The new house was the former property of the neighborhood pot dealer. I helped tear out the shag rug that covered the place, including the kitchen and bathrooms. The activity left a sickly, cloying smell to my clothes. The next day I mopped out the concrete basement, in which two large dogs had been penned and ignored. That night I got sick.
It took me two days to get back on my feet. Then I was assigned the task of carving the mouldy grout from between the tiny porcelain tiles in the bathroom. As with the previous jobs, I was granted the kitchen radio, which I tuned to the AM station of the day.
This struck me as a very large concession on my parents' part. Two years earlier I had shocked them when I came home from the library with an album by the Village People. What really cooked their collective kneidl wasn't the band's overt gayness — cloistered as we were, that possibility never crossed our minds. No, they were freaked out by the final song, “Ups & Downs.” Judging from the lyrics alone, the singer may have been lamenting his increasing reliance on pharmaceuticals, but there was no denying the infectious and ultimately subversive dance beat.
Anguished discussions had ensued that night. But now here I was, shoving an old screwdriver blade into blackened grout, while the kitchen radio broadcast the hits of the day through a house that was empty of all but my toiling family. It didn't just feel like progress: it felt like an accommodating portal into the city that sprawled outside our door — a city I was only too happy to avoid via grout-removal and fecal mopping.
This (scroll down) is the CHUM 100 of 1979. There isn't a song on it that I don't still love (although Styx's “Babe” sometimes strains). After Ms. Patty asserted that quality of music took a nosedive in 1974, while Yahmdallah pinned the Year Of International Musical Decline to 1988, I thought I'd just post the CHUM 100 for '79 and let the music speak for itself. But of course it doesn't, because it can't.
|CHUM 100, 1976 - not quite as good as '79, natch.|
During the past year I had developed two circles of friends: my school mates, and my church mates. The group from school was very small. One guy convinced the rest of us that Rush's Permanent Waves was The Album Of The Year. Another guy (not me) bought it. After school we'd retreat to his carpeted basement rec room, turn up the tinny hi-fi stereo and listen to the whole thing from side to side and back again. When it absolutely could not be avoided, a bit of air-banding took place. But mostly our sessions boiled down to the sort of critical parsing that 15-year-old boys excel at: “Wait, did you hear that? That was cool!”
The second event involved my church friends, whose taste in music was markedly different (if still very secular). One Saturday we pedaled our ten-speeds to the record store in the local mall, where my buddy purchased a single 45: “Lonesome Loser” by Little River Band. He paid three dollars, then carefully slid the package between his T-shirt and jeans. Then we mounted our bicycles again, and returned to his place, where we listened to the song a half-dozen times in a row. After the sixth spin, he turned off the stereo and sadly announced, “Well, I think I got my money's worth.”
I thought he'd been gypped. And I thought Disco Sucked, even though I'd loved it the previous summer. I also thought “My Sharona” was punk, prompting me to fly into a pogo-hop whenever it got played at parties. I thought Kenny Rogers was cool. I thought Larry Norman and Resurrection Band kicked ass. But more than anything else I thought Rush was the only rock 'n' roll band alive, even if (or, most likely, not a little because) The Starman threw me into a mild Satanic Panic.
There was simply no arguing with music like that, while the argument with everyone else had just begun — in the summer of 1980.
Link Love: in the But You Already Knew That category, this item would be the perfect gift for the Rush fan in your family. Too bad he already owns it, and has committed its contents to memory. There's a lot to love in these DVDs, which play like a reciprocal valentine between band and fans. But my favorite moment occurs when Pete from Cleveland gives the camera a satisfied nod of acknowledgment as the band begins playing “Freewill.” That's a 100% undiluted Rush Fan Moment.
Hold on a sec: is that a girl?!
She must've got photoshopped in. Here:
That's more like it!