Saturday, August 29, 2009

The warriors and the geographical bands

As I write this, some former students from my high school are celebrating at our 30th anniversary reunion. I initially planned to fly to the East Coast to attend, but our family vacation and various other commitments and potential commitments interfered. But the reunionists are reunioning, beginning with a get-together on Friday night, continuing with the major event on Saturday evening, and concluding with a picnic on Sunday afternoon.

Because of the reunion, my brain has been in a reminiscent mood. But not completely. On Friday evening, when I cued up a radio combination of Novaspace radio (yeah, fly bluesmen dropped out, but Eurodance is still in) and Wolfsheim radio, the thought struck me - shouldn't I really be listening to songs from 30 years ago?

So I began thinking about the music from my high school years in the late 1970s, or more specifically the music that I was listening to during my high school years in the late 1970s. Your musical tastes are largely influenced by the people around you, and if my high school classmates were listening to Eno or the Clash or whatever, I certainly wasn't aware of it.

What I was aware of, however, were the geographical bands. Geographical bands have been around forever (one could argue that after Mayor Daley forced a name change, Chicago was a geographical band), but there seemed to be more of them in the late 1970s. I never personally got into New England, but I joined many people in listening to Boston and Kansas. I've told my daughter that if I hear certain songs from those two bands, I can predict what the next note will be in the guitar solo or whatever.

And both bands had links to the geographical areas for which they were named. Tom Scholz wasn't born in Boston, but ended up going to college there:

Tom Scholz '69, SM '70 never expected his passion for music to be much more than a hobby. After graduating from MIT, he worked as a senior product design engineer at Polaroid by day and spent his nights composing and recording demos in his basement studio and playing in local bands.

The late Brad Delp, however was a Massachusetts native.

Kansas was more of a true band (rather than a de facto solo project) than Boston was, and the band's roots are truly in Kansas - specifically, Topeka.

Dave Hope (bass), Phil Ehart (drums, percussion), and Kerry Livgren (guitars, keyboards, synthesizers) formed a progressive rock group named Kansas in 1970 in their hometown of Topeka, Kansas, along with vocalist Lynn Meredith from Manhattan, Kansas, keyboardist Don Montre, keyboardist Dan Wright, and saxophonist Larry Baker.

Vocalist Steve Walsh, on the other hand, originally came from a distant location...Missouri.

But enough talk. Here's Boston's "More Than a Feeling."

And Kansas' "Carry On Wayward Son."

P.S. Since I took both of those videos from, it's worthwhile to mention one more thing. Some of you will recall that MTV didn't exist when I graduated from high school in 1979. I do remember, however, going to Alan Carter's house one night. He had cable, and that night we noticed that HBO had some type of jukebox with visuals between the movies. They showed the band Raydio obviously lip-syncing to their song "You Can't Change That." As I've previously noted, I thought it was the funniest thing in the world, and couldn't imaging that the whole "video" thing would take off just a few years later. (Sorry, Michael Nesmith; I didn't have the faith.)

P.P.S. Yes, the picture at the top of this post is a bit of an inside joke. Not only does it show a "Boston" band that was a little more traditional than the Boston band that Tom Scholz created, but it also shows people playing flutes - and I was a flute player in high school. If I had a flute today, I'd play the Wakefield Warriors fight song for you...
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