Thursday, January 8, 2015

It's Something Unknown That Drives You And Carries You Home

There was a time when you couldn't just look things up on the internet to get an answer. You had to work for those answers. Somethings, you never found out. Others, you stumbled on. But generally if you really wanted to find something out, you had to do some work to get the answer.

There was also a time when I really loved Guns N' Roses (don't worry, this all ties together). They were my everything. I bought the albums, t-shirts, posters...all of it. I also bought their double VHS release of their Use Your Illusion tour shows in Japan. 3 hours of early 90s rock excess. They were great.

In the middle of the show, before a certain song that I don't remember, Axl sang a bit of a song by another artist and it always stuck with me:

sail away sweet sister
sail across the sea
maybe you'll find somebody 
that loves you half as much as me
my heart is always with you
no matter what you do 
so sail away sweet sister
i'll always be in love with you

I don't know. I just liked it. And it was a nice, sweet, quiet Axl moment. And I liked Axl.

I knew it wasn't from a Guns N' Roses song and I didn't recognize it from anywhere else. He didn't say where it was from and it wasn't credited anywhere on the packaging.

But I knew it had to come from somewhere. But I had no way of knowing where.

I could do what one did back then: call radio stations or walk up to record store employees and sing the lyrics and hope they recognize it and tell me what it is.

But who's going to actually do that?

So I just went through life not knowing, but always keeping my ear out.

And then a few weeks ago I was listening to the radio and there it was. Those words. Out of the blue. Over 20 years later.

It's Queen.

I'm also a huge fan of Queen and have been since my Guns N' Roses days. I could probably credit being introduced to them via Axl Rose and his love for them - and also Wayne's World. But I don't have their entire discography. If only I would have picked up all of their albums years before...

...but that wasn't the first or the last time that had happened.

Keeping with the Queen theme, after Freddie Mercury died, a big benefit concert happened that EVERYONE played at - Guns N' Roses included. Their performance is still one of my favorite videos:

But anyway...

Robert Plant came out to sing some Led Zepplin songs. I was pretty young and hadn't fully been introduced to Led Zepplin at this time, except for the songs I'd hear on the classic rock station KQ92. But Robert Plant performed a song that I sure thought was pretty:

if the sun refused to shine
i would still be loving you
when mountains crumble to the sea
there will still be you and me

I now know this song as "Thank You". BUT, there was a typo or exclusion on the back of the VHS copy of this concert that was released (that I of course purchased). It said it was "Kashmir" - which is an entirely very different song on an entirely different album.


"Thank You"

So I went to the record store (because back then you couldn't preview the album ahead of time) and bought the album Physical Graffiti because "Kashmir" was on it. Oh, and I bought it on cassette.

I rushed home and placed the cassette in the tape player, so excited to hear the pretty song. I started to fast forward the tape as "Kashmir" was towards the end and at that moment, it was all I wanted to hear. I fast forwarded, rewound, let it play a bit...but nothing. The song that I knew as "Kashmir" was nowhere to be found. I was so confused. And disappointed.

Every once in a while I would try to find it on the tape again, but - obviously - I never could. Physical Graffiti just ended up collecting dust at the bottom of my tape collection.

Sorry, Physical Graffiti.

I don't even know when I discovered it was the wrong song. Obviously I did eventually. But oh the time wasted hitting fast forward and rewind on repeat trying to find that little song.

But the first song that left me searching for years was "Run for the Roses" by Dan Fogelberg.

When I was 7, 8, 9 years old,  I used to listen to the radio at night to fall asleep. My station of choice for this was Lite FM WLTE. WLTE consisted of mostly big ballads and soft rock. There was a lot of Luther Vandross, Whitney Houston, Gloria Estefan...that sort of thing.

And there was Dan Fogelberg and "Run for the Roses" (and his song "Leader of the Band" which is also awesome but not the subject right now).

"Run for the Roses" is a song about horses and the Kentucky Derby. As a young girl who loved horses, it was the Best. Song. Ever. But I was very young and never payed attention to the DJ breaks when they would announce what they just played - and I only ever caught the song by chance, usually while lying in bed trying to fall asleep. But I loved it so and I would get so happy when it would come on.

It wasn't until years later when I was in my teens and I started buying albums on my own that I thought to look for this song. It became an obsession.  I had guessed the song was called "Run for the Roses" or something along those lines and I knew it was a soft rock 70s or 80s male singer/songwriter. So I would spend time reading the tracklistings on the backs of records by the likes of John Denver, James Taylor, Jackson Browne, Kriss Kristofferson...anyone that came to mind.

Dan Fogelberg never came to mind.

And then, one day, I had stayed over at a friend's house. I took a shower the next morning. In the bathroom they had a stereo. Her mom liked to listen to music while she took baths. Next to the stereo was a CD. A Dan Fogelberg's Greatest Hits CD. I picked it up just out of random curiosity and flipped the case over to see if I recognized anything by this guy.

And there it was..."Run for the Roses".

I nearly screamed with excitement. All that time searching and there it was.

The funny thing is, after all the time, it was still a while before I picked up the song. I was just so relieved to finally know what it was. It wasn't until my later teens when I started picking up vinyl that I grabbed this greatest hits collection on vinyl and discovered the 70s/80s soft rock awesomeness that is Dan Fogelberg. I was also thrilled to learn he also sang "Leader of the Band". And then, of course, once iTunes came around, it was an early download for me.

Just look at his awesomeness.

Needless to say, I am thankful for the internet and it's easy access to information. I will never be lost wondering what song I just heard. A quick lyric search of one or two lines gets me the info I need. But I do miss some of those discussions we all used to have - trying to remember the theme songs to TV shows - that sort of thing. Now it's all just a click away.

I'm going to stop now before I sound too old.

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