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Compilation Albums, Sentimental Journeys

March 20, 2012

I just got back from a Sentimental Journey.

Do you remember that song?  Sentimental Journey.  I don’t.  It’s older than my mother.  But I remember the compilation album — Time Life Music’s Something-something Big Bands — which, circa 1985, was advertised on the TBS Superstation roughly 200 times a day.

“Gonna take a sentimental journey. . .”  That’s all I got.  Because then the commercial’s music sampling switched to the song “Pardon me boy, is that a Chattanooga Choo Choo. . .” before it switched to something else.  Probably a ditty by Peggy Lee.

“What the hell?” you say.


As I write this, I’m just 48 hours removed from a 12-hour drive home from Texas where I’ve been visiting my brother and his family the past week.  Isn’t that so very sentimental?

Isn’t this so very sentimental?  (Love you, bro.)

Some highlights of the trip:

In Kansas.  When my son peed on his legs and the floor and the walls and the toilet (and my arms) in the restroom of a Pizza Hut.  Don’t worry — I cleaned it up.  Because every time I use a public restroom I fret about whether some woman’s son just peed on the floor and the walls and the toilet.  He did.

In Texas.  When my husband nearly heart-attacked after spotting his parents’ doppelgängers in a deli.  Except they were Asian.  I saw them only from behind but can confirm they looked like exact replicas of his parents’ backsides if they were Asian.  I even spotted a toothpick hanging out of the man’s mouth that looked like an exact Asian replica of the toothpick my father-in-law sports.

In Oklahoma.  When I was attacked in an aviary by a family of Lorikeets — which are like red-eyed, jumbo-sized, tie-dyed parakeets on LSD.  More so a crack-addicted frenzy of feathers and poop.  Especially after you’re handed a plastic cup of nectar.  A cup of nectar that the aviary insists you hold in your hand or else they’ll freak out and spill it on the ground out of spite.

If you could read my lips here you’d know I’m saying, Please tell me these things aren’t about to hop onto my head.  

In fact, they did.  This is precisely when I notice the one on my wrist who is starting to look quite brazen and punchy and possibly confused by my red-striped parrot suit.

Two, yes, two birds ended up on my head.  Sadly, a photo of this dramatic encounter does not exist as my husband had to put down his phone to free the one who got his toenail caught in my hair.  Loud screeching and frantic flapping in the process.  But the birds seemed fine about it.

It was all so very ironic.  For nearly five Halloweens I’ve dressed as Tippi Hedren.

Did I mention I was going to talk about compilation albums?  

Yes, long before we had iPods or even the Random Mode button on our stereos, we had to rely on radio deejays and crazy-boyfriend-mixed-tapes for our glorious musical compilations.

And then . . . Hallelujah!  Praise the Lord!  Time Life Music came around.

The best part about these TV commercials is that it brought me up to speed on what the kids have been listening to the past three decades.  My parents were squares so I didn’t know much outside of The Beach Boys.

The worst part about these TV commercials is that I’d later hear the chorus number of any one of those songs and would immediately expect the next song in the commercial’s line-up to break in.  I believed “I’ve seen fire and I’ve seen rain. . .” led into “Rock me gently, rock me slowly. . .” led into “We made love in my Chevy van and that’s all right with me. . .”  If James Taylor and Sammy Johns made love in a Chevy van, this compilation song would be their lovechild.

Some of my favorite TV-advertised compilation albums were AM Gold, Sounds of the 70s and Monster Ballads.  But purely from an advertising standpoint, I most loved Freedom Rock.  See for yourself.

I always appreciated when the commercials would tell you about the albums’ availability on four cassette tapes or two Compact Discs!  Come again?  Compact Disc?  Nope, never heard of him.

Sometimes these same commercials would be extended and featured at 3 AM (the Director’s Cut version) and would last a half-hour.  I liked to watch these infomercials back-to-back-to-back with a bag of Doritos after I had all but given up on the world, which I call my Moody Blues period.

Here, in between a repetitive sampling of the album’s songs (and amid a montage of beach scenes), we’d sometimes see a couple lying by a fireplace pretending to chat and be genuinely in love and be genuinely human.

Then they’d giggle and interrupt the song sampling and tell us that if we liked Sounds of 1977 we can follow-up and order Sounds of 1978!  You mean, it gets better than 1977?  Oh, boy!  Actually, I think we both know that after 1977 it pretty much went straight to crap.

What does this have to do with my family road trip?

One of my main goals for the vacation was to make time to ask my brother about the hits by the original artists.  I must remember more about this story.  I must harvest it for my next blog post.

Unfortunately, my brother could only remember what I remembered.  The same story he told me nearly two decades ago.

