Thursday, December 15, 2011

Cars, Radios, and Boston

I’ve never had a CD player in my primary vehicle. For years, I listened to tapes that I’d made for myself, some of them close to 30 years old (including the tape that I made for our wedding reception, almost 25 years ago now). And then, a few months ago I finally discovered the joys of the “thingy” (technical term) that you can insert into your tape player that allows you to listen to the songs on your MP3 player. The very definition of awesome.

And then, just a couple of weeks ago, tragedy. The tape player died, leaving me with the sole option of listening to the radio on my drives to and from work. There are some good aspects of that; for instance, without the radio I never would have known about the accidents this morning on both of the freeways that I can take to work. But for the most part, it is strictly a hit-or-miss proposition. There are a couple of local stations that I can stomach, but I usually spend most of my drive going back and forth between two (sometimes three), annoyed either at a song I don’t much care for or the incessant droning of the advertisements.

[Believe it or not, this is leading to something].

One of the stations on my rotation is an oldies station, one that treats the musical universe as if it began in 1964 and ended in 1979. Now, don’t get me wrong – I like oldies as much as the next guy, and find myself actively enjoying a lot of what they play. For instance, in recent days they’ve been playing “More than a Feeling” by Boston quite a bit. Say what you will about the band – and what I would say is that they were a flash in the pan – but one can’t deny the greatness of that song (although the Single edit is a big cheat), or of the first album in general.

All of which reminded me that I had intended at some point to start talking about some of the albums that almost made my Top 50 list – the “honorable mentions,” if you will. And Boston’s self-titled debut album certainly makes that list. I don’t listen to it that much anymore and the sound is unquestionably dated, but I also have no problem saying that it’s one of the strongest debut albums of the past 40 or so years. Part of its appeal is that it evokes such strong memories in me – the release of the album coincided with the beginning of my junior year in high school, and the damn thing was played almost constantly on the radio through the end of my senior year. So each of the songs on it, depending on when they first hit the radio – coincide almost perfectly with some of the key milestones in my life at that time. I hear “Peace of Mind,” and it takes me right back to the early summer of 1977, listening to the song at maximum volume while prepping the grill area at McDonalds for the morning rush. I hear “Long Time,” and I think about singing the song with my buddies in the car, driving home from a basketball game. I hear “Smokin,” and I think of the jukebox at Crestview Lanes, on which I played that song every Friday after finishing our bowling league games for that week. I could go on, but you get the idea.

It is a really good album, and I’m happy to designate it as my first “honorable mention.”

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