A Story And A Song – Shakedown

Today’s story is a quickie and not much of a specific story. The song in question is Shakedown, a 1987 tune from the soundtrack to Beverly Hills Cop II. It was performed by Bob Seger and, oddly enough, was Seger’s first number one Billboard Hot 100 hit. He’d had plenty of past success on the chart and had other number one songs on other charts like the Mainstream Rock chart, but it took a song from a soundtrack and originally shopped to someone else for Seger to finally hit number one on the big chart.

That other person was Glen Frey, who’d had huge success on the first Beverly Hills Cop movie with The Heat Is On. He turned down Shakedown and his loss was Seger’s gain.

Bob Seger is an artist who, while I can certainly respect and appreciate him, I’ll admit I’m also not his biggest fan. I don’t mind his songs but I don’t have any of his music in my collection or playlists. There’s just a disconnect where I don’t really “get into” his stuff that much. It’s not that I’m annoyed by his songs or anything, I just have other stuff to listen to.

Shakedown is a pretty funny song. It’s good, but it’s also really damn dumb. Most of the song is just the chorus repeated, to the point that even Klaus Meine and Bruce Dickinson would probably think the chorus is repeated too much. But the song does fit the late 80’s aesthetic very well, it is absolutely a product of its time. The most striking thing about it is that, again, it was Seger’s first number one overall as compared to his prior body of work.

The “story” here is extremely simple. I was at the grocery store the other day when Shakedown came on over the store’s PA playlist. It’s the first time I’d heard the song in many, many years and it’s quite possible that it’s the first time I’ve heard Shakedown in the 21st Century. It took me more than a minute to even remember that Bob Seger had done the song. I was seriously breaking my head trying to remember who the hell did the song or what it was even from. Let’s face facts – Beverly Hills Cop II pretty well sucked, so it’s not like I even want to remember that. It was finally remembering it was a Seger song and getting sucked back into that wormhole of old lore that led to a flood of 1987 memories and this post.

It is kind of funny, the effects of age and all that. I am accused of having an encyclopedic knowledge of music, it’s true that I can often identify a song on its first few notes or name some random dude who played in a band for part of a tour in 1996. But as the years go on, the distance from the stuff of youth grows, and it doesn’t come back quick enough to win bar trivia or whatever. But no one else usually answers those questions either, so I still feel comfortable on my throne of arcane music lore.

And, simply put, that’s all there is for today. This one didn’t dive the depths of any obscure knowledge, but I do feel like it hit on something with it being Bob Seger’s first true number one hit. One would think Turn The Page got there, but I guess it only got to number four. And he scored on quite an array of other songs, but him getting over the mountain was this silly ass soundtrack song. Funny how it works sometimes.

A Story And A Song – 3 AM

Today’s song and story come from a recent holiday drive. The song is 3 AM, one of the hit singles from the debut Matchbox Twenty album Yourself Or Someone Like You. In an odd bit of trivia, the song did not chart on the Billboard Hot 100 only because it was not released as a physical single in the US. But the song did very well and the album was a super smash hit.

Matchbox Twenty were a pretty important band at the time. While I think their proper classification is alternative rock, the term “post-grunge” is used a lot when talking about them. This was the shape of rock after grunge flamed out in the middle part of the 1990’s.

The story goes back to Thanksgiving Day, which was was back like two weeks ago here in the US. We were driving back from a Thanksgiving dinner in a car with me, my girlfriend, her sister and her sister’s kid (my girlfriend’s niece).

We were coming from a fairly remote part of southwest Missouri back to the one city in the region that we live in. Finding something on the radio on forlorn highway roads is always a chore. These areas are known for having country, talk radio or religious programming on the dial. And of course, FM stations tune in and out very easily out in these rural areas.

At one point a rock station came on and the song in question was playing. After a bit, my girlfriend’s sister asked her daughter what she thought of the song. Her response?

“It’s fine. It sounds like country music.”

It was a pretty funny observation to the rest of us in the car, who have all been plenty exposed to country music. But after a second I realized how telling of a statement it was from a 13 year old kid who probably isn’t up on the history of country music.

