It’s That Song…You Know…That Song

So. There’s this Todd Rundgren song. In fact, it’s THIS Todd Rundgren song:

But I didn’t always know the title, or that it was even Todd Rundgren. I knew there was this song that at some point said “in my mind” or “in your eyes” or “in my eyes” or something that sounded like that. The song would float around in pieces in my head, but I couldn’t for the life of me identify it. So I would go on YouTube and just type in the few lyrics I kind of knew to try to pinpoint it, but the lyrics were too common, and I couldn’t find it that way.

Then about two weeks ago, Rundgren appeared on Letterman and was playing throughout the show–every time they’d go to commercial, he’d start another song of his. Well on one of these cuts to commercial, I heard the chords of this song. So I got on YouTube, and typed “in your eyes” AND “Todd Rundgren” and bingo. I found the song. And then I downloaded it. And now it’s in my iPod, and goes wherever I go.

I didn’t say it was an interesting story.

But I do have a point in telling it. And that’s to illustrate the difference between nailing down a song’s title like that now and twenty-some odd years ago. When I found this song, I immediately flashed back to a time when my Dad and I were trying to figure out…that song. You know…that song? It was like… “into the night, into the night” or “into the light, into the light” and there was piano and this bassline and we just loved it. We had to figure out what it was. So we would sing it for other people, to see if they knew it. They didn’t. Or we sang poorly. When that didn’t work we’d listen to the radio in the hopes of catching it at some point. Eventually we did. Then we waited for the DJ to identify it. He calls it “Stepping Out” by Joe Jackson, so we called the radio station to request the song the next night. When it was finally played, I taped it off the radio by holding my tape player over the radio, trying to edit out the DJ’s intro and outro by timing “record” and “pause” just right. Then I put that tape filled with songs acquired in a similar fashion in my walkman, so it could come with me wherever I went.

The ways I’ve hunted a song I couldn’t place have changed. And I could say that part of me laments the passing of the days when it was all about taping off the radio–which I do miss. But not all of me grieves for this change. Because the satisfaction once I catch it, and the need to have it in my little music device so that it never slips out of my memory again has remained exactly the same. And that’s really the most important thing.

Well, that and that I never again have to worry about some overly chatty DJ ruining my “recording session.” Because that really did suck.

Sass Wagon

Sass Wagon (or Dana, if you prefer formality) grew up in Pennsylvania in the 80s and 90s. She kinda needs a haircut.

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11 thoughts on “It’s That Song…You Know…That Song

  1. Great post. Music really has changed dramatically with the web. I remember when I first had access to gopher, one of the first things I used it for was song lyrics. It was a dream come true for someone who was always curious about titles of songs or lyrics that were difficult to understand.

  2. Doug says:

    The good (?) old days. Did you ever record a song off TV? Put the boombox up to the TV speakers and record the Monkees?

  3. HaHa, I used to do that for comedy specials and stand up comedians on talk shows. I wish that I had kept those cassettes more than a few times my arms got tired or I stopped paying attention and dropped the boombox during recording.

  4. Dennis Downing says:

    I recorded the entire Rankin Bass adaptation of The Hobbit on cassette in the same manner. It was hard to hold the portable recorder still for that length of time though! Guess I should have put it on the footstool :)

  5. Great post! I taped The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe with a cassette player and plug-in mic off the TV and my sister and I used to listen to it over and over and recite all the lines. Another thing I did with my next door neighbor was we’d play Shaun Cassidy’s first album over a walkie talkie to each other. For some reason it gave us more of a thrill than just playing the record on the record player.

  6. Atari Adventure Square says:

    Oh man, those were the days.
    Surely heard that Rundgren song before (had an old DJ in my head go “a-ha!” then fall back to sleep) but it never stuck in my mind.
    Recently listened to some compilation albums called One-Hit Wonders and boy, did that set off a few flashback moments (and several shudders).

    But yeah, was it ever fun to capture the elusive sounds of TV and Radio on a tape recorder (and is it me, or did batteries last longer in the 80s?).
    I even recently found some snapshots I took of Peter Criss unmasked on Tom Snyder’s Tomorrow Show.

  7. Doug says:

    Snapshots? You took pictures of the TV screen? Now that’s one I never heard of before.

  8. I used to record Sanford and Son with my cassette recorder in my youth…I also did this with the classic TV movie Alligator. I would play the flushing sound of the toilet, just over and over on the bus…kept my fellow students entertained for months. The bus driver?

    Not so much.

  9. Atari Adventure Square says:

    Doug – It was on the same roll as my Pitfall score I sadly never sent in.

    I remember being so hyped about that appearance and really really glad to have that camera ready and prepped with film (not Polaroid, so I had to wait weeks to fill it up with other fun stuff before having it developped).

  10. mwentworth says:

    I made tons of tapes off the radio as a kid, only one has survived. I really need to convert into an mp3, just for S&G. I remember a big ritual for a while was trying to record Dr. Demento off the air each week.

    On identifying songs; simple me is easily fascinated by the Song Tapper:

    It could not suss out my spacebar rendition of Todd Rundgren, but something like “Breakin the Law” is no trouble at all.

  11. Jeremy says:

    There are also several Android and Iphone apps that let you sing the song and then it tries to find it. It actually works from time to time.

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