Compilation Albums, Sentimental Journeys
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.