The point is obviously about the state of modern country music – is this where it’s at? Someone not alive in Matchbox Twenty’s heyday thinks that their stuff is representative of a different genre of music?

Country music takes a lot of hits these days. The bro-country phenomenon of the past several years was awful. There has been a long-running battle between the entrenched machine of the Nashville industry and artists wanting more creative freedom. Country also takes a lot of flak for representing “older” values as well as a slant towards conservative politics and a lot of the worse things associated with those, both fairly and unfairly.

But when someone on first listen to an old alt-rock song thinks it sounds like your genre? I think it speaks volumes about the genre. Granted, I’m not very up on country these days and if I do pay attention, it’s to more independent artists who aren’t part of the Music Row network. I don’t really know what’s playing on mainstream country radio these days. But from the bits and pieces I’ve picked up, it’s not a far leap to suggest that today’s country is yesterday’s alt-rock. That’s not an absolute statement, of course, but it’s probably fair.

There are probably a lot of larger issues about country music that warrant discussion but that’s not really what this post is about. It was just a funny comment that made me think “Wow, is that what country has come to?” And there may not be as much to it as I’m speculating, but I’d say there’s something to it.

I could wrap up by posting Rob Thomas’ actual biggest hit, but I won’t do that to myself or anyone else. Instead let’s bow out with a bit of country.

A Story And A Song – Can I Play With Madness?

Today’s song is a good one – it’s one of the singles from Iron Maiden’s 1988 masterpiece Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son. It’s one of the more recognizable tunes from the record and a fantastic track. And the video is notable too – it features Monty Python standout Graham Chapman and is one of his final acting appearances before his 1989 death.

The story goes as such – I first saw Iron Maiden in 2000. I recounted that concert and other Maiden-related things roughly a month into this blog. Of course I got a shirt from the tour and it was a unique design only available on that tour. It was a pretty nice keepsave from what is a legendary concert in my show-attending lexicon.

Let’s jump in time a few years to 2004. I wind up dating this gal. Long story short – she was kind of awful and not worth the time. While I won’t get into the particulars of it, I will say that the inevitable happened – I lost my Iron Maiden shirt at her house.

It’s worth mentioning that it was a legitimate case of loss. It does seem like people lose articles of clothing when they’re involved with someone for awhile. Sometimes people “lose” possessions in these sort of split-ups when others intentionally misappropriate items to fund their shitty drug habits and that did happen in this break-up, but the shirt itself was truly just lost in her house and never to be found by me again. I also lost a Megadeth Rust In Peace shirt in the same break-up, just some really lame shit.

But the Megadeth shirt is fairly easily replaceable, it’s just the cover of Rust In Peace, it wasn’t original anyway and the shirt gets re-issued all the time. The Iron Maiden shirt, though? That was a tour original and was not going to be easy at all to replace.

Being that this was a super urgent issue to me, I waited until roughly late 2005 or early ’06 to bother with the matter of finding the same shirt again. It sort of struck me one day that if I were going to get another one, time would be of the essence. Iron Maiden tour shirts were already fetching princely sums in the mid-00’s, and now they can be flat out obscene.

Luck was (mostly) on my side – sure as shit, someone on eBay had the same Brave New World shirt up. It was $60. That was a seemingly ludicrous price to pay for a damn band shirt, but again, consider the mitigating factors. It was a unique Maiden tour-release shirt. How bad of a mistake would it have been to NOT buy it in 2006 for $60 compared to what I’d have to pay now for the same thing? I haven’t even seen a listing for one in a long time and I doubt the price would be $60 if there was one for sale. (Edit – a few do seem to be around for sale, in the $200 price range)

The shirt was in great shape and still is all these years later. The seller also threw in a bootleg CD of the concert he attended on the tour. It was a cool touch from back when eBay wasn’t so hard up about people selling bootlegs. I haven’t seen that around for a long time but I’m kind of sure I know where it is. And it was a very good sounding bootleg, almost like it came off the soundboard.

