The Instant Fan Chronicles, Part 3

Songs that made me swoon

The Instant Fan Chronicles, Part 3

This has been a day of foiled plans where Jefitoblog posts are concerned, so I'm calling a fourth-down punt and falling back on another round of songs that made me lean in and want to hear more. As always, this does not imply an overall endorsement of the artist in question; in fact, in many cases, I obtained access to the album the song came from and immediately tuned out after hearing the rest of whatever happened to be on offer. Still, if someone can scratch an itch one time, who's to say they won't do it again someday?

"I Don't Know," Beth Nielsen Chapman
By the time Beth Nielsen Chapman released her You Hold the Key album in 1993, I had temporarily drifted away from reviewing music but hadn't yet fallen off most labels' mailing lists, which is how I ended up getting a copy of the record in the mail. My interest was piqued when I noticed a Paul Carrack duet on the track listing, but it's this song, the leadoff track, that really made me want to hear more. It didn't take long to realize that Beth Nielsen Chapman is very, very fond of very, very slow ballads, which is sort of a shame; she does "moderately uptempo AC" really well.

"The One I Love," Big Country
This is a weird entry point for a band that most people regard as a one-hit wonder, and I don't really have any explanation for it. All I know for sure is that I bought the cassingle and really dug it — although I'm pretty sure I didn't dig it quite enough to go out and get the album it came from. That'd have to wait until their next release, Why the Long Face, in 1995.

"I Went Electric," Bill Lloyd
I became a Foster & Lloyd fan the instant I heard "Crazy Over You," which was more than enough to convince me to gamble on Bill Lloyd's Set to Pop solo LP when I stumbled across it in 1994. If you're a regular Record Player listener, you know I remain a Lloyd fan to this day, and that journey started with Pop's killer leadoff track.

"Power Windows," Billy Falcon
In more recent years, Billy Falcon has become an outspoken MAGA/QAnon weirdo, which makes me very sad — not just because I was once an ardent fan of his music, but also because I knew him on a personal level once upon a time, and I never would have suspected that within him beat the heart of someone who'd one day write and record Trump-supporting propaganda. Well, decades before that, Falcon was the brief beneficiary of Jon Bon Jovi's Mercury-distributed vanity imprint Jambco, through which he released a really well-made singer-songwriter record about raising a child while grieving the death of her mother. Pretty Blue World's hit-like thing was "Power Windows," a song that's meant to extol the virtues of the simple things in life and is ultimately rather dunderheaded in a fairly endearing way. There are better songs on the album, but this is the one that hooked me enough to keep listening.

"Get Me Out of Here," Billy Pilgrim
Billy Pilgrim are a folk-rock duo with Southern roots and a heavy reliance on tight harmonies, which goes a long way toward explaining why they were somewhat derisively referred to as "Indigo Boys" during their brief rise to extremely limited fame in the mid-'90s. A couple of independently released albums earned them a deal with Atlantic, which lasted for a few years and two albums; after putting out the stellar In the Time Machine in 2000, they went dormant for decades while Kristian Bush went platinum with Sugarland and Andrew Hyra pursued a variety of other musical avenues. They're back together now, and I'm very happy about that. This song, the leadoff track from 1994's Billy Pilgrim LP, is what started it all for me.

"Don't Say You Love Me," Billy Squier
By the time Billy Squier released "Don't Say You Love Me" in 1989, his career was already in the grave, allegedly due to the ill-advised video he filmed for 1984's "Rock Me Tonite." But I was ten in 1984 and had no idea about any of that, so when I heard "Don't Say," I didn't hear the desperate flailing of a has-been; instead, I only heard the truth, which is that this an eminently well-written rock song with tons of hooks to match its swagger. The album it came from has its ups and downs; I tried listening to the whole thing recently, and tuned out fairly quickly. Whatever. This song still does everything it sets out to do.

"Idaho (live)," BoDeans
Why did I purchase BoDeans' preposterously titled Joe Dirt Car? I do not recall. It was a used copy, though, so I can only assume that a minute and 30 seconds of the leadoff track, a live version of "Idaho," was enough to hook me. And what a hook it is — although a deeply uncharitable person could argue that this song is a deeply standard-issue slice of AAA singer-songwriter fare about the State of Things in America, it's written and performed so persuasively that I feel like the song is a fairly forceful rebuttal to any cynical arguments against it. I was a pretty intense BoDeans fan for a little while there. The brand has had its moments since co-founder Sam Llanas split and Kurt Neumann moved forward with the mantle, but I think Joe Dirt Car is a pretty magical snapshot of a special moment in time.

"Wait for You," Bonham
When you're 15 and you send a long note professing your affection for a diaphanous blonde thing who tells you her family won't let her date yet but she'll keep you in mind when the time eventually comes, and you're too dumb and hormone-addled to read between the lines, and John Bonham's son happens to release a song about waiting for someone right around the same time, well, there's really no way around it — you're going to have Bonham's "Wait for You" on heavy rotation. You're also going to purchase the faux prog-rock record it came from, and you will end up listening to every non-"Wait for You" song far less than you listened to "Wait for You."

"Does She Love That Man?," Breathe
I did not like "Hands to Heaven" at all. But perhaps that's only because I wasn't in the right place to appreciate it, romantically speaking — at least based on the evidence of the objectively inferior "Does She Love That Man?," which is the type of song that any crooner worth his weight in hair gel could write in his sleep, and yet one that inspired me to take the cassingle plunge and play over and over again while suffering through a lengthy and unhappy breakup in late 1990. Credit where credit's due: Breathe broke up after this album, and have apparently declined to reunite at all in the decades since. More bands should be so bold.

"Lay My Love," Brian Eno and John Cale
This song is a fitting one to end on, since yesterday's post included a few words about how the Northern Exposure soundtrack introduced me to Daniel Lanois' solo work — and the show was also responsible for introducing me to this song, which drew me in even though under different circumstances, I'm pretty sure I would have declined the opportunity to investigate anything by Brian Eno or John Cale. As tends to be the case with music used for TV or film, the context had a lot to do with my appreciation — in this case, the episode revolved around a younger character helping an older character choose the site of her eventual burial and then joining her in dancing on the dirt — but all that aside, this is still one great song.