Saturday, January 14, 2012

In Praise of REO Speedwagon

Driving the Girls to school the other morning listening to the usual nonsense chatter in the back seat, Coco - "Daddy, what do you think would happen if you had a bouncy ball as big as the whole world?" when Roll With the Changes - came on.  I was listening to THE RIVER (that's how I imagine they think of themself; all caps, bold, italicized AND underlined) because typically they are not using the 7:30 time to take a break and tell me traffic that doesn't effect me or weather that will most likely be wrong.

Anyway, the song came on and I was internally rocking out to it, plucking the steering wheel with my imaginary pick for the solos, etc.  I totally got caught up in the song.

I thought to myself, man, REO Speedwagon really rocked.   I have thought this before. Some coworkers and I were discussing it actually after lunch one day.  Three of the four of us are all relatively the same age, so we all had the same radio experience growing up. 

I can't remember how it got started, but as we watched our 5th graders run around and play one of us started singing Take It On the Run. That wasn't unusual, because one of us was usually breaking out into song at any point.  (that seemed much less girly when I thought it in my head).  Some of the kids heard us and came up to listen.  We got all into it and started singing all their 80s hits.

Our 5th graders were used to us doing this, but three of us doing it together was a special draw.  We were so excited about REO Speedwagon, and how awesome they were that we issued the challenge of any kid that brought us their parents' REO Speedwagon CD would be exempt from homework the rest of the week. THE REST OF THE WEEK. It wasn't even Thursday or anything.

I knew their parents had at least their Greatest Hits CD.  These people were 10-15 years older than me.  They were totally the older kids at the skating rink that were couple skating or making out in the dark corners to I Can't Fight This Feeling Anymore -

Sadly, not one of our 96 kids took us up on that offer.  That, or their parents are much cooler than we were giving them credit for.

I've veered off in the direction of REO Cheesewagon at this point, but it all comes back to the same thing, REO was a great band that put out some really good, albeit cheesy, radio hits.

I don't really know how they transformed from a really rocking band, i.e Riding the Storm Out - or Time for Me to Fly - into the cheese factory of Feeling or Keep On Loving You -, but that's not unusual for a band to do. Look at The Goo Goo Dolls.  They were a great rocking band.  They have some really great stuff that kicks butt, but at some point John Rzeznik brought one of his ballads to the band, they recorded it and the Record Company Honchos decided, Ah ha!  A FORMULA! From that point on the only songs you ever heard on the radio from The Goo Goo Dolls were their ballads.

And that's okay.  They're good, sometimes great songs, but they still used to be a rocking band, and probably still are in concert, because you can't just play slow acoustic numbers live.

So, REO Speedwagon to The Goo Goo Dolls.  I don't know if the kids and teenagers that were growing up to Iris and Black Balloon were couple skating or making out the same way their older counter parts were to REO, but it's possible.

All this to say, when REO comes on the radio, resist that urge to automatically change it to something more hip; although truthfully, you're not going to find any hip music on the FM stations (I've covered that already).  Take a minute and let it soak in.  Let it take you back to where you were when it was released. If you're like me it will be to a simpler, carefree time.  That's some good stuff right there.  At least for 5:37.