Radio Daze, Vol. Fifteen [HERC's M!X]

The End?

This is it, the end of the line.  HERC hopes y'all enjoyed the ride as much as he did.  Part of the thrill each week was working with the soft rock kid, who graciously consented to an interview this past week.  Here is that conversation...

Since we began running the continuation of the Radio Daze series in October, you've gotten more than a couple pieces of anonymous fan mail here at The Hideaway. They all wanted to know more about "the soft rock kid" so tell us a bit about yourself.
Fan mail? That's certainly humbling. Well, I'm a preacher's kid from west Texas. Graduated high school in May 1984, then headed to college to study music education. I've taught English and music in the public schools of Texas. Currently a professor of education at a state university. Married 24 years, 2 sons. I was originally a trumpet player, but now I'm a frustrated piano player who performs with a church praise band. If (they) want more, they should head over to The CD Project and read the memoir part at the end of each of post.
Are you listening to any music at this very moment?
Listening to Barry Manilow.
Was soft rock the first music you gravitated towards? What was its appeal?
I have to thank an anonymous program director for that. When I was growing up in Odessa, there weren't many pop radio stations, so all the kids my age listened to KRIG 1410AM. I liked whatever they told me to like - what did I know?

Was radio your primary means of listening to music growing up? Was there music in the house?

Not a lot of music from my parents, although my mother liked Glen Campbell and I remember listening to his 1969 Live album often. Lots of good Jimmy Webb stuff on that one. I guess that's my earliest listening memory.
Who had the earliest and/or strongest influence on your musical tastes?
I have an older sister and because she was older than me, that meant she got to choose what I watched on TV and listened to. She preferred John Denver, Carpenters, Captain & Tennille, and The Osmonds. There's a lot of soft rock there. I specifically remember her having the "You Light Up My Life" 45 single and the 8 track of the Frank Mills' Music Box Dancer album. Other influences were radio and TV. Back then, a lot of soft rock folks had variety shows. And I became a Fanilow when I sang "Mandy" at a school talent show when I was 10 or 11. It was probably the definitive interpretation of the song, but it wasn't recorded so we'll never know for sure.

Did you buy your first record or receive it as a gift? Do you still have it?

I purchased my first 45, "Theme from SWAT" by Rhythm Heritage at the record store in the Odessa mall. Both the 45 and the mall are long gone, I'm afraid.
Were you a 45 and LP buyer or did you pickup the occasional 8-track?
I didn't have an 8 track player, so it was 45 and LPs until about 1978. Then I started with the cassettes, too.
What was your first soft rock record?
Even Now by Barry Manilow

When you signed up for your Columbia House membership did you list your preferred music as "soft rock"?

Oh wow. I have no idea. I can still remember a lot about my first go round with Columbia House. Was it 11 for a penny? I remember getting the following albums in that 11: Toto IV, Jean Luc Ponty's Mystical Adventures, Pat Metheny's Offramp, Kim Wilde s/t, Steely Dan's Aja. So there's some soft rock in there.  And some jazz.  By 1982-3, I was reconfiguring myself into some sort of New Wave/Jazz hipster hybrid.  I really became a music snob. So if my classmates were going wild about Journey or REO Speedwagon, I wouldn't listen to them just to be contrarian.
You're still kind of a contrarian and music snob today.
Oh, no doubt. I think you can take the "kind of" out of that sentence.
You're stranded on "Soft Rock Island" which is strangely near "Thunder Island". You're allowed three albums and one 10 track mix CD. What do you bring?
Today, I'll go with The Nightfly, Jarreau, and the surprise entry, Come Away With Me. As far as the ten tracks: "Living Inside Myself" - Gino Vanelli, "If You Leave Me Now" - Chicago. Damn this is tough. "Time Out of Mind" - Steely Dan, "Just The Two of Us" - Grover Washington, "Always and Forever" - Heatwave, something by Ambrosia - "Biggest Part of Me", "Sweet Love" - Anita Baker, "Maybe I'm Amazed" - Paul (McCartney & WIngs), "Don't Know Why" - Norah Jones and "Steppin' Out" - Joe Jackson.
Who are your favorite soft rock artists?
From soft rock’s heyday (late ‘60s to early ‘80s): Manilow, Paul McCartney, Al Jarreau, and Chicago. Since that time: Anita Baker, Seal, Norah Jones, and early ‘90s Everything But The Girl (pre-electronica).
Do you listen to today's soft rock? Do you like any of what you hear?
There's soft rock today?  I’m kidding, of course.  There’s some good stuff out there by people like Bruno Mars, Jason Mraz, John Mayer, etc.  Plus good west coast sounds from Monkey House, State Cows, JaR, etc. My problem is that new soft rock is hard to find these days on the radio.  Even the AC stations play more oldies than new stuff, but it’s out there if you hunt.  That’s one of the nice things about blogs like yours, Herc – they hip people to new stuff they won’t find on the radio. 
Founders Herb Alpert, Burt Bacharach and Clive Davis have called you in to consult on the Soft Rock Hall Of Fame. Who should the initial inductees be? Who would you vote against if they were nominated?
We'll play like the Rock Hall and 5 get in each year so we'll start with 5? Michael McDonald, Elton John, Carole King, Barry Manilow, and Paul McCartney.
On your CD Project site, you break down the discs reviewed by genre but do not list soft rock. Can you give us a ballpark figure or percentage of how much of your CD collection is soft rock?
I'd guess around 15% soft rock more if you include instrumental pop. Is all west coast music considered soft rock? I say yes.

Are you still into vinyl? Still have a workable turntable? Still buying vinyl albums, used or new?