Anyway, I was able to recover my position and get the shirt. There was one small hitch – the backs weren’t exactly the same. There is a rear art piece of Eddie in a crowd on the back, that much was the same. But my original shirt had a listing of all the US tour dates. This replacement shirt only listed one city, Irvine. It kind of sucks but it’s a relatively minor issue I can live with. I even wondered if the shirt was a bootleg but it looks fine and they spelled “Iron Maiden” correctly so I can live with it. I’d guess it’s official, it looks identical to my first one besides the dates on the back.

That’s about all there is to this silly story. All stories have morals and there are a few here – don’t date lousy people and for damn sure don’t leave prized possessions behind at their homes when you split.

And if you do, don’t wait until the secondary market is some kind of cash-gobbling monster before replacing your stuff. I dodged a bullet on that one.

The shirt in question

A Story And A Song – Angels In The Outfield

This time around, the song has almost nothing to do with the story. My reason for going with this song will be evident soon enough.

Our song today is Your Love, the big hit from The Outfield. It’s a very nice power pop offering that I’m sure most people have heard. It’s one of those ear candy songs that settles in and doesn’t go away, but I can live with having it stuck in my head for awhile.

And our story involves baseball. It does also involve music. This also isn’t so much a “story” as it is a news recap of stuff that happened last week.

Back last Wednesday on June 8th, the Los Angeles Angels found themselves mired in a 13-game losing streak. It was a franchise record for losing consecutive games. After a pretty hot start to the year, the Angels were getting beaten left and right. They fired their manager and were flailing for anything to reverse their fortunes and get back to winning.

In baseball it’s fairly common for players to have walk-up music play as they go to bat. It’s a bit like a pro wrestler’s entrance except not as dramatic. In fact, Charlie Blackmon of the Colorado Rockies uses Your Love as his walk-up song and the Rockies fans get pretty into it when he goes to the plate.

The Angels back over a week ago decided to change up their walk-up music while playing against the Boston Red Sox. Every single Angels player came out to a tune from the same band.

The band? Noted slump-breakers Nickelback.

Yes, every Angels player that night came to the plate to one of Nickelback’s many hits. The usual suspects were there – Someday, Rockstar, How You Remind Me and Animals were all accounted for. Other players used songs I honestly haven’t heard. And Shohei Ohtani, one of baseball’s best players and the face of the game, used Photograph. (not my favorite song).

The idea apparently came from someone on the team’s coaching staff. According to this NBC Sports article via Yahoo! News, Angels quality assurance manager Tim Buss is a huge Nickelback fan and offered up the idea to get something going.

So did the ploy work? No. The Angels lost the game 1-0. The team had no extra-base hits and it appears they never got a runner past second base. A lot of things could be blamed for the Angels’ woes – like the lack of roster depth beyond two of the best players in the game, one of whom was injured that night. But it’s far more fun to blame Nickelback.

Nickelback’s Twitter account got in on the action, tweeting an inspirational sports message to the Angels. Wrong sport, but hey, whatever works.

The Angels would end their suffering the next night – they beat Boston and ended their losing streak at 14 games. Since that time they’ve gone 2-4, not a great run but winning a few is better than not winning at all. The team doesn’t appear poised for a playoff run but could sneak in if they could generate a hot streak.

I’m not horribly invested in what the Angels do on the field, I’m a Cardinals fan. It is fun to watch Angels games on occasion to see what two of the game’s best players in Shohei Ohtani and Mike Trout get up to, but the team as a whole can’t seem to get the job done.

As for Nickelback? I mean, I do think the band takes far more shit than they really deserve. It doesn’t lead me to seek out their music, I have no real need to hear any of it again after being bombarded with it in the early 00’s when they were ever-present. And I do think Photograph is an pretty cringe song, that one always did rankle me.

But that’s all neither here nor there. I’ll keep jamming to The Outfield’s hit song. But it does appear that Nickelback doesn’t bring any good luck to the sports scene.