That is, a friend of his in college ordered a compilation album from TV.  No one remembers which one.  So I’ll guess Monster Ballads (and I’d put money on that).  It featured hits by the original artists!  When it arrived in the mail, the guy gave it a listen.  And it sounded horrible.  So he called the company.  What is this crap?  These songs sound nothing like the original songs.  They sound like some junky cover band playing the songs.  It says here, “hits by the original artists”.  

That’s when he learned of a little-known band called The Original Artists.

Yes, they performed those songs you’re hearing.  Yes, that’s why these songs sound like complete crap.  Enjoy!

For obvious reasons, this story led us into a lengthy discussion about our equally unnerving experience with trying to escape the BMG Music Club Cult.  Which is an entirely different blog post for another day for when I have time to open up on that terrifying chapter of my life.

I’ve already discussed enough terror for one day.

45 Comments leave one →
  1. March 20, 2012 11:33 am

    I ADORE this! Totally devastated about the absent photo of you with birds on your head. Though worry not – I have a rather extensive imagination, so it’s not a huge leap to visualise it. They made a nest out of your hair, right?

    You and your brother look very cute together – haven’t changed a bit since your childhood pic! ;)

    • March 20, 2012 1:30 pm

      Please by all means visualize that delightful Kodak moment. I’m sure I have a few Halloween-Tippi-Hedren-inspired photos lying around that might give you an image from which to springboard that extensive imagination of yours.

      Always a pleasure to see you!

  2. Tony permalink
    March 20, 2012 11:51 am

    Aww, I love you too! Sorry thing is that I look like I just rolled out of bed in that photo. (When in fact, I had.)

    • March 20, 2012 1:24 pm

      Because you mentioned this, I just went back and made the photo larger. You’re welcome!

  3. March 20, 2012 12:39 pm

    Freedom Rock! Love it. I had a lot of those albums on 8 track. Cassette? Pfffft, that’ll never catch on…

    • March 20, 2012 1:25 pm

      What are 8-tracks? Are those the clunky things I used to see rolling around in my friend’s mom’s nature-painted van, those wonky things that looked like Atari games? You had those? Get outta town!

  4. March 20, 2012 1:15 pm

    Love it! Now I know how to get those dang darn birds to come over- wear stripes! My kids are always wanting to do those feeding things at the zoo and not nary a bird flies over to them.

    • March 20, 2012 1:26 pm

      Yes! Bright colors (preferably as stripes) seem to say to birds, “I’m your mother. Come suckle me.”

  5. March 20, 2012 3:21 pm

    SOOO looking forward to your post on BMG and Columbia House! My husband and I were just talking about these the other day and how at the age of 13 the only thing more exciting than getting asked to a boy/girl party was the day when your 25 CDs for a penny arrived.

    • March 21, 2012 9:09 pm

      Oh, crap. The BMG thing seems to have resonated with a lot of people. The “oh, crap” part is me realizing I really am going to have to write that post and I really am going to have to open up on that painful chapter of my life in a cult. You obviously got out while the getting was still good.

  6. March 20, 2012 5:27 pm

    See… here I thought you were going to say that the guy in the picture with you was the same guy from the Freedom Rock commercial. Man, did I ever get that wrong, eh?

    TBS Superstation?! Did you grow up in GA? I didn’t know you could get that station outside of GA.

    My parents always told me “no” when it came to BMG and Columbia, and I felt so deprived. I mean, the even sent you a penny! How cool was that?! “Look Mom! They already paid for it by sending me a penny!” Man, my parents were MEAN.

    P.S. I loved the music from Freedom Rock. That’s one hip compilation by the original artists.

    • March 21, 2012 9:20 pm

      Hmmm….I think TBS came to a lot of areas of the Midwest. It was hard to miss that it was beamed out of Georgia, what with all the Braves games and all. Do you remember how the shows on TBS were always five minutes after the hour/half-hour? So Brady Bunch started at 3:05. Followed by Gomer Pyle at 3:35.

      Your parents saved you from a life of debt.

      P.S. You have no idea how badass The Original Artists are when they’re covering Jimi Hendrix on their Casio SK-1 keyboards.

  7. March 20, 2012 6:21 pm

    Oh my god. Are you telling me all these beautiful compilations are just covers by Original Artists? That is some devious non-freedom rock, let me tell you. That’s like Soviet Union Rock.

    I think what disturbs me the most is the minute I started playing the Freedom Rock commercial, I knew which song was coming next, but yet I can’t remember anything from American history except Jesus helped George Washington write the constitution.

    Did I mention I’m glad you’re back? I’m glad you’re back.

    • March 21, 2012 9:28 pm

      You want to talk Soviet Union Rock, you have no idea how badass The Original Artists are when they’re covering Back in the USSR on their Casio SK-1 keyboards.

      Um, this is embarrassing. I don’t think Jesus had time to write the Constitution while he was off multiplying bread and fish to feed the dinosaurs.

