I have an i-pod in my car that has over 5000 songs on it from all the cd’s I bought over the years. I have it set for shuffle and I never know what tune from what era of music is going to play next. Most songs bring back memories, but certain bands or songs stand out. The Smithereens is one of those bands.
If I had to choose the one band that reminds me most of the eighties, it would be the Smithereens. I was single, in my twenties, and spent way too much time in dance clubs and bars. The one song that is guaranteed to bring back memories of that time would be Behind the Walls of Sleep from their album “Especially For You.”
When I hear this song, a specific memory flashes before my eyes. I’m in a bar in San Diego. I can’t remember the name of the bar, but I remember what it looked like. The dance floor consisted of off-white floor tiles like the ones you see in a high school hallway. It’s well-lit and surrounded by a wooden rail. There is a long wooden bar at the back of the club and clumps of tables and chairs in the half-light between the two. The opening riffs of Behind the Walls of Sleep starts to play and the crowd lets out an excited murmur as they scramble for partners and rush to the dance floor. There were certain songs from this album that I heard night after night at this club and others like it – Blood and Roses was another Smithereens’ song that was popular at the time.
The Smithereens followed “Especially For You” up with my favorite of their albums – “Green Thoughts.” This album is not so danceable, but I like all the songs. I’m not sure I could pick a favorite. I like to listen to the cd straight through. If I had to choose it would probably be the cover track Green Thoughts. I also have their “11” album, which has very good music on it as well. You can’t go wrong with any of these.
The Smithereens had a different sound. I called it mellow rock, but it was music with a message, like a folksy pop music. The songs were good to sing and dance to, but they also made you think if you listened to the lyrics. Thinking back on it, it seems strange that this was popular in the dance clubs. Most dance music today has a different feel to it.
I still love to listen to the Smithereens. They’re a good prescription at the end of a stressful day. Their music goes good with a beer or two, especially if you just got out of your kid’s car listening to some of the current music trends.