365 Day Song Challenge: Day 2 – “If This Is It”

Day 2: A song that reminds you of summer

“If This Is It” — Huey Lewis And The News

I’m fond of telling people (as if they care) that “If This Is It” is the song that finally convinced me to buy the Sports album. Well, cassette tape, really, since all I had was a boom box at the time. (This was pre-Power Wagon.)

So, no, it wasn’t “Heart And Soul,” it wasn’t “I Want a New Drug,” it wasn’t even “The Heart of Rock & Roll.” All good songs, maybe great songs, but no, it was this somewhat schmaltzy ballad that convinced me to go to Strawberries and plunk down $6.98 for the privilege of subpar sound and no liner notes. (I’m a bit of a liner note junkie.)

The video is likely what did it, to be honest. I probably saw it at my friend Mark’s house; I’m not sure we had MTV* at my house at the time. For those that have forgotten (or blocked it out of their mind after years of therapy) storyline 1 was focused on a very uncool family packing up their gear and going to the beach. Storyline 2 centered on poor Huey Lewis, who had called his girl and she’d blown him off, telling her friend to “Tell him ‘I’m not home.'” For the record, in the video her mouth moves, but for some reason her voice sounds remarkably like Huey’s. Strange. But I digress…

hueylewisifthisisitCut to the monumentally packed beach. The family is there. Conincidentally the girl is there with her friend. And for some unknown reason, Huey Lewis and The News are there. Fully clothed, no less. Although for much of the video you can’t tell if The News are clothed or not, they’re buried up to their chins in sand. (That must have been a fun shoot.) Long story short, Huey sees his girl and confronts her, she storms off. The family roams around all day, never finding a place to sit down. Cut to late afternoon: The family finally plunks down on the near-empty beach. Meanwhile, a dejected Huey sitting  alone. (What happened to the News? Did the tide come in and drown them?) But, surprise! He’s approached by the friend from paragraph one, who it should be noted, is not hard to look at. In the words of Mark’s father way back in 1984:  “That’s a hell of a consolation prize.”

So there you have it. This song oozes summer to me. The video all but screams “Hey moron! It’s summertime! You’re hot!” It was released as a single in July of ’84 (and was a big hit that summer, peaking at #6). And finally, the song’s got that laid-back “let’s just move slow and stay cool” vibe. Y’know. Summer.

Oh sure, I could have gone with the more obvious “Summer In The City” (Lovin’ Spoonful), “Summer of ’69” (Bryan Adams) or even “California Girls” (Beach Boys or David Lee Roth, depending on your age or what you want to admit to), but that would have been too easy. Heck, I actually thought of over a dozen songs I could have used, but the truth is, when I read the Day 2 song description, this is the one that came to mind first.

My parting thought: if I was in the band, I would have demanded a bigger cut of the royalties if you’d buried me in the sand like that for hours. Although I think they did alright for themselves either way.

What’s your summer song?

* Yes, children, MTV once stood for “Music Television” and actually played videos!

365 Day Song Challenge: Day 1 – “And She Was”

Day 1: A song that reminds you of your first car

“And She Was” — Talking Heads



If it was good enough for David Byrne to start a hit song with, it’s good enough to start my 365 Day Challenge, too. As anyone who’s been on the receiving end of a “Hey!” will tell you, it’s a good way to get your attention.

So, a song that reminds me of my first car…

Ah, that first car. I didn’t own it, but I drove it for so long it seemed like it. What memories! It was a light blue 1982 Chevy Mailbu Classic…

…Station wagon. <insert sound of record needle scratching here>

Now, I realize that I am not the only teen to have suffered the fate of the family wagon. But when you read “Malibu” you might conjure images of the Malibus of the 70’s, when they were powerful and cool.

This car was neither of those. In fact, my friends and I called it the Power Wagon. Because it had none.  You could put your foot to the floor and it would literally take two or three seconds before anything happened. So, despite the name, it was not a classic. At least it didn’t have have the fake wood side panels. Because, y’know, that would have made my friends who drove Mustang GTs really, really jealous. As it was, they were only really jealous.

Or something…

But back to the amenities… Finest vinyl seats money could buy. Useless “air foil” over the back window. And its best “feature”: the windows in the back seat didn’t go down.

That’s right. A car with no air conditioning and the freakin’ back windows don’t go down.

By design!

In my younger days when it was our primary family vehicle, it was not uncommon for those of us in the back seat to lose about 60% of our body weight from sweating. Moaning and dehydration fueled hallucinations were common. Whoever designed that car should be shot. Or better, made to ride in the back seat on a 95 degree day.

At any rate during my senior year of high school, my parents upgraded to a newer, nicer car  and the Power Wagon sort of fell into my hands. And as we all know, when you’re in high school/college and free wheels come your way, you can’t afford to be choosy. You can barely afford gas.

Despite its myriad faults, it did have one redeeming quality: a tape player. (Cassette tapes. Remember those? Anyone under 25 who’s reading this, ask your parents what those were.) Even then, I had a pretty good music collection, so, I made mix tapes. A lot of them.

Fast-forward to junior year of college. I got a co-op job with a thirty minute commute one way. I had one particular feel-good kind of tape and I listened to it over and over, to the point where the tape actually broke. “And She Was” was the first song on side A. David Byrne’s bizarre tale of the girl flying over everything may have been lyrically bizarre, but it was damn catchy.

The world was moving and she was right there with it. And so was I. Dozens of times. So the Power Wagon and “And She Was” kinda go together for me now and likely, forevermore.

And she was.