I know, can you believe it, this feature is back! If you missed it (and you’re the only one) think of how much I miss the DJ’s of my youth playing this music. You probably already know this because long ago, back in the early days of this year, you read (or skipped) this post. Amongst the DJ’s I mentioned was Larry the Duck, and believe me, I truly remember his voice. Then a funny thing happened, XM, which I used to listen to on my computer at work, merged with Sirius, the only other satellite radio company, in a Great Big Monopoly. At first I was dejected. My quirky-fun station, Fred, had disappeared. Fred with its funny promos like the take-off of the Smiths’ “Is it Really So Strange?” that went, “Fred left the North. He traveled south. He found a tiny house and he can’t help the way he feels.” That made me laugh every single time. Because I’m a sap.
Anyway, Fred went away and its place was Sirius’ mundanely named “First Wave.” Bleah. I gave it a chance for a few days because I pay for this thing and if I hate it, I’m getting rid of it. The first thing I noticed was that it had DJ’s and after listening to rarely interrupted Fred, it was disconcerting. So at the same time, to hedge my bets, I gave Pandora a try and I must say, my four stations, alternately “Wannabe Fred,” “New Alternative,” “Hard Alternative,” and “Power Pop in the vein of Neil Finn and Matthew Sweet” (catchy, right?), have not really been floating my boat. It’s too clear the music wasn’t chosen by a human. A band will play three songs after it was previously played. Too much of one artist, only the most popular songs by another. I really have tried to tweak them with “OK, how about let’s add in this band?” and “never play this song again” and sorry, it just ain’t happening. A computer can’t seem to get 80′s new wave the way a real human in his/her mid-30′s who got dressed to impress in high school to it would. The other stations were OK but since I wasn’t trying to get in the breadth of a certain decade and actual radio stations, it wasn’t as hard.
Then, on a forum (I’m all about forums) where I am named for a new wave song, I heard that Larry the Duck is on First Wave. Really? Larry the Duck is alive and well and DJ’ing the music I love? Swoon! Because so far all I’ve heard is the screechy and irritating Madison and Richard Blade who I suppose is OK if you are nostalgic for KROQ (my grandparents lived in LA; I do remember KROQ in the 80′s) but I’m lukewarm on. Finally, after weeks of listening attentively for My Youth relived on the radio, I went to check the Sirius website and there he was, 6-9 am. Sadly, since I live in New York City, there is no such thing as “drive time.” I turn the thing on when I reach work at ten. And I watch Pat Kiernan while I get dressed; I can’t give that up. So that was depressing. But he’s also on Saturday afternoons and evenings where I am listening to him push satellite radio for Christmas right now as I type this. (Yes, it’s written in advance). I think the first time he said “Duck with you…” little tears pricked at the back of my eyes. Maybe what’s forgotten in the “who needs radio, I’ll just put my 90 GB iPod on shuffle” are the people who framed the music for you and made you smile. A co-worker of mine was able to tour the Sirius studios (it was professionally, *cough*) and got to meet several DJ’s. People, this is going to be my new year’s resolution. I am going to Sirius (or, uh, SiriusXM) and hug Larry the Duck. Wish me luck!
OK, onto the song. This is the first time I’m repeating a band. Who could it be? One of the bands I mention all the time like Depeche Mode or The Cure or Joy Division? Why no! I picked this song specially, not because it’s my favorite song ever but because I totally forgot about its existence until this week. Most of the songs I have featured on here are ones I’ve been listening to for years and years and of which I have never lost track. But not this one. And yet, when it came on (forgive me, I couldn’t tell you whether it was Pandora or First Wave or any of the other things I tried), the bursting-with-energy opening bars cut through years and years and suddenly the first line came tumbling out of my mouth unbidden, “I couldn’t sleep a wink last night… I, I love to hold on!”
I downloaded it from Amazon about ten seconds later, where I discovered I actually owned this album on LP. Good times! I have nothing really to say about this song except what I said about their other song that appeared on iSotW which is, my, they were a fine band before they became “one hit wonders” through the Breakfast Club. That was too bad because, as this song demonstrates, they were way better when they stuck to writing their own songs. Listen to how Jim Kerr sings it like he means it here and how driving and pounding the music is versus a lame-ass song like “Don’t You (Forget About Me).”
It’s funny, because in early 1983, my two favorite songs outside of Duran Duran were by bands I discovered from those songs: Depeche Mode’s “Love In Itself” and Simple Minds’ “Promised You A Miracle.” Either could have ended up my favorite group of all time, especially because I liked the next song I heard by Simple Minds, “New Gold Dream” even better. But, well, you know how that went.
The other thing about hearing a song that you haven’t heard in decades is that it is still uniquely tied to time and place. This one takes me way back, back to one of my two HS BFF’s homes, so much so that I did a tour of her neighborhood on Google street look and while wondering whatever happened to her. Damn people with common names with whom you lost touch in 1989! She’s not even on Facebook. Maybe I just imagined the 80′s. Or, maybe, like Larry the Duck, she’s alive and well and waiting to be rediscovered….
So, give satellite radio for the holidays. Or Simple Minds’ Sparkle in the Rain (I think it’s still available as an import). Or send your high school BFF on Facebook an “80′s Gift” and think of me.
Simple Minds – Speed Your Love To Me
Streaming audio available on the iPod Song of the Week page.