Updated: I Sit At My Table and Sail Away By Myself

October 17th, 2007  |  Published in etc  |  2 Comments

Pop Songs 07 is a blog in which the author promises to “write about every R.E.M. song, eventually.”

I am all for that.

All those 2-3 graf entries weren’t written by someone who was part of the anticipated audience:

“Around the time I was eight or nine, I went through a phase of being realllllllly into radio countdown shows, most especially American Top 40 with Casey Kasem. I distinctly remember sitting on the fuzzy green stairs just outside my bedroom one Sunday morning and listening to Kasem cheerfully introduce the band and the single, [“The One I Love” -mph] which was only a modest hit at the time, maybe somewhere in the mid-30s. I liked it well enough, but I don’t think it left that much of an impression on me — I didn’t buy a copy of Green until at least two years later, though it was my first R.E.M. record.”

So I can play the unendingly fun game “At what point in another band’s career would this REM album have fallen?” with the added axis of “if I were nine years old at the time.”

You know what band was seven years old in 1977, and released its seventh album that year?

Styx, with its anti-consumerist tour de force “The Grand Illusion!”


Now I have to imagine nine-year-old me hearing Styx for the first time, but waiting until, I dunno … 1978’s “Pieces of Eight” or 1979’s “Cornerstone” to buy an album. Which is not hard to imagine, actually, because I got a new cassette player and a Columbia House membership to go with it between the release of “Pieces of Eight” and “Cornerstone,” and both “The Grand Illusion” and “Pieces of Eight” were in my 13 free tapes.

“Pieces of Eight” was, of course, a much more hard-nosed album: “Blue Collar Man,” “Renegade,” “Queen of Spades” and “Great White Hope.” But the band didn’t totally put aside its dippy admiration of Tull: There’s also “Lords of the Ring.”

*All hail to the Lords of the Ring

To the magic and mystery they bring

To the music in their story

All hail to the Lords of the Ring

To the magic and mystery it brings

May we someday wear its glory*

*And now the message is clear

For I became a Lord this year

And though the legend was pure fantasy

We still need the hope it brings, so let’s sing …*

Note: Oops … I screwed up for reasons that’ll be apparent to anyone pausing for a moment to consider REM’s discography. So … sixth album in 1977, not seventh. That’d be ABBA with “ABBA – The Album,” the big single from which was “Take A Chance On Me.” I did not own any ABBA. I have no problem with that.

Methodology Note: Figuring out the xth album in 19xx is super easy. Just Google something like “sixth album in 1977” and all sorts of stuff manifests. It might seem like a slog, but I got Styx and Abba within the first ten results. And passed on luminaries like Foghat and Lynyrd Skynyrd. And goddamn! Queen’s “News of the World” was their sixth album and it was released in 1977!

Now … that’s the cheap way because if you toss in the “sixth album arriving after seven years of being a band” requirement it gets dicey. So “sixth album the year you were nine” will work fine.

Should I make this into a game?


  1. pk says:

    October 17th, 2007 at 7:52 pm (#)

    Is that Chuck Panozzo on the right, or James Taylor? Because it totally looks like heroin-era Baby James.

    I can’t imagine being anything but non-plussed by “The One I Love” at age 9. I was still passively listening to my mom’s Willie Nelson in 1975-’76, probably (I really couldn’t tell you), but when I started listening to pop and rock a year or two later, I was all about the shiny candy: “I Want You to Want Me,” “One Way or Another,” “Roxanne”–and plenty of high-struttin’ disco! I did like “Sultans of Swing,” though–I thought that one was deep. I remember when “Miss You” came out, and I thought, “Oh, the Rolling Stones–they’re old.” Psh–not as old as they are now, dude!

    I would like to play your “band on their 7th album when I was 9” game, but I can’t face the research, or the beckoning maw of aging-out depression.

  2. k. says:

    October 28th, 2007 at 5:55 pm (#)

    Here goes:

    sixth albums of 1982:

    Blondie’s “The Hunter” Springsteen’s “Nebraska” (which is an album I LOVE, but likely would not have loved in 1982 had I heard it). John Cougar’s “American Fool”

    Also in 1982, Sonic Youth and REM released debut albums, a factoid that, strangely, does not make me feel old. I’m pretty sure I must have been nine or ten when I first heard Prince’s 1999 (his 5th album released in Oct. of 1982). The teenage daughter of my parents’ friends brought the album with her when they visited us for a week. She let me listen to it, probably so I would stop bugging her. Every time I hear the VU song “rock and roll,” I think of the kid version of me hooked up to my parents stereo via enormous ear phones and the earth shattering, life changing, aural experience that was Darling Nikki.

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