Day 137: A song beginning with “F”.
“Flamethrower” – The J Geils Band
When I was a freshman in college, the dorm I lived in had three floors, and each floor was split up into two halves, with the bathroom and showers in between. Each half contained 6 rooms—4 doubles and 2 singles.
The 4 doubles were set up in a “cube” and those of us in those rooms became friends, particularly the two guys directly across the hall. We got along very well—except when we didn’t. We spent a lot of time together, and, no matter how well you get along, when you see people a lot, tensions mount.
And when tensions boiled over, it got loud. Occasionally other stupid things happened, too, but mostly it was loudness.
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Keep in mind, this was the late 80s, the time of ridiculously large stereo speakers. So, of course we had to use them once in a while, right? How else could you justify the expense?
Here was the typical scenario:
- Someone is joking around and takes something just that little bit too far.
- In response, someone says something stupid. Possibly insulting. Certainly incendiary.
- Words are exchanged.
- Someone goes off in a huff.
- Doors slam.
- Someone says “I’m going to piss them off.”
- Doors open.
- Music blares.
One of our counterparts across the hall favored “Flamethrower” as the weapon of choice. (Another was “Runaway” by Bon Jovi.) Both have brash, staccato openings, the former with percussion, the latter with keyboards. No matter the choice, it was played at ear-splitting volume.
As with all wars, escalation was inevitable. These opening salvos were always responded to with something equally loud from our side. Pete was partial to “Sleeping Bag” by ZZ Top, so 99 times out of 100, that was the choice. I never thought it was a particularly effective retaliation, but then, I never really was able to nail down something better, so I let him go with it. (Perhaps something by Kix, like “Atomic Bombs” or “The Kid” would have done it, but I’m not sure I had their debut album on CD at the time.)
Much like “Global Thermonuclear War” in WarGames, this was a futile effort. There could be no winner. And, I suspect in another 20 years when we all meet each other again at the hearing aid store, we’ll realize that in the end we were all losers. (People at the time told us were losers, too, but I suspect they meant something different.)
But it always seemed like a good idea at the time.
Actually, no it didn’t. It was stupid even then…
And now for something completely different…
When discussing what song to choose for this post (a song starting with “F”, in case you’ve forgotten), Laura mentioned “Fast Car” by Tracy Chapman. And while the story behind that choice wouldn’t carry a whole post, it is one of my favorites.
When “Fast Car” was released, my niece Jenn was no more than 6. One day we were watching MTV, and the video came on.
Jenn watched it intently for about a minute. And then she turned to my sister and said:
“Mom, why is that man so sad?”