Saturday, April 16, 2005

Song of the Week 4/15/05

Graham Parker and the Shot - "Wake Up (Next to You)"

Last Saturday -- for the first time in my life -- I was able to walk to a wedding. My friends Jessica and Kevin were getting hitched right off of Brooklyn's beautiful Prospect Park, which is a 35-minute uphill walk from my abode. It was beautiful and sunny day, so I grabbed the Ipod and -- clad in my Thinker tie and black suit jacket -- and started walking. Since I was going to the nuptials of two friends that I love dearly, I decided I needed to listen to some happy songs about love. I chose a playlist called "Sappy Songs," which starts out with "Wake Up (Next to You)." This was the first song I ever heard from one of England's best songwriters of the past 30 years, Graham Parker.

The track, from Steady Nerves, was Parker's only Top 40 hit in the U-S, and I discovered it via the Top 40 station out of Albany, FLY 92. It wasn't until I got to college that I heard more from Parker's great catalog, such as "Local Girls" and "Discovering Japan" from Squeezing Out Sparks and "Fool's Gold" from Heat Treatment. But "Wake Up (Next to You)" was always my favorite tune -- until I ended up playing it repeatedly about a girl.

(Gee, that's a surprise.)

My sophomore year (1988) I met a girl named Sarah who lived in the same dorm as I did. She had a serious boyfriend who lived on my floor, and she always came down (maybe it was up?) to visit him. They ended up breaking up that spring because, well, she was crazy and VERY flirtatious. It drove this guy nuts.

Fast forward to the summer of 1989: I'm working at the college station, 92 WICB, for the entire summer, getting some really good radio experience. In July our transmitter got struck by lightning, throwing us off the air for just over three days. So I found myself with some time off the air, and Sarah happened to call me at the station to see if I wanted to get together. She was working in Ithaca, and while we'd kept in touch, we'd never really hung out. So that night we proceeded to go to the only bar that I could drink at in town, TJ Tuesdays. 5 dollar pitchers ruled at that joint, and she and I drank many of them. We proceeded to drive (we were stupid, I know) to my pad, and then head back to her place. After making out while watching Rattle and Hum, I admitted that I was exhausted (I got up three days a week at 5am to work that summer), so she told me to get into her bed and she would follow me in in a while. A few minutes later I heard her roommate come home from his job at Dominos. I lied there for a while listening to them chat, and finally passed out.

I awoke at 6am and discovered I had slept alone all night. Puzzled, I got up and went to the bathroom -- and saw Sarah was in bed with her roommate, and it was obvious both of them were naked. I pissed, got the hell out of there and drove home. We were back on the air later that afternoon, which was my normal shift on a Friday. My fourth song of the day was "Wake Up (Next to You)," which I sarcastically dedicated to Sarah. I didn't see her again for the rest of the summer.

When school was just day away from starting at the end of August, I moved into my new on-campus apartment. That first night I discovered that my downstairs neighbor was none other than Sarah. When I bumped into her, I took the high road, asking her how her new boyfriend Jason (the roommate) was and how the rest of the summer went, and just trying to be cordial. The rest of that semester I rarely saw her, but we would be pleasant, even friendly to one another, which was fine with me since I had already found another woman to be fixated upon.

I stayed at the on-campus apartment during winter break of 1990-91 to work once again at the radio station, and surprisingly Sarah stayed as well to work at her off-campus job. We ended up hanging out evenings she was off, since we were the only two people in our entire apartment building that break. And -- you guessed it -- we ended up making out many of those nights, but she would always stop just before sex because she didn't want to cheat on her boyfriend. So about every third morning I would play "Wake Up (Next to You)" either in extreme frustration or total bliss -- I wasn't sure then what I was feeling, and I'm sure as heck not sure now. After that break ended, I never played the song again on air.

In the fall of 1996 The Figgs signed on to back Graham Parker on tour, so as a primer I went out and bought the two-disc Rhino collection Passion Is No Ordinary Word, and there was "Wake Up (Next to You)" on disc two. All the weird feelings I had associated with the song had melted away over those five years, and now it was just another great mushy song from my misspent high school days. So when I was putting together a playlist in I Tunes of "Sappy Songs," it seemed only appropriate for it to kick it off. I listened to the song twice while walking to Jessica and Kevin's wedding, which put me in a good mind set for what ended up being a great ceremony and an even better reception. (And for me, a man that believes marriage is a sham, to say that is pretty amazing.) And once again, WFUV read my mind, as the first song I heard the Monday after the wedding was "Wake Up (Next to You)."

Steady Nerves and Passion is No Ordinary Word are both out of print, but the song does appear, along with 19 other great tracks, on The Ultimate Collection, which you can still order online. So snatch it up, you won't regret it. (Well, unless you end up playing it over and over because you keep getting dissed by the same girl, then you might want to break the disc in half. Just don't blame me if that does indeed happen.)

1 comment:

moria said...

i need to hear this famous song. am i a nerd for not being familiar with it already?