Music Throwback Saturday: I Need You

I Need You is a VERY popular song title.

Ellen McKinnon, Lin Brehmer – Q104, Albany, NY in the 1980s
Back in the day when I listened to the rock station WQBK-FM in Albany in the late ’70s and early ’80s, the morning disc jockey, Ellen McKinnon, invited listeners to come up with four songs they thought would go together well, and she would play them as a “Q 104-play.”

The one submission I made was extraordinarily lazy; I picked four songs with the title I Need You.

The first was a George Harrison song (1965) from the Beatles’ Help! movie and album in both the US and the UK, only the second Harrison song to be recorded by the group that was in the canon, after Don’t Bother Me.

The second was a hit for the band America, a group formed in London and comprised of sons of US military personnel. From the debut eponymous album, it went to #9 in the US in 1972.

The fourth was a single by the singer Paul Carrack, who is one of my favorite vocalists ever. I even have this song on a 45 somewhere. It went only to #37 in 1982, and I must have submitted my list shortly after this, because the station started changing formats in the next couple years.

The third one I’m not sure of. Was it by The Who from the album A Quick One? Unlikely, since I never owned it. Or the Kinks? Nah, doesn’t sound right in the mix. It was probably Joan Armatrading, the last track on her Me Myself I album, one of my favorites from 1980

As it turns out, I Need You is a VERY popular song title, as you can see here. And I did not know this: “The progressive rock supergroup Transatlantic recorded a mix of two songs [Beatles, America] on their 2009 album The Whirlwind. The first part (America’s cover) is sung by Neal Morse while the Beatles’s part features vocals by the band’s drummer Mike Portnoy.

Listen to I Need You, all different songs, except the Transatlantic cover:

Tom Petty at a George Harrison tribute
The Who
The Kinks
Joan Armatrading
Paul Carrack (live)

Never heard of that band – oh, THEM!

Lonely People was used as the sign off song for a Washington, DC TV station for a time in the late 1970s or early 1980s, back when TV stations actually signed off.

I was reminded that back in the early 1970s, the student government at the State University College of New York at New Paltz put on a bunch of concerts, many of which I attended. But I remember reading about one in the Fall of 1971 by some group I had never heard of. The show cost only 50 cents, but I passed.

That group was America, whose A Horse With No Name went to #1 the very next year. In penance, I bought that first album and played it regularly. They’d later have hits such as Ventura Highway, Tin Man, and Lonely People, which I wrote about here.

In 1995, my girlfriend at the time, Carol – now my wife – and I were meeting my old (as in since kindergarten ) friend Karen and this guy from a local (Albany area) radio station named Johnny. As it turned out, Carol and Johnny were acquainted because they’d lived in the same area. After dinner, Karen and the radio guy invited Carol and me to see this musical act which I had never heard of. I might have gone, but Carol was tired so we opted out.

The artist turned out to be Moby, a descendant of Herman Melville, BTW, who had a massively successful album at the end of the decade called Play. What put me in mind about this story was Pantheon Songs’ tribute to a Moby tune that had come out a few years before that dinner, but I had not heard at the time.

Music Throwback Saturday: Lonely People

“It was the channel five sign-off, featuring NASA Apollo Eleven astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin bouncing about on the moon.”

lonelypeopleWhile I was in Charlotte, NC in early 1977, I was unemployed. I worked at the parents’ flea market several hours a week, but nothing else.

Charlotte was a TERRIBLE city to get around then if you didn’t have a car. It was what my father called a “big old country town”, growing by leaps and bounds. North Carolina law allowed a core city to annex any adjacent unincorporated territory, as long as the city provided fire, police, and water service. So parts of the city proper were virtually rural.

The bus system, such as it was, sucked, to use a word my wife hates. Everything went through the main intersection of Trade and Tryon. It was like going from Paris, France to Brussels, Belgium via London, England.

I watched television, a lot. The TV miniseries Roots was on, and I watched it all except for a half-hour we missed getting home from the flea market.

Back in those days, TV stations actually signed off the air at midnight or one a.m. They usually played the national anthem, often and overplayed one in which tape sounded distorted.

But on the cable in Charlotte, I could pick up WTTG, Metro Media channel 5, out of Washington, DC. The outro was a music video produced by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and “made available in 1972 to any television station who wanted it.”

Someone on Reddit wrote: “As a boy growing up in Washington D.C. I would purposefully stay awake for the sign-off on which occurred at midnight every night. If I stayed up late I could escape hopelessness late at night by watching what was for me a lullaby of hope and peace possible.

“It was the channel five sign-off, featuring NASA Apollo Eleven astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin bouncing about on the moon. And the song Lonely People by the band America playing during the film clips. This showed me a reality on the other side of hopelessness and so reminded me there is hope for me, and perhaps for everyone.”

Actually, it made me a bit melancholy: I was one of the Lonely People, who thought that life had passed me by. But I enjoyed the alternative to the Star-Spangled Banner.

WATCH/LISTEN to Lonely People – America

But it’s actually the version with the voice-over tag (also on the Reddit version) that I recall.

Incidentally, the piano “solo” is played together by America’s Gerry Beckley, and the song’s producer, the legendary, late George Martin.

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