  8. March 20, 2012 8:14 pm

    I remembering getting 10 records for a penny way back when. They were collectively the worst music of the decade. Except for the stuff I had to buy for the next two years. I didn’t think it could get worse, but… surprise…!

    • March 21, 2012 9:21 pm

      If you didn’t think it could get worse, you must not have received Sounds of 1978. That album was not even worth one-tenth of the penny you would’ve paid for it.

  9. March 20, 2012 8:18 pm

    I never felt truly old until one night when I was channel surfing and came upon an infomercial of many of the same songs. I had grown up with these compilations, and they were always AWFUL. Not this one though. It had every song I’ve ever loved on it. My husband hid the credit cards.

    Here is sentimental journey,

    Welcome back. I’m glad your hair and eyes seem to be intact!

    • March 21, 2012 9:34 pm

      For the record, I wouldn’t have hid your credit cards. I would’ve helped you find them. But then again, I own BPA-coated plastic cups that enable you to poach eggs in the microwave, thanks to one very persuasive late night infomercial.

      Thanks for the sentimental journey about the Sentimental Journey.

  10. March 20, 2012 11:25 pm

    Where did you go in OK? I used to live in Lawton. Party central it isn’t. We had to drive to Texas to get to the nearest Target.

    • March 21, 2012 9:39 pm

      An Englishman in Oklahoma. Yeah, that sounds about right. I’m sure you helped class up the joint.

      We only passed through Oklahoma but spent a bit of time in Oklahoma City (i.e. the crazy bird rave). Most of the time we were in Texas. Are you back to Your People now? Can my family move in? We have a 10-year plan that we’ll move to the UK once Ricky Gervais starts taking my calls.

      • March 21, 2012 9:43 pm

        Sorry, no, I live in Louisville, KY…

      • March 22, 2012 1:36 pm

        Well, I guess we’ll have to crash on someone else’s couch for two months then. Tough break for you.

  11. March 21, 2012 7:14 am

    Aw! The pic of you and your brother is sweet! (he’s very cute, don’t tell him I said that) Oh, and you’re ridiculously cute, too. The birds really make the outfit, gives it that extra zip. I would have started screaming and hyperventilating and there would be feathers everywhere, much like the movie, but that’s just me.

    I am relieved to see you survived your trip. Many a road trip I’ve found myself cleaning up pee from one or both of my kids in the Pizza Hut bathroom. Those are the moments that truly makes you appreciate being home.

    Please write about the BMG 500 CDs for a penny cult. I am still getting them in the mail to this day. I use them as coasters.

    • March 22, 2012 1:44 pm

      He is cute. (Although this photo doesn’t do him justice.) He looks like a cross between Jon Stewart and Steven Weber during his time on Wings. By the way, after discussing this topic, 1989-Angie just threw up in her mouth (and then swallowed it again because it still tasted like Cool Ranch Doritos).

      Pizza Hut should be called Pissed-on Hut. I’ll put that in their suggestion box next time we swing through.

      I love the coaster tip. Love it! Reading this, I feel like I just now sat through an episode of Martha Stewart, minus the farm fresh eggs and raspberry scones.

      • March 22, 2012 2:44 pm

        Steven Weber! Oh, loved Wings. Yeah, and about the throwing up in your mouth thing…I had one brother that looked like Rick Springfield so I endured the countless “you’re brother is sooooo cute!” remarks for years. I get you. And I’m sorry.

      • March 23, 2012 8:36 pm

        Hey, um, Darla. This might seem rather forward to ask. Could you maybe invite me over to your family’s house for a slumber party when your brother is back in town? You know, I just mean, it’d be really fun to hang out and watch Grease and do each other’s hair or something.

  12. March 21, 2012 8:53 am

    …Gonna set my heart at ease. Gonna make a sentimental journey…yeah I’m old enough to know the song. I probably have the compilation ALBUM. I still have about 12 inches of 33 1/3 LPs. I know because I just unpacked them and put them in my new bookcases.

    I love it, played by “The Original Artists!”

    I’ve got thousands of CDs because of the BMG Music Cult. I figured out how to keep getting free CDs under another identity and never pay the bill. As I recall the shipping and handling on the free CDs was like thirty-five bucks.

    • March 22, 2012 1:48 pm

      Yes! Thanks, O. Leonard, for reminding me about the BMG Cult alias strategy! I, along with many people I knew, did the same. It was the best way to work the system to your advantage. And then they eventually find you, stick you with the bill, threaten you if you leave and ask you to stop talking to your family (especially the ones you used as aliases). It’s pretty much a burning mess from there.

      I should’ve stuck with ordering the hits by The Original Artists.

