Flash back to my freshman year at the University of Florida, where I’m sharing a dorm room with a real asshole of a frat-guy cliche. We failed to click right from the start and fortunately he got an apartment a couple weeks into the semester and I wound up having the room to myself.
But once I was playing Elvis Costello and he told me Costello’s voice sounded a lot like the guy from The Smithereens, a favorite band of his. He played me a song and damned if he wasn’t right. Our one bonding moment.
A week or so later, I was walking the campus at night and came across a swarm of people heading off in one direction. Curious, I followed, and happened upon a stage in the middle of a field where who should be playing a free concert but… The Smithereens. It was a great show, all the better for being so unexpected, and I went to buy this album the next day.
Final memory comes a little while after that when I made a mix tape for my sister and included a song from Especially For You, a duet with Suzanne Vega called ‘In a Lonely Place.’ Amy loved the tape but was drawn to that song in particular, which I never would have guessed. (I was going to pick that song for today’s blog entry but decided to go with ‘Crazy Mixed-Up Kid’ instead… it’s two minutes of jangly perfection).
I suppose I should have become a bigger fan of the band, but I never really sought out anything else they did. Especially For You is a triumph start to finish, though, packed with smart power pop and a guy who sounds a lot like Elvis.