They say that everyone has a story to tell, but that's not true. There's always more than one.
In 1979 I was playing in a band called the Blame, doing songs by The Ramones, ? and the Mysterians, the Who, and other bands with the in their names. "We're the Blame" was fun to say when people asked who we were. It felt like a confession.
At the time there was a thing called D.I.Y. going around. Doing it yourself was true of any band I'd ever been in, but finally somebody coined the expression and gave it credibility. Otherwise, we were just four broke musicians booking our own gigs and hauling our own equipment. Because of D.I.Y. our position as outsiders was an advantage. Whatever we lacked in polish, we made up for in authenticity.
It didn't hurt that we could get people up dancing.
The D.I.Y. attitude extended to songwriting. The possibilities were endless- anything might catch on- so we went exploring and wrote and arranged a bunch of our own stuff. We got wind of a guy who had opened a recording studio in Marietta, at an old movie house he called Atlantic Sound Productions. He was offering an incredible deal- 500 7" singles, recorded, mixed, and pressed, for $595. We somehow raised the money and made the date. Soon we had a record.
A while after that I came up with a hook for a song about a guy who just could not stop thinking about his girl. He knew he had to go to work to make the rent, but found himself making a break for her place instead. What a predicament! When I got home from my job (where I had scribbled down the lyrics) I grabbed my Strat and worked out the chords and melody. The guy I pictured performing the song was charismatic Sam Luger, guitarist and singer for our "cross-town rivals", The Sharks.
Glenn Redcay and I recorded a demo of this song, called You Make Me. I ran a cassette over to the Sharks' studio and they liked it, quickly turning it into an exciting live number in the clubs they were playing. It was weird and wonderful to be in The Village when the band hit the opening harmonies and folks made a dash for the dance floor. It was even more wonderful when they recorded the song and it became a hit on regional FM stations. I couldn't believe it- there was a song I wrote playing on my car radio. Of course I expected it to go national and put me in clover.
But that wave never did break. Now, the people who write books about how to succeed in the music business all agree about one thing- that it's a business. At some level, someone who makes the decision about what gets promoted nationally had a listen to the song and didn't see potential there, or saw more potential somewhere else. In any business there's only so much time and money to go around.
I rerecorded You Make Me a couple of times and promoted it myself, but people in the business told me that the song was "bandie" by which they meant that they couldn't hear it as a hit for anyone other than the Sharks. Well, fair enough- they were very generous to pick it up, and they did an amazing thing with it, and a bunch of us around here will always remember it fondly.
mid-century modern