  13. March 21, 2012 10:46 am

    You are a brave woman for entering that aviary. I went into a butterfly enclosure in Mexico and freaked out. The butterflies were everywhere, which I guess was whole point of the thing, but they were getting too close to me for comfort. They were flitting near my face and hair and I walked through the whole exhibit with my hands and arms over my head – kind of like being in crash position only I was walking at the same time. I think my husband and friends enjoyed me more than the butterflies.

    • March 22, 2012 1:51 pm

      Ha! Paprika, you must put this full story into a blog post. But only if you have accompanying photos. I’ve learned from this post that you cannot discuss “When Animals Attack” without accompanying photos. It just doesn’t do it justice.

      I swear it — they were on my head!

      • March 22, 2012 2:38 pm

        I never thought to put this in a whole blog post, but now that you have planted the seed… Mercifully, I do not have pictures of myself being terrorized by butterflies. I hope that won’t detract from the story.

      • March 23, 2012 8:34 pm

        Yes! Do it!

  14. March 21, 2012 11:05 am

    I LOVE that Freedom Rock commercial, because that’s all the music from my teen years which, as everyone knows, is always the best music ever. I’ve sat down and watched the 1/2 hour infomercials and I did buy one of those Original Artists CD compilations. As you describe, they were all bad redos by some lounge band. That kind of bait and switch is just wrong.

    Cute pictures, Tippi!

    • March 22, 2012 1:54 pm

      Really? It happened to you too? I thought that was just a one-time fly-by-night junky TV deal that only happened to one person that my brother once knew who probably lived in a Third World country anyway. You’re telling me this Original Artist thing could happen to any one of us? Egad.

  15. March 21, 2012 3:34 pm

    Too funny about the music infomercials – I remember those too! And oh my gosh, yes, BMG Music Club – I joined with my first paycheck when I was 13 to start my music library and they just don’t stop… Love the photos of the birds, your commentary had me gasping for breath, thanks!

    • March 22, 2012 1:58 pm

      Yes, they just don’t stop! You are right about that. BMG Music Cult is like some kind of horrible dream that I had in college. Just like the horrible dream I had when I realized there was a final exam in a class that I hadn’t attended for the entire semester. Except that dream was as real as the BMG Music Cult dream.

  16. March 21, 2012 11:31 pm

    Confession. Whenever Time Life Music infomercials show on t.v., I watch each one, go online and sample each song on each cd, and then contemplate on whether to spend hundreds of dollars to buy them….I love listening to “ancient oldies”…

    On your comment: “…My parents were squares so I didn’t know much outside of The Beach Boys.”–The Beach Boys are awesome! Did you happen to catch the BB Tribute on this past Grammy’s?

    Anyways, love your son’s Pee Story. Reminds me of my own incident in which my then newborn son peed all over the changing table, floor, his clothes, my arms, and oh yeah–my face!

    Happy Thursday! :)

    • March 22, 2012 2:10 pm

      Yes, you’re right that The Beach Boys are awesome. God Only Knows is up there in my favorite oldies of all time (and I dig oldies). But when I was filled with teenage angst, I held it against my farm-raised parents that they had never tripped on LSD to the tunes of Jefferson Airplane like the cool hippie parents I knew. Little did I know that those good vibrations of The Beach Boys were as much spawned by drugs as the entire Woodstock line-up.

      Yes, the joy of having a boy. I often defer to the words of Elaine Benes: “I don’t know how you guys walk around with those things.”

  17. March 22, 2012 7:41 am

    Always the source for so much of my childhood that I have conveniently forgotten. Love the bird pics. I would have flipped. Better you than me!

    • March 22, 2012 2:15 pm

      That’s what I’m good for, MM. Memory dumpster-diving. You push them back into the furthest recesses of your brain, and then I dig ’em up for you and say, “Hey, look what I found in your dumpster! Did you really think didn’t need this anymore?”

  18. March 22, 2012 1:25 pm

    First of all, The Original Artists is as bad a name as Free Beer or Bare Naked Ladies, i.e. false advertising. Second, I’ve never seen such a cute girl in a Freddy Krueger sweater. And lastly, if that’s the brother that looks like me, you need new contact lenses because he is way handsomerererer.

    • March 22, 2012 2:22 pm

      Aw, I’m blushing, Les. Blushing because I just realized I am in a Freddy Krueger sweater (egad, what was I thinking). It didn’t seem to bother the birds though.

      No, not my brother — you look like a friend of my husband’s. He was a groomsman in our wedding. Someday if you’re in Denver, maybe you’ll run into this guy and you two can immediately perform one of those Patty and Kathy Lane miming mirror-image bits. That would be awesome. I would pay money to see that. Like maybe staged in a shopping mall lobby or something.

  19. beck16 permalink
    March 28, 2012 12:56 pm

    hahah! “turn it up man!”, is pretty much all i remember from the freedom rock album commercial

    this is a great post! takes me back :)

    • March 29, 2012 2:21 pm

      You got it, Beck! That’s the most important part to remember.


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