Music Helplines: Nostalgic Music Is Just A Phone Call Away!

Current life situation got you down? Feel that you’re out of touch? Do you feel it callin’ in the air tonight? Longing for old days? Don’t think twice that it’s alright, Sweet Caroline! Pick up the phone and call one of five (yes, five!) music helplines to soothe that current life situation!

Where Does She Find This Stuff?

Why, the internet! You use it for your needs, I’ll use it for mine…and my nefarious, entertaining, and strange purposes.

You call it weird, I call it research!

Seriously Though, Music Helplines?

Yes, Music Helplines! And in 2011, it became a thing, beginning with these two guys makin’ all your dreams come true!

The concept is simple: dial a number, get a robot voice that prompts you to dial an option (1, 2, 3, or 4, or, in the case of the Hall and Oates line, 5, 6, 7, and 8), and listen to the song each prompt corresponds with. Because there’s a time where you don’t have a device with music on it (I never have this problem), and you absolutely NEED Phil Collins to remind you she’s an easy lover, Neil Diamond to sing about Sweet Caroline, Hall and Oates to give you some Adult Education, Bob Dylan To Be Your Baby Tonight, or Chicago to remind you of a certain Saturday in a certain park.

So naturally, there is only one course of action here, because writing it out doesn’t do it justice, right?

Allison’s Callin’ Oates (And Those Other Music Helplines!)

Well, I tried to call, and well…all the “helplines” except for Callin’ Oates are disconnected. I was so excited, I shot a video of the experience of dialing a phone number and getting a music fix. Instead, I got a bunch of Verizon Wireless error messages.  Totally not cool.

However, as I said, Callin’ Oates still works!

The playlist in the video is the original 2011 playlist. An updated version in 2012 gave Hall and Oates fans (did they have a grouping name?) eight new songs, as well as spin-offs for Phil Collins, Chicago, Bob Dylan, and Neil Diamond. As I said, these additions to the “music helpline” family of “emergency music contribution” no longer exist, but the original Callin’ Oates does.

Go on and click play for a short demonstration!

Upload via Allison Venezio / Allison’s Written Words

If internet searches as forces of evil include the need for Hall and Oates, then fine, I’m “evil.” :-)

Related Readings

Ringing In The Anniversary of Callin’ Oates: A 2012 article celebrating the first anniversary of Callin’ Oates, and the introduction of several other music helplines. Published on Twilio.

Music Monday – March 5, 2018: I talk about the latest song to get stuck in my head…a Hall and Oates song!

Did You Know Chicago Performed on Solid Gold?

Chicago on Solid Gold? Seriously, Chicago the band on a show known for dancers in gold lame shorts…in the same sentence?!

I’ll let that sink in.

Guess What Allison Found!

Fresh off their post-Cetera lineup change in 1985-1986, Chicago proved they can play the heck out of any venue…even if that venue was known for female dancers in gold lame shorts dancing to the day’s biggest songs. You probably didn’t know Chicago performed on Solid Gold, and neither did I…until now!

But It’s True!

In 1987, Chicago performed not one, but TWO songs from Chicago 18 – Adult Contemporary radio staple (31 years and counting!) “Will You Still Love Me?”

…and the lesser-known Bill Champlin/David Foster-penned “It’s Alight.” For the record, there were no gold lame shorts-clad dancers slinking around the stage to “It’s Alright.”

Because it would just be weird if they did it to “Will You Still Love Me,” right?

Here’s my point – there were no dancers.  Just lots of neon shirts, mustachioed Bill Champlin, and Jason Scheff’s permullet.

I swear, you get a 23-year-old lead singer, and suddenly, you start appealing to the youth!

You’d love to hear/see these songs, wouldn’t you?

Will You Still Love Me For Sharing This Performance?

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I swear, this song has the effect of forcing you to forgive Jason Scheff for something – anything – that he probably has ever done. Every transgression, disagreement, and argument – forgiven when he sings this.

If he threw in a hair flip, this article would be a series of keystrokes I didn’t even realize I made. Because my head probably hit the keyboard upon blacking out.