A Story And A Song – Merci

This story has to do with buying music in a strange land, far away from home. For the song I’ll choose one from one of the two albums I bought that day – Pantera’s The Great Southern Trendkill was one of my pickups at a mall in France at some point in 1996.

War Nerve was one of the album’s signature songs. Like much of the record it is harsh, abrasive and even more heavy and savage than anything from their 1994 offering Far Beyond Driven, which was (and likely still is) the heaviest album in history to hit number one on the Billboard charts. …Trendkill would hit number four on the same charts and also slot in during Pantera’s time at the top of the metal heap in the mid-1990’s.

War Nerve is a song that sees frontman Phil Anselmo lashing out at how the media portrays him. While he had some room for argument there, he has also historically given the media more than enough material to work with. Whatever the circumstances, the song is a savage onslaught and is one of my favorite tracks from the album.

Now for the story. As I said, I was in France at some point in 1996. I honestly don’t remember which city we were even in – I am over 90% certain it was Marseilles but it possibly was Cannes. This is when I was in the US Navy and was in Europe for most of the late 90’s. Memories are a bit fuzzy after all these years but we were definitely in France and one of the cities on the Riviera, that much is certain.

A handful of us music die-hards went to the shopping mall to hunt for albums. Of course CDs were the format of the day and also a very easy to use format when living on a Navy ship. And the mall wasn’t much different from an American mall – maybe a bit less garish and more along the lines of a sterile department store, but it had a bunch of stores selling a bunch of shit so there we go.

I was in the mall and found a few CDs I wanted. I went to check out at the register. A quite lovely woman was behind the register and she rang up my purchase. She told me the total in French, a language I don’t speak. Thankfully the register was like one over here that displays the total so I could read how much money I was supposed to hand her. This was a few years before the Euro became the currency of the continent so I was using francs and wasn’t radically familiar with how many francs a dollar was worth and all of that.

I gave her the money and she handed me my change, then in the snottiest, rudest voice possible told me “merci.” And the look on her face matched the utter contempt in her voice. This woman did everything in her power to murder me with her eyes and her voice. I quickly gathered my CDs and got the hell out of there.

I obviously have no actual explanation for her attack upon my person. Most likely she was offended that I did not speak French. It was (and I guess still is, I don’t know) a thing that many French people were not into Americans who couldn’t communicate over there. It has always been my assumption about the episode. Maybe she was just having a bad day, but she seemed pleasant enough when I first got to the counter. Or maybe she found Pantera distasteful, I don’t know.

I find it a little odd, since it was probably common news that several hundred Americans were running around the city. I wasn’t even the only US Navy person there at the time I was in the store, and I know for sure that other non-French speaking US sailors went to the same store. Maybe she just got fed up with communication barriers and I was the one she took it out on, I don’t know.

And I don’t mean to type this as some customer service complaint from 26 years ago or anything. I’m just filling space in a post and recalling an amusing story from buying music overseas. It was more funny than anything and I hope the woman had a better day after I left her death gaze. I got my CDs in the end and all was well for me.

That’s essentially the story, nothing more to note. No one else that I talked to on the ship had any kind of run-in at that store, though many more seasoned vets did recount similar incidents with the French in their travels.

I guess there is one other bit of information – what is the other CD I bought? Like how The Great Southern Trendkill was a new release at the time, so was the Scorpions’ Pure Instinct. And anyone who has heard that album can easily figure out why I chose to feature Pantera.

A Story And A Song – April Fool

I had a real post I was going to do today but I finally grasped what day today was gonna be so I put off the other post and will have a bit of fun today instead. It’s also one where the story and the song bear no connection to one another, save for the song’s title.

Today’s song is a deep cut from the 1992 album Grave Dancer’s Union from Soul Asylum. It’s a great track from one of my favorite albums of the alt-rock era. It’s a heavy, trippy and fun song that maybe should have seen release as a single, but that’s hard to say since they hit well off their singles from the album. But it’s absolutely one of my favorites from the record.