I just ordered a new turntable this morning so my regression to 1982 is complete. My vinyl is limited to the few LPs that I've saved over the years and those I've added if vinyl is the only way to get them. For example, I had Genesis' Three Sides Live back in high school. Well, the CD/digital version doesn't include the studio side 4. wtf? So I gotta have the vinyl for that. But I'm not a vinyl purist. If I've got a CD copy, I won't be getting a vinyl copy. I spent 25 years going the other direction.
You currently produce two blogs in addition to guest posting here at The Hideaway. What can we expect from the soft rock kid in 2014? Is there an end in sight for The CD Project?
The CD Project will never end, just slow down. I ordered 3 new CDs just today.
Now that we've made it to the end of the line, what were your Top 3-5 volumes of the continuation of the Radio Daze series?
You ask for 3 or 5, so I’ll give you my top 4: in order: Vols. 10, 7, 12, 8

Off the top of your head, what songs would you have added to the mix?

Off the top of my head (I don’t know if these fit in the time span and I haven’t checked the AC charts): "True" by Spandau Ballet, "Avalon" by Roxy Music, "More Love" by Kim Carnes, "My Girl" by Chilliwack, "Valotte" by Julian Lennon, "Time Will Reveal" by DeBarge, "Lady" by Kenny Rogers, "Alibis" by Sergio Mendes, "Missing You" by John Waite, "After All" by Al Jarreau, "She’s Got A Way" by Billy Joel, "Is It You" by Lee Ritenour, "Time Out Of Mind" by Steely Dan, "If You Were Here" by Thompson Twins, "Arc of a Diver" by Steve Winwood, "Hello" by Lionel Richie, "Everything She Wants" by Wham, "I Do Love You" by GQ, "Reminiscing" by Little River Band, "Special Lady" by Ray Goodman and Brown.
Lastly, in the Rhino tradition of making a sampler and including a song from each album, what would your sampler be?
Ladies and gentlemen, the one and only soft rock kid. Here's his rundown of Vol. 15 of Radio Daze with songs from May through December 1985:
  • Getcha Back – The Beach Boys, released May 1985, Pop #26, AC #2. Sounds like the Beach Boys remixed their own "Don’t Worry Baby" with Springsteen’s "Hungry Heart". And amazingly it works, mainly because of Brian Wilson’s backing vocals.  A wonderful flashback.
  • Not Enough Love In The World – Don Henley, released June 1985, Pop #34, AC #6, Rock #17.  This song never did much for me even though it has a sweet Hammond organ part.  Rumor has it Henley wrote this song about his relationship with Stevie Nicks. 
  • Your Love Is King – Sade, released June 1985, Pop #54, AC #8. I have no idea why I didn’t like Sade when they first hit the airwaves.  I didn’t have much time for this one back in 1985, but I’ve since seen the error of my ways and become a Sade fan.  Subtle horns over a laid-back shuffle plus smooth vocals = soft rock goodness.
  • Your Secret’s Safe With Me – Michael Franks, released August 1985, AC #4.  One of the few Franks tracks that I dig.  This didn’t hit the pop charts; I’m guessing Franks’ unusual voice is an acquired taste.  Still, this is an above-average soft rock song, complete with cheesy background vocals and lots of electric piano.
  • A Little Bit of Heaven – Natalie Cole, released August 1985, Pop #81, AC #11, R&B #28.  I don’t remember hearing this one before now.  A pseudo-reggae feel makes an otherwise unremarkable song enjoyable, but nothing I’d seek out.
  • Cry – Godley & Creme, released August 1985, Pop #16, AC #5.  More famous for its video, this song is a winner; like nothing else on the radio at the time.  Give most of the credit to producer Trevor Horn, who likes to mess around in a recording studio as much as Godley and Creme.
  • You Are My Lady – Freddie Jackson, released August 1985, Pop #12, AC #3, R&B #1. Passionate vocals over a nice Fender Rhodes piano line, almost completely ruined by a synth drum part.  However, the chorus is catchy enough to make me ignore that dated sound.  (The question “Can soft rock’s sonic palette include a LinnDrum?” is a discussion for another place and time.  My initial answer is no.)
  • Fortress Around Your Heart – Sting, released October 1985, Pop #8, AC #32.  My favorite track from Sting’s first solo album.  There’s really not much to this song, but that album’s fantastic backing band makes it memorable.  Best song on this playlist.
  • The Long and Winding Road – Billy Ocean, released November 1985, AC #24. Uncalled for.
  • I’ll Be There – Kenny Loggins, released November 1985, Pop #88, AC #33.  By this time, Loggins had completely morphed into “soundtrack guy” and as a result, songs like this slipped through the cracks.  Not his best, but not a bad way to spend a few minutes.
  • I Miss You  – Klymaxx, released November 1985, Pop #5, AC #3, R&B #11.  A simple but memorable melody over a rudimentary accompaniment.  I can almost forgive the horrible band name, but I can’t get past the horrible singing on this one.  But judging by the charts, many people weren’t bother by the vocals.
  • You’re a Friend of Mine – Clarence Clemons and Jackson Browne, released December 1985, Pop #18, AC #21, Rock #16.  Clemons doesn’t have a great voice, either, but he gives this Motown derivation a valiant effort.  Even with a decent sax solo, I usually changed the radio station when this song came on.  Daryl Hannah on backing vocals?  What we do for love.

The End?


  1. Herc and Mark, well done. Thank you for an entertaining series of posts and expanding upon a Rhino line I personally wanted to see go beyond the initial five releases.

  2. Thanks, Martin. It's been a fun ride and I've been reacquainted with a lot of good tunes I had forgotten. I don't think you've heard the last of Radio Daze...