Tag Archives: 1970s music

#138 and 139 – Baby Blue

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#138 & 139 – Baby Blue by Badfinger

Badfinger

I don’t mean to sound like a broken record, but The Classic Rocker is all about memories. I don’t mean to sound like a broken record, but The Classic… oh, wait. Sometimes I do.

So, after making that guideline clear and understandable, let me say this song brings back a big one. Except there’s a twist. Baby Blue had nothing to do with the following memory. It had already been a hit decades before and wasn’t even being played while I had an experienced memory of a lifetime.

Baby Blue appears on my digital playlists more than any other song by Badfinger. That’s saying a lot because this band had four fab hits within a short time period in the late sixties and early seventies that I still enjoy. In addition to Baby Blue, I’m referring to Come and Get It, No Matter What and Day After Day. And the use of fab was on purpose since the Badfinger quartet was signed to Apple Records, which was owned by the original Fab Four quartet.

Badfinger with George

It also didn’t hurt that their first hit was written and produced by Paul McCartney, and they were introduced as members of George Harrison’s backup band during The Concert for Bangladesh. But after Baby Blue was released in 1972 and scored as another big hit on college radio, the band’s story turned tragic. The dark side of the music business hit these guys full force with devastating bad deals and lost fortunes resulting in two suicides within the group. It wasn’t anywhere near the rock and roll lifestyle fantasy you’d expect for a band scoring hits on both sides of the Atlantic and beyond.

Come and Get It!

Baby Blue turned up twice as a Dream Song thanks to the mysterious workings of the waking mind. As mentioned, it’s frequently on my playlists which is probably why it appears twice in the recent memory category. In other words, I had just heard it. And both times, on September 29 and November 28, my waking brain forgot to remember about my days rocking out to college radio. Instead, it took a mysterious turn to a sold-out show decades later in a comedy club.

Here’s the story…

In the fall of 1994, my wife Deceptive Deb (not exactly a handed-down traditional family name) and I were still newlyweds and about five months into our permanent arrangement of everlasting love. Since we weren’t exactly teenagers (far from it), one of our dreams was to have a baby and still be young enough to enjoy hanging out with him or her before we’re the ones being fitted out for diapers and daycare. Our clock was ticking but we didn’t know when – or even if – it would happen.

I had also just embarked on a new career as a newspaper columnist. Yes, in 1994 people still read newspapers. It was only after I realized they weren’t that The Classic Rocker was born as a digital, online rambling of words.

One of my weekly columns was about the comedy scene in Cleveland, Ohio. Since I had worked with many comedians during my career in New York and Los Angeles, this employment meant I’d get to hang around with my friends when they were in the city and watch their shows in clubs and theaters without paying for anything. Not a bad gig, except when I’d receive my paychecks and realized the newspaper was also keeping me hanging around without paying for anything.


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A couple weeks in advance I learned one of our favorite comedians would be performing at a large comedy club in Cleveland called Hilarities. This was a huge venue for a “club” and could seat over five hundred comedy fans per show. Thanks to the comic’s popularity his shows were sold out, but also thanks to my important newspaper credentials, Deceptive Deb and I would have a table in a prime location two or three rows from center stage on a Friday night.

In the days before this laugh fest, I remember walking into our kitchen a few times to find Deceptive Deb in the middle of low-key, almost whispering, phone conversations. What’s up with that? But after delivering that standard question I would receive the standard “You’re an idiot” look that husbands can detect from great distances. Even as a newlywed I had already learned it’s best to play the part of an idiot in these cases and not to ask any more questions.

We arrived for the comedy show and nothing about the evening seemed any different than the countless times we had been at the club before. The owner and manager had become friends and we were led to our table at the prime location. We ordered drinks and it didn’t faze me that Deceptive Deb had a Pepsi while I went for a beer. I figured that was a clear signal she would be the designated driver and I might have another (or two) by the end of the night.

We watched the two opening comics and were ready for the show’s headliner. But instead of the MC appearing on stage to make the introduction, the manager walked up to the microphone and asked for the audience’s attention. Probably not expecting the unexpected, it seemed like all five hundred (plus) people in the showroom quieted down and waited for him to make an important announcement. I had no idea what he would say and thought maybe some lucky audience member would be gifted with a new car or a free vacation to a tropical island.

It was neither. Oprah was not in the audience.

He was holding a champagne bucket filled with ice and a bottle of bubbly decorated with bows and ribbons. Once again, I had no idea and might have assumed it was for somebody’s birthday or possibly Oprah’s arrival.

It was neither. Instead, he called out my name and asked if I was in the audience. Okay…

He knew I was in the audience since he had walked us to our table and had even hung out for a few moments to talk. A bit caught off guard but always ready to roll with the punch(lines), I went with the “joke,” raised my hand and called out, “I’m over here!” He looked at me, held up the bucket and said, “This is for you!”

What was up with that? I had no clue…

He walked off stage and came to our table, bringing the microphone with him. The spotlights followed and next thing we knew, Deceptive Deb and I were the stars of the show. He placed the champagne bucket on the table and handed me an envelope. But before I had a chance to open it, he told me to stand and read it out loud into the microphone.