But wait, there’s more! And Robert Lamm is happy to tell you all about it!

It’s Alright…Oh, Right! That’s the Name of the Song!

Robert Lamm, proud emcee and spokesperson, is happy to introduce their next song, and its singer!

And he used the song’s title to describe it – he’s so funny!

Upload via The Music of Chicago & Related

So, here’s my question: how did this song not see a release? It’s a great song, combining everything we love about Chicago with the sweet 1980s sound that made up the second wave of their legacy. And Bill Champlin, despite how I feel about his attitude toward his time with Chicago, has an amazing voice. His contributions were always a welcome delight.

Plus there’s no denying he truly had the coolest mullet of them all….

…until his gorgeous mane of awesomeness took over.

Have You Heard Tris Imboden’s Chicago Story?

“As many of you have already heard, our long-time drummer Tris Imboden has resigned. For nearly thirty years Tris has shared his tremendous talent, and indeed his life, with Chicago. We are fortunate to have known him and grateful to have shared the stage with him these many years. He has been a great friend and band mate and we’ll miss his enthusiasm and contagious smile. We wish Tris and Mary a lifetime of happiness together.” – Statement from Chicago’s website

The Chicago Shakeup

I logged onto YouTube yesterday to find a response to a comment I made on a Chicago performance video that vocalist and bassist Jeff Coffey left the group. His leaving comes after only joining the group full time in October 2016 (he initially filled in for Scheff during his leave of absence in mid-2016), but also two days after another shakeup in the group.

As the statement says, after twenty-eight years of drumming and flashing a smile that says “I love my job” (and not in the fake way people who actually hate their job smile), Tris Imboden resigned from the group. His recent marriage and the rigorous travel and touring schedule were cited as his reasons. While this makes me sad, the decision was obviously for great reason, thus proving that we haven’t seen the last of Tris Imboden’s talent.

What we have seen the last of, however, is this.

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Amazing.

1990: The Summer Without A Tour

Tris Imboden’s Chicago story begins long before his arrival in 1990 – he saw the group perform as an opening act in 1968 (remember, they were new at the time!), and he loved their music immediately. Imboden’s talents took him to the Kenny Loggins Band (yes, that  Kenny Loggins), as well as Al Jureau, among other talents. The summer of 1990 saw Tris without either band he toured with going on tour that summer. The opportunity he was given was hard to pass up, and the rest, as they say, is history. For Tris Imboden, it was a twenty-eight-year journey that even his battle with Stage 3A Lung Cancer couldn’t put to an end.

Would You Like To Hear Tris’s Chicago Story?

I think the better question is: Would you like to hear Tris tell you about his career both before AND with Chicago?

I uploaded his excerpts from the mini-documentary The New Guys, filmed in 2014 and included as a bonus feature on the Blu-Ray of Now More Than Ever: The History of Chicago.

Go on, check it out (click his name below the picture), and also witness Tris’s mad harmonica skills!

The New Guys – Tris Imboden (Upload to WordPress via Allison’s Written Words)

Excerpts: 1968, Being A Musician in the 1970s, Joining Chicago, and 1990

Thanks, Tris!

I said it on Twitter already (Chicago and Imboden both “liked” my tweet), but I’ll say it again: This author wishes Tris Imboden all the best in his future successes. His time with Chicago was amazing, and his talent will be missed!

(And this was before Chicago liked the tweet!)

Chicago Did Hip Hop?!

Oh hell yeah, Chicago did Hip Hop!

The Stone of Sisyphus Rolls On…

Returning to roots is not always a bad thing. However, if you’re Chicago, and your record label doesn’t like change, then, well…your album gets shelved.

I received the Chicago album Stone of Sisyphus as a birthday present. When I received it, I only knew “The Pull,” and “Bigger Than Elvis.” As you know, that’s because I wrote previous articles for both songs. Needless to say, I was excited about this gift. As a nostalgia archaeologist (or “Digital Indiana Jones“), I was fully prepared to immerse myself in deeper meanings and unreleased 1990s glory in a 2000s world.