For the story we’ll stick to the day’s theme. I have a good friend we’ll call Metal Shawn (we’ll call him that because that’s actually his name, he probably won’t mind). I am often found at least one weekend night over at his house, drinking beer and listening to metal. It’s been a tradition going for 20 years now.

Shawn is one of those people who are in love with April Fool’s Day. He can recount pranks going back for decades. He’d spend entire work days messing with people and, if the day fell on a weekend, it was game over for his friends and family.

Shawn got me a few times with April Fool’s pranks. April Fool’s was on a Friday or Saturday just as it is today. I headed over to his place for our usual round of beer and metal. When I got there, the door was locked and the place silent. On a normal “metal night,” the front door is open and it’s anything but silent.

I have a key to Shawn’s house in order to keep an eye on pets and things when he’s not around so I let myself in. I found a note on the counter with him saying that some of his family came to town for the weekend so he wouldn’t be around. I was a bit miffed since he could have easily used a phone to tell me this. As I turned around and contemplated what to do, his stereo kicked on and began blaring some form of extreme metal. Shawn was in the other room, the whole thing was a ruse.

Shawn got a lot of people that particular April Fool’s, I recall him being on quite a tear. But more recently he used the power of the Internet to pull one over on everyone.

Shawn is not a fan of Glenn Danzig. The polarizing singer is a frequent target of Shawn’s jabs when talking trash. I, like many others, are fans of Danzig so his roasts always lead to amusing back and forth.

One April Fool’s a year or two ago, Shawn posted on Facebook that he was now a fan of Danzig. He was taking suggestions for what to listen to. People took the bait left and right, suggesting their favorite songs and albums. Shawn did a great job specifically spelling out stuff he’d just heard and gave a chance too, and had everyone hook, line and sinker.

At one point through his day, Shawn even thought about texting me to warn me off of exposing his ruse until the day was over. But he didn’t and I, like many others, took the bait too. I commented something or another on his post and he was astounded that he got me too. A bit later he made his “gotcha!” post and had himself a good laugh at everyone’s expense.

I’ll admit that the Danzig fakepost got me and even ruffled my feathers a bit. The “not being home” gag was a funny, quick one that was no big deal. But I should have known better than to fall for his bullshit about posting nice about Danzig. I’m normally not one to fall for shit like that but still he bagged me as one of his prank victims.

So with that are a few pranks from my good friend and local jokester Metal Shawn. As for me, I’ve never been much into pranks on April Fool’s. I can appreciate a good practical joke but I have too much of a mastermind complex and get to planning way too elaborate of shit than what is suitable for the occasion. I was going to pull one on someone today but I decided against it. And of course when I started this post I was going to choose another song to post before remembering this one. I’m sure everyone knows what song I’m talking about.

A Story And A Song – In The Summertime

Today’s story revolves around a friend’s hi-jinks and one of the biggest selling singles ever. The song is the 1970 smash hit In The Summertime by Mungo Jerry. The UK track set the world on fire and sold over 30 million copies, an absolutely ridiculous number for a single. It hit the top of the charts in 26 different countries and is considered the world’s first “maxi-single,” meaning there are more songs besides just an A- and B-side. The 7-inch vinyl ran at 33 RPM as opposed to the standard 45 for singles in order to achieve that feat. Maxi-singles would later come out in 12-inch format and be a staple of record selling well through the 1980’s.

The story, as such, goes like this – it was the summer of 2020. We were bored shitless, as I’m sure much of the world was in the height of COVID. Several of us decided to use Zoom or other web communication tools to hang out, at least virtually. It was like being at a bar but over the Internet and full of technical glitches and not being able to tune someone out talking too much and stuff like that.

Anyway, one day the friend who hosted these meetings had been spinning In The Summertime for some reason so he decided to share the love with us. I honestly didn’t remember the song, it did come out about 7 years before my arrival on this rock. That is in stark contrast to my dear friend who was very much alive when the song was released.