I still had no clue. But I did know this…

The Classic Rocker has no problem being the center of attention and talking in public. It’s called “showbiz” and when the spotlight is on – I’m on!

I stood up, opened the card, and started reading. The sold-out audience stayed quiet, probably hoping I would change my name to Oprah and award them with cars or vacations. Deceptive Deb stayed seated and looked as confused as I did with everything that was going on.

Note to the Academy Awards – this moment should have earned her a nomination for Best Actress. I continued to read into the microphone…

“Congratulations!” the card said on the front. I opened it – still with no clue – and continued out loud…

“You’ve knocked-up your wife!”

The next few memory moments are a blur, but I’ll guarantee they included shock and surprise. I have a mental picture of looking up with bulging eyes and a wide-open mouth as the audience erupted with BIG cheers and applause. Deceptive Deb stood up, we hugged and… Well, like I said, it was and still is a blur.

It turned out her whispered and secretive phone calls were setting me up for this big moment. Nice one… to say the least!!

We must have eventually sat down because I’ve retained a memory of not standing through the rest of the evening. The champagne cork was popped and I’m sure I had a glass of the bubbly and Deceptive Deb possibly a sip or two, before it was time to continue the show. After the headliner, who was (and still is) known as one of the funniest insult comedians in the biz and someone I’d known for years, was introduced he stood on stage and glared at our table. He finally spoke into the microphone:

“My show was f***’n delayed for YOU?!”

Again, the audience cheered, I waved, and we were back to laughing. If there was a category in Dream Songs for the best comedy show I’ve ever attended, this was it.

So, to get back to what we were talking about earlier, Baby Blue was never heard that night. But hearing it today brings back the blur of that evening, which was also my first experience with a baby of our own. Things were never really the same after that, my baby blue


For whatever reasons, WordPress won’t allow me to include a video of Badfinger performing Baby Blue. But you can check it out on YouTube at this LINK.


Dave Schwensen is The Classic Rocker and author of The Beatles At Shea Stadium and The Beatles In Cleveland. Visit Dave’s author page on Amazon.com.

For information about author presentations for both books – including rare concert films – visit BeatlesProgram.com

Copyright 2021 – North Shore Publishing

#142 and 143 – Walk On The Wild Side

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#142 and 143 – Walk On The Wild Side

#142 & 143 – Walk On The Wild Side by Lou Reed

I had a college roommate I didn’t like very much. That’s okay, because I’m sure he didn’t like me at all. We only shared a room for one quarter of a school year, which was enough. The guy moved out and I never saw him again. But that doesn’t mean my adventures with his “family” were over.

I can’t remember why we antagonized each other. It was never to the point where we had heated arguments or even close. It’s just that he was as annoying as I was, and we got on each other’s nerves. It’s no wonder I had the best grade point average of my entire college career during that quarter because I spent more time in the library than I did in our room.

So, what’s the connection between one of my many (maybe I was the problem?) college roommates and Lou Reed? I don’t think there was any really, if you know anything about Lou Reed, The Velvet Underground and Andy Warhol. But there was a common denominator:

Walk On The Wild Side.

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Andy Warhol and Lou Reed

This song joined the Dream Song List twice on December 26 and almost a year to the day later on December 24. This gives Walk On The Wild Side a very special status – and I’m not talking about a December holiday theme. If you’ve read about how this countdown works, the more times a song appears causes it to rank higher on the list. Every song up to now has been a one-hit, one-wakeup wonder.

Walk On The Wild Side is the first repeat, which gives us new meaning to the term – Deuces Are Wild. It’s also wild I hadn’t heard it in a while, unlike during the time we shared a room. I’ll explain that in moment, but for right now it joins the subliminal category of Dream Songs.

I’m not going to make any allegations my former roommate walked on the wild side. At least not in the way Lou Reed describes it. And as a college freshman, I didn’t either, unless it involved draft beer and cute girls.

But I found out a couple years later his “family” did.

The reason I’m writing about this lost college connection (I honestly can’t remember his first name) revolves around his late night radio habit. He would fall asleep listening to music, which means I did too.

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I’m not complaining about the bedtime tunes since this Classic Rocker was a rocker before these songs were considered classic. In fact, the only fun memory of this guy is having his radio on and hearing Walk On The Wild Side every night before falling asleep. And when I say “every night” I mean it. The station we listened to had this on heavy play rotation during that entire school quarter.

Even decades later when I hear the song, I can immediately picture every detail of our room including bunk beds, desks, chairs, closets and one phone hung on the wall. I used it every Wednesday at 6 pm to call home and say hello to my family.

It became obvious to me later that my family was much different than his “family.”

Okay, I don’t want to make any allegations or give you the wrong idea when I write “family.” It wasn’t like The Godfather or… Oh wait. Yeah, I guess it was.

A year or two later I took a week-long summer road trip to New England’s Cape Cod with one of my best friends, who was also a college fraternity brother. We camped out on sand dunes, ate seafood and hung out at the beach. At night we looked for clubs with draft beer and cute girls.

