A couple of weeks back, I wrote that albums (8-tracks, actually) by Average White Band and Earth, Wind and Fire helped me get through college where the only two local radio stations played American country and Mexican country.
I apparently struck a chord (there's no way around that phrase), because I got a bunch of unsolicited e-mails from people telling me about the albums that got them through school.
One was from a former ballplayer of mine who says she is currently getting through college on a CD I gave her, James Morrison's Undiscovered. She particularly likes the song "One Last Chance," which has as its chorus:
I've got one last chance to get myself together,
I can't lose no more time,
It's now or never.
I try to remember who I used to be ...
Pretty grim lyrics for a college junior, especially one who will be studying at Oxford in the fall. But, different strokes. (Oh, and that's Oxford, the university in England, not the city that's around the University of Mississippi; the latter wouldn't be all that special.)
Most of the albums mentioned seemed pretty reasonable, but there were exceptions. Two different men told me that they got through college listening to Carole King's Tapestry. I didn't even know they let guys go to Mount Holyoke.
I started wondering what albums local celebrities might have clung to in that formative period in their lives. When I thought of University of Arizona football coach Mike Stoops, I initially assumed that it had to be something by Rage Against the Machine, especially if "the Machine" was wearing stripes. But I checked the chronology, and it didn't work. His college years pre-date the band, which means they probably named themselves after him.
My friend Brad is one of the winningest high school basketball coaches in Arizona, and besides his teaching and coaching responsibilities, he also finds time to play in a band that hits all the hot spots in Graham County and points east (which would be Greenlee County). He likes Steve Earle and brooding stuff like that, so I thought his answer would be especially profound.
But he hemmed and hawed and then said that he'd have to think about it. I suddenly realized that he was in college in the late 1980s, right around the time that the New Kids on the Block were at the peak of their popularity. I mentioned Joey McIntyre just to see if it would elicit a discernible facial tic from Brad. He says he's still thinking it over. I keep bugging him for an answer, but so far, he's hangin' tough.
I checked with Allen "Big Al" Kath, who does the traffic on KGUN Channel 9. I'm pretty sure he's related to the late Terry Kath, who played the guitar and sang on "25 or 6 to 4" by Chicago. I was hoping he'd say one of the early Chicago albums. It's funny; Chicago is one of the top-selling American bands ever, but everybody hates on them. It's true that their sappy ballad period was gruesome, but their early jazzy big band-influenced stuff was special.
Alas, Allen says Olé ELO by ELO (Electric Light Orchestra). Allen's one of the few people who actually knew who Jeff Lynne was before The Traveling Wilburys.
Speaking of the Wilburys, Lorraine Rivera, who does the early-morning news on KVOA Channel 4, says she got through college listening to Roy Orbison's Greatest Hits. She's still in her 20s, so, apparently, she went to school at Time Warp University.
I wanted to hit three news outlets, so I tried to contact Heather Rowe from KOLD Channel 13. She never got back to me. She went to Arizona State, so I imagine her favorite album had the word "party" in it. But, judging by her appearance (which is always fair when dealing with TV- news people), she had to have been in a sorority, so it couldn't be "party" like Eddie Murphy's "Party All the Time," which was produced by Rick James and had a thick bass line. For sororities, it's "party" like "cotillion."
Arizona Daily Star sports columnist Greg Hansen listened to Simon and Garfunkel, The Beatles, and Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young. You have to understand that he was in Utah, so listening to Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young made Greg a firebrand radical.
Former UA basketball star Andre Igoudala preferred Outkast's Speakerboxx to The Love Below, although the latter contains Big Boi's homage to Earth, Wind and Fire, "(I Like) The Way You Move." EWF actually recorded that song on the Illuminations CD, accompanied by Kenny G. Yeah, Kenny G! And?!
Finally, I asked my editor, who went to Stanford—the most uptight, politically correct place on the face of the Earth—and he claims that he listened to Prince! At Stanford. I wonder if he ever listened to Prince's famous bootleg, The (African-American) Album.
In the school's extensive music library is a copy of NWA's first CD, featuring its famous anti-cop anthem "Engage in Non-Consensual Intercourse With Members of the Law-Enforcement Community."