All the Music I Still Wear on My Sleeve

So on the radio the other day I heard a song that took me right back to the second grade–The Gatlin Brothers’ “All the Gold in California.” Some excellent stuff. But it got me thinking about what all else I used to listen to about that time. Up until the fifth grade, anyway. I mean, once I hit sixth, I’d discover Prince and Quiet Riot and Shalimar and Terrence Trent D’Arby and the FOOTLOOSE and GREASE soundtracks, and all that would carry me until the Queen that got me through junior high, which itself was just preparation for the Whitesnake and Def Leppard and Poison and Bon Jovi of high school. But before all that, there were all these songs which are still magic to me, and not embarassing at all:

  • Queen of Hearts, Juice Newton
  • Angel of the Morning, Juice Newton
  • All the Gold in California, the Gatlin Brothers
  • Rhinestone Cowboy, Glen Campbell
  • Shock Me, Kiss
  • Looking for Love, Johnny Lee
  • Cruel to be Kind [Nick Lowe?]
  • Heart of Glass, Blondie
  • America, Neil Diamond
  • Watchin the Wheels, John Lennon
  • How Deep is Your Love, BeeGees
  • Ebony & Ivory, Stevie Wonder
  • Luchenbach, Texas, Waylon Jennings
  • I Write the Songs, Barry Manilow
  • Somebody’s Knockin’, Terri Gibbs
  • Talking in Your Sleep, The Romantics
  • You Better You Bet, The Who
  • Swingin’, John Anderson [this was 5th grade–end of an era]


Also there’s Charlie McClaine and Mickey Gilley’s “Paradise Tonight,” but that one’s stayed with me through all the others, so I don’t know for sure when I found it. And yeah, I know, I say I’m all about Elvis, but where’s the King, right? I don’t know. I guess all his records were too high for me to reach back then or something–too special. There was some Abba song I used to like a lot too, but I don’t know their stuff well enough anymore to pull up a title.Wait: “Dancing Queen,” yes? Something like that. Then there was some song of theirs that said ‘Daddy’ or ‘Papa’ or . . . I don’t know. Give me a Tab, maybe I could remember then.

But yeah, to be cool, I know I should list a lot of Dylan and Seger and Springsteen, or some of the metal going on then, maybe even punk (which I still have zero taste for). But I think they were all post-fifth grade for me. Either that or I’m not cool. Which has been said a time or two.

Talking music, though, man, I still remember the first time I heard Garth Brooks’ “Friends in Low Places.” I was seventeen, I think, not in school anymore, just out driving around. Finally I stopped by a lube shop where a friend had just started working. Before I could say anything he pulled me by the arm back into the boss’s office, closed the door, and we sat there by a little radio changing stations until he found it just starting up. And it was pure magic. Everything was changing around us. We could hear it, I mean. You don’t get many moments like that, I don’t think.