What I found was the cooler, better-sounding 1990s answer to 1979’s “Street Player,” “Sleeping in the Middle of the Bed.” And guess what, they tried disco, so why not…Hip Hop.

That’s right, Chicago did Hip Hop!

Chicago Did Hip Hop?!

Much of Stone of Sisyphus feels like an experimentation of formats. The album departs from the power ballad rabbit hole of the late 1980s. While some of that is represented here, Chicago isn’t beating us over the head with it. They’re embracing the ability to stretch their creative muscles, hence, “Sleeping in the Middle of the Bed.”

According to Robert Lamm:

When John McCurry and I were cutting the demo, I had the lyrics written, we had the track, and I never really sang a melody. I was just kind of riffing. The rhythm of the words was there, but the melody wasn’t. I went out into the studio to do a rough vocal, and McCurry pushed the talkback button and said, “Why don’t you rap it?” And we both started laughing: OK, let’s try that.

According to Bill Champlin:

I think the record company heard that [“Sleeping in the Middle of the Bed”] and went, ‘Wait a minute – white guys don’t do this.’ Simple as that. I told Robert I thought it was an awesome piece, but you’re running up against racial lines here. I think that’s the first time Robert’s crossed any of those lines in a good long while.

Of course, in 1993, Bill was experimenting with something far more epic than music…Hair, Party of one!

“Sleeping in the Middle of the Bed” combines the sound of then-contemporary Hip Hop music (commonly referred to as Rap during that time), with the sound of Chicago’s “rock with horns.” I haven’t heard anything quite like this since Tom Jones rapped his heart out. And hey, his career was on a resurgence, so it had to work for Chicago, right?

Having alleged sex appeal probably didn’t hurt either.

Looking for the Big Hit…

It matters if I like it, right?

Because I do!

Unlike the aforementioned Disco Disaster known as “Street Player,” this song actually works! It is fun, funky, and experimental to the hilt! The obvious “we’re having fun” vibe is present throughout. And this grouping of lyrics?

I read somewhere that religion is for people
Who want to stay out of hell
I was praying for a sign or a vision or a message
Till you been there you won’t get well
I was sitting in a room I’d never recognize it
With a picture before my eyes
I’ve been sleeping in the middle of the bed again
I’m not sure this qualifies

I’d say a helluva good drug was available when Robert Lamm wrote this song, but he was clean for quite a few years at this point.

That Chicago Hip Hop Song…

Robert Lamm co-penned “Sleeping in the Middle of the Bed” with songwriter John McCurry, who has also worked with Cyndi Lauper, Billy Joel, David Bowie, Alice Cooper, John Waite, Belinda Carlisle, Julian Lennon, Joss Stone, Katy Perry, The Jonas Brothers, and Elliott Yamin. Robert Lamm is responsible for the vocals.

Someone that is quite possibly even more white than Robert Lamm. And Tom Jones.

Walter Parazaider discussed the exploration of this untapped genre:

Robert was just exploring another genre, which we’d been doing since Day One. I hink the only things we haven’t covered are Dixieland and polkas, and give us long enough we’ll probably do that too.

 

Because when you’ve done Disco, Hip Hop, Rock, and Power Ballads, this is naturally the course you must take.

Naturally!

I have to give Lamm kudos – on an album that already was quite the experimental mix, this song definitely stands out. And while “standing out” isn’t always a good thing, this was A Good Thing. I’ll give that it sounds bizarre for someone who had never rapped before (read: a 40-something-year-old white guy who sang in Italian on “Saturday in the Park”) to attempt it, but Tom Jones did it, so why not Lamm? Credit where credit is due, this song was creative in its efforts.

The disco album, on the other hand, was selling out.

“Sleeping in the Middle of the Bed”

And now, the part of the article where I unleash the song on you!

Ladies and gentlemen, Chicago rapping about religion, love storms, and lying dormant in a selected spot on a specified sleeping area.

Upload via Chicago – Topic

So now, you can tell everyone about that time that Chicago did Hip Hop…and prove it to them!

Not that this comes up in those bar/pub quiz nights, but if it does…