This of course kicked off a quest to find out more about the song and Mungo Jerry, given that we were very bored and had nothing else to do in Lockdown Summer 2020 but drink on camera and deep dive for trivia on legacy rock acts. The band is still active and released an album as recently as 2019 according to their brief Wikipedia bio. Ray Dorset has been the group’s lone constant member and he has employed a wide range of talent as side players for the band. One interesting former member is Bob Daisley, he of Ozzy Osbourne, Rainbow and Uriah Heap fame (among many others). It was a trip to see his name in the extensive list of former Mungo Jerry members, though to date I haven’t taken the occasion to visit the album he recorded with the group. It’s called Long-Legged Woman for those curious.

We also wondered how hard it might be to snag a vinyl copy of the song and/or album. Vinyl was skyrocketing in price in 2020 as the influx of cash to citizens led to a run on collectibles that sent prices into the stratosphere. But, when something sold over 30 million copies in 1970, it turns out there are plenty of copies of the In The Summertime single and the debut Mungo Jerry album to go around. It might set a person back $5 for a copy online or maybe $2 if found in store.

There was one final bit of a joke over the song. My friend, being older and somewhat technology-challenged for some reason despite working in the technology industry, tried playing a bit of a joke on me. He would send a link to the song via text message in an attempt to “rickroll” me into playing it.

The only problem with that approach is that I have a modern phone and YouTube links preview their content in my text feed. I’m sure most anyone who has a phone made in the past decade experiences the same thing. It renders rickroll attempts obsolete. My well-meaning but oblivious friend struck out with his clever plan that might have worked in 2008.

That is about all for this silly story involving a 52 year old song. It’s honestly a pretty fun tune. I can see why it caught fire back in the day and I don’t mind giving it a spin as summer approaches and the carefree vibe the song invokes helps usher in the season. Just be sure that if you want to pull one over on someone that you know how technology works in 2020 and beyond.

A Story And A Song, Vol. 4

We had a good round of winter weather in my area (and across much of the U.S.) a few weeks ago, and are seeing more as winter slowly rolls away into spring. That got me thinking about an odd little story from another notable winter storm many years ago. And as a result, here is a new story and song.

The song is Sightless, from the apparently final Solitude Aeturnus album Alone. The song is a massive doom offering that stays up-tempo despite its harrowing lyrical fare. It’s a highlight from an album that is full of them.

And for our story, which will get into when I first heard the band and the album. It was January 2007 and a major ice storm hit the U.S. Midwest and other parts of the country. My area of southwest Missouri was especially hard-hit. A combination of bad proactive city planning and just the massive nature of the storm left many without power for weeks in sub-freezing temperatures.

The storm came in on Friday night. Back then nothing stopped us from doing what we do, which is to play metal and drink beer. We knew the storm was coming so we headed to a nearby friend’s house to see the action from his huge, covered back deck.

The ice started piling on tree limbs and snapping them. The limbs crashed into power lines and knocked out power through the city. It seriously sounded like a war outside with the amount of trees and limbs cracking and snapping. This was the poor planning part of the whole thing – there were untrimmed limbs all over power lines through town. It was a mass casualty event as far as having electricity goes.

We wandered around a bit as it’s a bit tough to play music without power. The party spots of downtown still had power on Friday night so we hung around there awhile. Later I wound up over at another friend’s house where, in a desperate quest to eat something, we heated soup cans on a barbecue grill on his front porch. We were already settling in to our post-apocalyptic situation quite nicely.

The next night several of us convened at our house to try and find something to do. Power was still out and was going to be for days. The same friend who had offered up his BBQ grill and soup the night before had brought over a CD. My roommate had a boombox with a tape deck going but we had no other way to play the CD so we went out to my car and played it.

The disc was, of course, the Solitude Aeturnus album. We jammed out to a fair bit of it in my nice, warm car. The music was a perfect accompaniment to the surrounding frozen wasteland. While the situation overall could be looked at as quite dire, that bit of time playing the album in that setting just made everything seem peaceful and serene. Even a few exploding power transformers in the distance did not spoil the mood.

