reaction: "Did we just see that??" 

I caved and got a cell phone in 2002 for business purposes, if I was running late or if a client needed to reach me while I was out and about, I had the cell phone. Sure, it was often forgetten in my car's glove compartment or book bag; or I had the mute button on and missed any calls, but I felt it was important at this point for my business to have a cell phone. Five years later, I dropped my land line and went purely with the cell phone. It was much cheaper, and besides I rarely made or received phone calls at this point, what with almost all business communications being handled with email.

And what I hadn't foreseen back in the nineties was the potential in the cell - nay, the MOBILE phone (Orwell would be proud) in helping me with avoiding senseless interaction with people I don’t know, have no desire to meet, and don’t want to engage in pointless conversation. Look at what the mobile phone - a device chock-full of apps which also happens to have a phone function - allows me to do and NOT do:

It saves me in the bar; I can scroll through Twitter, tweet, check sports scores, text pals, look things up on Wikipedia ... as long as I'm staring at my screen I am less likely to be bothered by some barfly and have to talk about some crappy local sports team, libertarian politics, who in this joint has weed to sell, or get trapped in the “let me buy you a beer” cycle.

It saves me on the bus; I don’t have to talk about the weather or whatever else if I get stuck sitting next to somebody. If somebody else is talking loud on their phone, I just crank up the Black Sabbath on mine and stare out the window until the annoyance passes.

It saves me on the plane; I don’t have to talk to the person next to me about travel plans, where I am going to or coming from, what I do for a living, or my Minnesotan thoughts on Prince or the Maul of Amerika.

It saves me from holy rollers; as I related a year ago: "I break a commandment and lie. I tell him I have a phone call."

My mobile phone. My MOBILE phone. Even when you contain nothing to read, study, or get lost in; you do the essential job of keeping me to myself. You are my hero, my secret friend, my savior.

Tuesday, May 06, 2014

Tuesday Tuneage
Eddie Money - "Two Tickets To Paradise"

Springsteen/Seger hard rock polished up a touch, guaranteeing a landing on AM radio, yet still deep enough to fit in on FM. Unfortunately these days it's been reduced to a horrible TV commercial for Geico (and I've heard a worse audio-only variation of it while streaming a station on iHeartRadio), which makes it easy to overlook as one of the gems of the late seventies. It has one of the more interesting rhythms to appear on its era mainstream radio, certainly the opening guitars tell part of the story, while the choruses drive the point home.

On the surface it appears to be about a guy taking his gal on a last-minute trip to somewhere nice. But something in the desperation in Money's voice and the way the band plays always has me suspecting that this ain't no three-day weekend, it's a getaway, like the narrator has pulled off something that requires him leaving town, pronto. One of the joys of repeated listenings over the decades is that you can have it either way. AM/FM. Holiday/Escape.