An album I never want to hear again!

Listen to only one album for the rest of my life???? Nooooooooo!!!!! Please don’t make me do it again!

John Oates of Hall and Oates (I can tell it's him by the moustache) rides through the desert on a horse with no name, just to get out of the rain. How lame.

Yes, that’s right, again.  I already had to live through a time when I had no choice about the music I was subjected to, and the regular playlist was so limited it may as well have been just one album, repeated endlessly, over and over again every day. No, it wasn’t a dream, or school camp, I’m talking about my entire life up until the age of 18, growing up in a regional country town in Victoria, and listening to the local AM country radio station, 3BA.

In my memory, when I was entering my teenage years – in the early 80’s – and began to really care, the daily repertoire on 3BA consisted of about a dozen songs that had been played at least once daily for the last decade. What made it even worse was most of them were already, to my teenage mind, from the ancient past! The majority were the “prog-rock” (yawn!) “soft-rock”(groan!) “easy listening” (snore!) ballads of the 70’s. This was right into and through the 80’s – or so it seems in my memory (I admit, my memory could be biased, so if you loved 3BA passionately, please don’t write angry letters to me or sue me for defamation!)

I couldn’t have dated the songs at the time, but the fact that I’d heard them for the previous 10 years or so ingrained them into my consciousness in a way that didn’t require me to know the dates they were first released – I just knew they felt synonymous with the claustrophobic and conservative atmosphere of living in a small country town.

So, far worse than having only one album to listen to for the rest of your life, try having only a conservative country AM radio station to listen to, in the early 80s! In a complete twist of the question on Plinky I am going to share with you an entirely fictional album I would never want to listen to ever again.

Let’s say it is about 1982, the year I started secondary school (and, coincidentally, the first year I can really recall. The earlier years are a blur that culminates in grade 6 with me opening a can of coke at school and spraying coke all over my books. Ta da!) Anyway. If I was to reconstruct a typical day on my local radio station back then I reckon it would have included all of the following.

Hotel California – The Eagles. (1977) (this track should be at the start AND end of the album)

It was apparently compulsory that this ballad was played at least once every hour. The guitar solo alone takes about 45 minutes, or so it feels if you are stuck in a small town and it’s playing on the radio. By the time it finishes, you feel as if you’ve been sucked into the vortex of Hotel California too – or at least Hotel Small Country Town – and are doomed to float in its depressingly middle-of-the-road gravity forever. No wonder sales of Valium peaked in the US a year after this single was released!

Horse With No Name – America. (1972)

Even the singer got so bored with this song that he couldn’t be bothered to think up a name for the horse. It’s too boring to say any more about it.

Viewed from another angle, we can see that the rain in question comes mainly from the plane. That's insane!

Baker Street – Jerry Rafferty (1978)

Some poor sod finds life hard in the city, and, just like the National Party (and my parents), idealises the country. Well, he could have swapped places with me any day. I wanted to get to the city as fast as I could, mostly to avoid people like him. (*Googling for the year of this song’s release, I discovered that Jerry Rafferty died this morning! Sorry about the timing, Jerry.)

He’s Not Heavy, He’s My Brother (1970) – not the original by the Hollies, but a cover, probably the Neil Diamond version from 1970. This was a regular one for Sunday evenings (before the country music program – my dad’s favourite.)

We’ve Only Just Begun – The Carpenters (1970)

If I heard this song now I might think it was quite nice. I’ve got nothing against the Carpenters, who did some great songs, but hearing this every day in the early 80’s, it got lost in a banal and depressing mix of “easy listening” music that made it hard to distinguish the good from the mediocre, or the downright bad.

Kiss On My List – Hall and Oates (1981)

No easy listening list would be complete without Hall and Oates. Plus that gets in my quota of moustache references for this month!

If You Leave Me Now – Chicago (1978)

Ah Chicago! Not the town, not even the musical, but the band famous for soft rock ballads that incorporated electric guitar solos, strings and horns. Probably the only instrument not included was a bongo drum. On Wikipedia I read about the tragic death of a member of the band through a self-inflicted gun shot wound. According to one account, apparently his drunken last words were “Don’t worry guys, it isn’t even loaded. See?”

You’ve Got a Friend – James Taylor (1971)

Alright, I know it was written by Carole King so, like the Carpenters, maybe it’s not the song that was bad, maybe it’s the fact that the radio station was still playing it on daily rotation 11 years later, mixed in with so much other “easy listening” crap that it just blended right in to a depressingly nostalgic mix of music destined never to change.

The Logical Song – Supertramp (1979)

It may be logical, responsible, practical – but it’s definitely not a miracle, magical….or enjoyable.

So, that’s it for the definitive list. The first three songs are compulsory inclusions on this list, but the others could be interchangeable with other “easy listening/soft rock” music of the seventies: think of “Rosanna” by Toto, “Waiting For A Girl Like You” by Foreigner, or anything by Olivia Newton John or Billy Joel.

Finally, I considered including something by Air Supply, but reading through a list of their hits, their songs didn’t bring back memories of feeling claustrophobic and depressed as a teenager as the above songs do. Interesting – makes me wonder if they felt less alienating to me because they were an Aussie band!?  Who knows. But  I had to mention them anyway because of this bizarre sentence on Wikipedia:

In the end of 1981 Air Supply were not allowed to to travel by plane to most locations in U.S. due to excessive crying by both memebers. (sic)

Huh????

Pilots didn't like flying Air Supply, whose crying filled planes with excess tears. What a shame!

(Sing to the tune of “Horse With No Name”):

Well I’ve been through the desert on a horse with no name

It felt good to be out of the rain,

Cause Air Supply flew over in a QANTAS plane,

They were crying lots of tears because this song was so lame

So the rain that came fell mainly from their plane

La la la la la la la…..

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6 Comments

  1. I agree w/ about half. I’m sorry they bring back bad memories.

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    • It’s interesting to hear other people’s reactions to the same songs. For a long time I found it hard to believe that kind of “easy listening” music didn’t have the same depressing, claustrophobic effect on everyone – until I started to think about why that was their effect on me. Thanks for reading!

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  2. Brilliant. And thoroughly spot on. Hotel California still gives me the creeps so it’s a sprint for the dial any time I have the misfortune to be within 30 miles of a radio blasting it out. Mention of it inevitably triggers Dreadlock Holiday by 10CC, which was its zany doped out first cousin. On the plus side, I always thought it was Your kiss is on my LIPS. I prefer my version, even if both are enough to send me over the edge.

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    Reply
    • Hmm, LIPS does fit a lot more logically so you probably were right. Although I imagine I googled at the time to make sure I had it right, maybe I landed on the page of someone with industrial deafness (which, despite it’s name, can also be caused by attending too many rock concerts that are way over the legal decibel range), who has to creatively interpret what they hear. I suffer from that myself & it can be quite debilitating at times.

      I’m pleased to meet a fellow “hotel California” loather and applaude the lengths you go to, to cut it off any time you hear it. Of course, given the length of the intro, if you are reasonably fit, and on foot, you could probably get to the radio 30 miles away & switch it off before they reach the first chorus, thus performing a duty to all of mankind.

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      • *takes a bow* I usual stroll and still make in time for the second verse. I’m going to look at those Hall & Oates lyrics now. Or will I go mad and not bother? Either way, one of us is obliged to come up with a misheard lyric list. Or, a revised lyric list. You know – something that’s never been done before. Properly.

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      • You are right. I don’t know why no one has thought of that before. Perhaps with my industrial/rock concert deafness I could also throw in misheard phrases uttered by the person who’s talking to you.

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