We went back to the house after playing a fair bit of the album. We got wind of one bar downtown that still had power so we loaded up in someone’s car and had a few pints there. Our house and neighborhood would not have power for 8 days, some other places went over 2 weeks without. Power crews from across the country came to repair the power lines, some who had worked Hurricane Katrina said our ice storm was worse.

In the end we got power back and eventually thawed out. Solitude Aeturnus would stick with me over time – Alone is a favorite album and I’ve gone back to the rest of their catalog and found other gems. Though the band did not continue on after that time, singer Robert Lowe would have a 5-year turn as the vocalist for doom legends Candlemass that began just a few months after the ice storm. Doom metal was a fitting soundtrack for my life around that time so all of this lined up quite nicely.

That’s about all there is to this story. The ice storm was a massive event that I had never seen before and will hopefully never see again. But at least I had some really badass music to help get through it.

A Story And A Song, Vol. 3

Just a quick note – this series is an unconnected group of stories, just titled this way for summary purposes. Nothing missed before is necessary for this or the next, and so on. The category this is under on the right will lead one to other one-offs in this series.

This will be a bit of quickie. It’s a song and a quick story.

The song is this – the big hit from the Wallflowers in 1996. One Headlight would become the signature song for Jakob Dylan’s outfit amongst the alternative rock, post-grunge hits of the late ’90’s. It placed on multiple US Billboard rock charts and was a staple of mid- to late-90’s rock radio. The Wallflowers would have a few more noticeable songs, mostly from the same 1997 album Bringing Down The Horse, but One Headlight is the band’s bona fide hit.

Here’s the story – I think it’s 2018, or maybe 2019. It’s winter, so if it’s 2019 it’s just a bit before the pandemic came over to the United States. I can’t quite remember which winter this story fell into, but I recall the details clearly.

Several of us met up at a local brewery. Craft beer has been a social and economic boon the past decade, and our semi-sleepy Midwest town caught the late wave in the latter half of the 2010’s. One of the best ones in our town that now boasts 12 or 40 or however many has hosted music over their few years of existence. While now they have a mix of renowned local talent and hot regional acts come in to play on a prepared stage, such was not the case in 2018 or 2019 when this story happened.

I was out with several of my friends on that evening. As time wore on, our friends and significant others left us (for the evening), just leaving my friend and I behind at around 8 PM.

We were at one of those tall bench tables, standing and having a few more suds on a Saturday night. Around that time, some dude comes in and sets up shop with a mic, practice amp and an acoustic guitar. He does cover songs. A one-person project doing cover songs acoustically is not some huge deal, other than the guy is set up just a few feet away from us. We press on with our drinking and talking.

At some point this one-man band busts out his rendition of One Headlight. It was the first noteworthy song he did to point. My friend and I looked at each other with this combination spark of bewilderment and familiarity – “we know this song.” Then, “oh yeah, it’s that one song from way back when.”

We had to take a moment to assess this rendition being done basically in front of us. We started debating the merits of One Headlight and The Wallflowers. Are they worthy? Is it a good song or not? We defaulted to “nah,” but as the song went on we amended our two-person consensus to “you know, it isn’t terrible.”

We finished our brews and called it a night, leaving the one-man acoustic project whose name I can’t recall but I think was Tyler behind. Then I woke up the next day.

Come on, try a little, nothing is forever….

I had the damn song stuck in my head.

It’s ok. I’ve been jamming to music since I was like 5 and I was 43 at this point. I can hack this, I’ve had songs stuck in my head before.

But this wouldn’t go away.

Got to be something better than in the middle…

I honestly went for days with this song in my head. I get it, in a way – I really hadn’t heard it in many years and it was a sudden nostalgia trip. I have never had a song stuck in my head for as long as this ear worm crawled its way in. It was honestly days, even weeks that I had to play it. This wasn’t that momentary song you could get over after a bit – this fucker was straight stuck.

Me and Cinderella, we put it all together…

I had to reckon with this song for awhile. I’ve had songs stuck in my head that I don’t necessarily mind, but I don’t really want to be stuck with them. I’ve also had songs stuck in my head that I wish would die in a fire and the ashes be shot into the Sun.