In retrospective, it was sort of like being in summer school.

In a wild twist of fate, it turned out my ex-roommate’s older brother had attended our same college and was also a member of our fraternity. I had never met him since I was younger, but my pal did. Since he lived close by at his “family” home in Connecticut, a phone call was made and we were invited to the house for an overnight stay.

To be honest, I was a bit worried about the reception I’d have waiting for me, but it turned out very cool. The older brother asked why we hadn’t gotten along, and I answered honestly. I said he annoyed me, and I annoyed him. That was good enough and we had a good laugh. It was also helpful that the brother in question wasn’t there with us.

We ended up having a big Italian dinner with our frat brother, his parents and a few other family members. Then, I’m not sure when the subject came up, but I’ll go ahead and say it was helped by a few glasses of red wine with our pasta. The real family name of our hosts was the same “family” name of a notorious New York Mafia chief.

No lie. But wait. It gets better… Or scarier, if you prefer.

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The notorious gangster who was the real life uncle to the family we were staying with that night had been in the news not too long before. It wasn’t for a big trial, big heist or big insider story. He had been gunned down by a rival “family” on a sidewalk in New York’s Little Italy district.

Yeah, let’s make that scarier rather than getting better… If you prefer (I do). Talk about taking a walk on the wild side…

But to be honest, I’ll stop with the dramatics. I actually felt quite safe even after knowing the “family” connections. I thought if there was any trouble during the night, this group would know how to “go to the mattresses” (Godfather reference for movie novices) while my pal and I could sleep safe in an upstairs bedroom at their large house.

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Looking cool?

We had decided the next day to make a quick trip into New York City before heading home. I was reminded by our host that I had talked during dinner (and wine) about wanting a black, pin-striped suit. We had seen the movie A Clockwork Orange during a rainy afternoon on Cape Cod and for some reason, I thought Malcom McDowell looked cool wearing one.

Tony (our host’s real name, but I’ll keep the last name to myself to avoid needing a witness protection program) walked us to our car and handed me a folded piece of paper. I opened it and saw an address on Mulberry Street in Lower Manhattan’s Little Italy neighborhood. He said to go to the address and tell them he sent us. They’ll take care of me.

Okay…

We drove into Manhattan and found the address on Mulberry Street. It was a men’s clothing store, so we walked in and announced that Tony had sent us. All of a sudden, we had another new “friend” who seemed to be the owner or guardian (or tailor?) of the store. I asked about a black pin-striped suit and he showed me a really nice one in my size. The problem was that it had a very expensive (at least for a college student) price tag. It’s hard to remember exactly, but I’ll guess it was in the $300 range, which was a lot of money for a college student – especially all those years ago.

I told him thanks but no thanks. I couldn’t afford it. But he didn’t seem to be the type of guy who would take no for an answer…

“No problem,” he said, and came down on the price. I still couldn’t do it, so he lowered it again – and even again, if I would pay cash. Our negotiations – me saying no and him coming down in price – continued until we hit $99. Even me (as a college student) knew that was a good deal, but then something happened.

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The head of the family

I must have assumed some of the cockiness Malcom McDowell had in A Clockwork Orange and thought I could get him to cut the price even more, so I refused again. That’s when I realized my assumed movie character was negotiating with one that was closer to Marlon Brando’s in The Godfather.

I remember it started to get a little scary. Don Corleone… or the tailor… began losing his temper and was mad about wasting his time. I had a feeling he was about to “go to the mattresses” and his sights would be aimed at me. I thought the best deal for me was to get out of there – in a hurry.

I turned, walked out of the store and headed toward our parked car. I think there were a few choice words aimed in my direction, but at least I felt a little safer outside, until realizing the head of the “family” where we had stayed the night before might have felt the same way on a Little Italy sidewalk – until bullets started flying in his direction. I also realized $99 was a darn good price for a new suit.

My friend agreed. But in his case, he might have been thinking of my purchase as a peace offering and personal protection, rather than me looking stylish.

I handed him the money with instructions to go back buy the suit. He did, telling Don Corleone… uh, the tailor, that his friend (me) was an idiot to pass up such a deal and that he wanted to buy it for himself. He came back, handed me the suit and I tossed it into our car. Without looking back, we made our getaway uptown where we spent a much calmer afternoon walking around Rockefeller Center before starting the long drive back to our home turf.

I can’t remember where I ever wore the suit, since being stylish in college meant bellbottom jeans and nothing resembling anything seen in A Clockwork Orange or The Godfather. But I can still picture it in my mind looking cool hanging in the closet as a reminder of my Walk On The Wild Side.

Here’s a video of Lou Reed performing Walk On The Wild Side at Farm Aid in 1985.

To purchase the Transformer LP with Walk On The Wild Side by Lou Reed, visit Amazon.com

Have a comment? I’d love to hear from you. Thanks – and keep rockin’!

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Dave Schwensen is The Classic Rocker and author of The Beatles At Shea Stadium and The Beatles In Cleveland. Visit Dave’s author page on Amazon.com.

Copyright 2021 – North Shore Publishing