This coming weekend, I will take to the airwaves of WWSP-90FM, my college radio alma mater, as part of their annual reunion weekends. It will be my first time presiding over a radio program in nine years and my first time on 90FM in over fifteen years. I commemoration, I’m devoting this week to slightly displaced “One for Friday” posts, touching on each of my five years as a student broadcaster. To borrow a line from Robyn Hitchcock, “I didn’t write these songs; they wrote me.”
I took my time getting through college. I didn’t want to leave. Sure, a certain fear of the so-called “real world” was partial inspiration for the dragged feet, but I also had an inner sense that I had more to learn, both from classes and from my leadership role at the college radio station. It was only toward the end of the standard four years that I understood my job was to consider the ways in which all my experiences fed into each other, the ways what I gleaned from my academic pursuits could inform my student broadcaster experience and vice versa. Armed with that motivating philosophy, I’ve no doubt I got more out of my last three semesters or so than I did from all the rest of my schooling combined.
My long goodbye also provided a few useful symbols of closure, led by the release of Copper Blue, the debut album from the band Sugar. I suspect most who give their hearts fully to college radio look back at their time on the left end of the dial with a certain wistfulness over their near misses, by which I mean those bands and artists that stopped creating new music right before that FCC operator license was signed. (That used be a requirement for being a DJ, kids. I was licensed to play Bongos, Bass & Bob songs on the radio, dammit!) For me, the band whose absence from the scene pained me most was Hüsker Dü. Yes, I got to enjoy fine solo work from individual band members, including breakup songs that rivaled anything on Blood on the Tracks. Still, I wish I’d gotten a chance to stand in front of that trio as they careened through a blistering set.
If I couldn’t get a new album and tour out of Hüsker Dü, at least I got Sugar. Following his time in Hüsker, Bob Mould made a pair of solo albums that were fantastic (the first, Workbook, is a flat-out masterpiece). But he claimed he longed for the give-and-take of a band, and three was clearly a comfortable number for him. Copper Blue arrived the fall of my second senior year and provided the propulsive soundtrack I needed. I’m pretty sure I sacrificed a chunk of my hearing at one of their live shows. I’ve always felt it was a reasonable trade-off for a fierce desire fulfilled.
Listen or download –> Sugar, “A Good Idea”
(Disclaimer: Usually, I do my best to make sure the songs I share are unavailable for physical purchase. For this week, I’m scrapping that rule. Instead, I actively urge anyone who enjoys the shared track to treat it as a tantalizing sample and to go out and buy the full-length album on which it resides, preferably from your favorite local, independently-owned record store. I’m thrilled to be going to my favorite this Sunday. I will gladly and promptly remove the file from my little corner of the digital world if asked to do so by any individual or entity with due authority to make such a request.)