But this was different. Hearing The Wallflowers again caused me to revisit the album and remember that, hey, I dug this stuff once upon a time. I do wind up in fond nostalgia from time to time, as I’m sure most music listeners do. This was one that had truly passed me by but I became re-acclimated through this dude with his guitar at the brewery on a Saturday night.

We can drive it home on one headlight…

That’s about all there is to this story. It isn’t world-changing or even that notable. Hell, it’s barely a story. But I do still vividly recall that night I got this damn song stuck in my head after nearly two decades of not hearing it. And now I’ll even cop to being a fan, even if on the edges, of The Wallflowers. Hell, they put out a record last year that I gave a minute to. It’s nice to get back in touch with something seemingly long lost, you only get so many of those moments before it’s all said and done.

A Story And A Song, Vol. 2

I realized after the first one of these that I called it “Story and a Song” but I do “song and a story” instead. Oh well.

This is two songs and a very small story. It’s almost not even really a story, more a chuckle-worthy anecdote from a concert I attended a few years back.

In 2018 I had the honor of seeing Judas Priest and Deep Purple. The show was at an amphitheater in Kansas City. I had missed a few opportunities to see Judas Priest in the past and this was finally my first time seeing them. I also had not seen Deep Purple before and I was very happy to have seen them in concert. Both bands put on great sets and I had a very enjoyable time.

For Judas Priest I’ll go with the lead single from their last album Firepower. This was an electric tune and the album saw a rejuvenated Priest clawing back at the top of the heavy metal heap. They had meandered a bit since their reunion, touring solidly as a legacy act while recording left-of-center material before finding their stride again with Redeemer Of Souls, then truly recapturing it on Firepower and Lightning Strike.

For Deep Purple I’ll also roll with the lead single from their last original studio effort. Throw My Bones comes from the album Whoosh!, released in 2020. The group tried to delay the release while in the grip of the pandemic but ultimately decided to get the music out. The play worked as the band hit their highest UK chart position in decades with the effort.

My story from the concert is this – I was up inbetween sets. Judas Priest played before Deep Purple on this night, I’m not sure if that’s how the whole tour went or not. I was off to fetch more beer and was among a lot of other people doing the same thing.

I hadn’t paid much mind to my surroundings. I guess I wasn’t processing a fact that was clearly abundant right before me. As I was heading off with my fresh brew in hand, someone very bluntly and loudly asked

“We’re at a fucking Judas Priest show, why is everyone wearing Iron Maiden shirts?”

I busted up laughing, with beer in hand and my fresh Book Of Souls tour shirt from the year prior on my body. The handful of people next to me, all wearing similar Maiden tour shirts from the past several years, also kind of looked around and laughed. A guy a bit off to the side with a Trooper Beer shirt cracked up, as did his friend in the Killers shirt.

It’s true – there wasn’t a lot of Priest or Deep Purple merch to be found on people that night. They do say to not wear a band’s shirt to their show. It’s kind of a stupid rule that many break when they buy their new shirt right then and there, something I’ve done myself before. But I was among many that night sporting the other British metal favorite while Priest was playing.

I mean, it isn’t a hard choice to make. I may like different kinds of music, but I could and have wore Iron Maiden shirts to country shows. I’ve worn Iron Maiden shirts to the grocery store, to baseball games, to get gas or to the brewery for a few pints. I have 15 of the damn things, I’m not going to feel out of sorts wearing one. I’d wear one to a funeral, if the person who passed on was worthy enough of having an Iron Maiden shirt at their final ceremony.

I don’t know, it wasn’t like something I thought about long and hard or anything. If I’m seeing Judas Priest or, well, anyone else, I would certainly not have an issue wearing an Iron Maiden shirt to that. Apparently I was far from the only one, as I’d say a good 20% of the crowd of around 5,000 had Maiden gear on.

There it is, that’s the “story” for today. The next few of these will be actual stories, and one of them will also have to do with an Iron Maiden shirt.