It: Rock N Roll

Or maybe the band is called Rock and Roll and the album is entitled It. I’m not sure.

In high school, I moved to Hot Springs, Arkansas. I had to drive to Little Rock, about 70 miles away, to play decent club soccer.

At the time, there were basically two radio options. Community radio didn’t extend past Benton until sometime in my junior year. The running joke about the megawatt option was that Jon Bonham hadn’t actually died, but had gone to Little Rock and taken over a radio station. They would do some crazy things, like when they put “Copperhead Road” in brutally heavy rotation when it first came out, but for the most part it was a steady diet of classic RAWK. Then again, maybe that wasn’t that crazy.

I figured I knew all the classic rock songs. I figured this gave some balance to my record collection, which leaned toward the SST and Homestead catalogues (when not overly British). Then, after college, I drove out to Los Angeles to visit for a week. On the way back, my friend and I stopped by Joshua Tree National Park. As the sun went down, we got back on the road. This involved an approximately 130-mile venture along state highways 62 and 95, so that we could get back on Interstate 40, which would carry us all the way to Arkansas. 

This was the first time I’d ever seen road signs like the ones that warned “Next Service 100 miles.” This was a stretch of road where skeptics become sure that those dancing lights are proof of extraterrestrial life. It was the first time I think I looked on the nighttime horizon and saw no sign of humanity. But the radio would come in. And what I heard was a top 10 requests program comprised entirely of classic rock songs that I had never heard. I couldn’t even recognize the bands. This, more than the dancing lights, convinced me that we had driven somewhere not of this world.

“What if we were abducted by aliens?” I said to my friend. “How do you know we haven’t been?” he replied. We didn’t say anything for a while after that, silently listening to the alien RAWK.

The other day I was sitting in my penthouse office here at Playback world headquarters, when the lackey from the mail room drops a plain-looking envelope on my desk. Inside I find a handcrafted CD entitled Rock N Roll, by a band called “IT.” Or maybe the band is called Rock and Roll and the album is entitled It. I’m not sure. Either way, the post-it from the editors said, “Review it,” in Laura’s unmistakable script.

My secretary connected me to Laura right away. “But I’ve got tee time with Nelly and Peter Raven in 30 minutes!” I protested.

“I need that review, and I need it snap! If it’s not on my desk in an hour, the only job you’ll be able to find is polishing shoes in Paducah!”

With no way around it, I put the album (either Rock N Roll or It, I’m still not sure) on the hi-fi while my secretary phoned my regrets. What I heard was a lot of reverb. I read on the back of the package that “…[T]he men have worked to develop a quick and unique, totally originally sound reminiscent of LED ZEPPELIN, yet diverse enough to qualify in other categories as well.” My efforts to dissect the logic of this statement left me disoriented—or, should I say, dazed and confused. I could make no more sense of it than the Budweiser brewery tour. There was a picture on the front and one on the back, which I took note to have my secretary to submit to that mullet Web page I saw the other day. I think I heard the phrase “got your mind right, feeling fine” in there. “Gonna rock and roll all over this land,” too. One song lists a flute in the credits! Then I notice that the bassist in the band description on the back of the CD isn’t listed as the bass player on any of the songs on the album. What are these guys trying to do? Then I read on, from the back of the CD: “The aim of the group is to entertain the masses of people throughout the UNITED STATES and the WORLD. An English-sounding American music band is “IT”!

I tried to get my secretary on the line with the Playback grammarian and sentence diagrammer, but she was still talking with Nelly’s peeps. Only then did I realize what I should have known the second that nondescript thud hit my desk calendar: that I should have just walked out, made my tee time, and never looked back on the glorious heights to which I’d ascended at this media giant. I might as well be shining shoes in Paducah. It was hopeless. The aliens had found me. Dude!

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