It was Sunday, October 25, 1992. My band Zen Pirates had been on tour for only two days, but it seemed like it had been two weeks. We had piled our gear into a rented van in Dallas on Friday morning, drove all day to Memphis, and played a show that night at a place called Poor Red’s Corner Cafe. Remember that scene in The Blues Brothers where Bob tells Jake and Elwood that they made $200 but drank $300 worth of beer? Yeah, that was us in Memphis. As we left the bar, a man who had earlier introduced himself to us as “The King Of The Delta Blues” was on stage singing Journey’s “Walks Like A Lady.” It seemed appropriate.
We hit the road at 2 AM for our next stop: Pittsburgh. One problem: we didn’t realize until that point that it was 771 miles to the Iron City from Memphis. We probably should have fired our booking agent at that point, but since he was also our drummer it complicated things a bit. I guess it really didn’t matter, as we didn’t have enough money to stay in a hotel anyways. We drove all night and all day, and finally arrived in Pittsburgh about 6 PM. We had just enough time to shower and head over to our gig at a club called The Electric Banana (don’t look for it– it’s not there anymore). Our sound man was out on work-release prison furlough. During sound check, I politely asked for more reverb in the monitors.
“I don’t like reverb.”
We played without reverb. A guy named Mike was blowing me kisses from the audience while we were playing. Apparently Mike was pretty famous in the Pittsburgh alternative music scene, and everyone said I should take his interest as a compliment. Mike also apparently knew Cindy Crawford personally, so that was pretty cool. After the show, all 12 people inside the Electric Banana helped us load our gear back into the van. I guess they liked us.
We finally had a chance to eat, and I had my first Primanti Brothers sandwich and washed it down with Rolling Rock. I don’t care if that sounds like a generic Pittsburgh experience– it was bliss. We got to sleep (in a hotel!!!) about 6 AM, and were back up about 9 for the long drive to Philadelphia for yet another gig that night. But before we left, I popped into a record store near the Pitt campus and stumbled upon the brand new Sundays album.
As we piled back into the van on that chilly Sunday morning, I claimed the very back seat all to myself. We jumped on I-76 for the long drive to Philly, and I put on my headphones and popped Blind into my Sony Discman. For the next five hours, I listened to Harriet’s angelic voice as we drove through the beautiful Pennsylvania countryside. No squabbling bandmates. No fourteenth listen to Simon’s Blind Melon CD. No worries about my upcoming bone marrow transplant. It was just me, the Sundays, the beautiful trees, and the last few ice-cold Rolling Rocks. It may have been the most relaxing five hours of my entire life. Now that, Jon Stewart, is a moment of zen…
The Sundays: “Love” (David Gavurin/Harriet Wheeler)
From the album Blind
Geffen Records, 1992
The first rule of The Analog Kid blog is that if you write about a song on the Analog Kid blog, you share the song on the Analog Kid blog.
Journey: “Walks Like A Lady” (Steve Perry)
From the album Departure
Columbia Records, 1980
The Blues Brothers: “Theme From Rawhide” (Ned Washington/Dimitri Tiomkin)
From the soundtrack The Blues Brothers
Atlantic Records, 1980