I mentioned my love for the Game Show Network several times on this blog recently, but another thing I really loved about the invention of digital cable was all of the music channels! I’m not talking about MTV, et al, but the ones that are like radio stations for TV. You can listen to music while reading random facts about the music you’re listening to.
I mean, that’s how it works nowadays. But back then? It was literally a black screen. It didn’t even tell you the name of the song and the artist you were listening to! Shenanigans. (a/k/a Salem’s best bar.)
One day, this song came on the alternative channel and I was like, “EVERYONE STOP WHAT YOU’RE DOING AND HEAR, I MEAN REALLY HEAR, THIS SONG.” And for once I wasn’t talking to my imaginary friends, because back then, I actually a ton of real life people who were always hanging around my loft. I had no idea who it was singing this haunting song; it didn’t sound like anything that was being played on the radio, which was odd because there was no real underground thing happening on these channels back then. It was seriously all bullshit you would hear on regular radio stations. But this song 100% was not being played on Pittsburgh’s alternative radio station.
I lunged over and hit “record” on my VCR, because this was pre-DVR days, my friends. I literally recorded a blank TV screen onto a VHS tape, just so I could later record that onto a cassette tape too. I was real tech-savvy in 1998.
Now that I had it recorded, I decided to call the local alternative station and do this: “If I play a song for you, can you tell me who sings it?” This worked once for me, when I first became transfixed and heart-eyed by Huffamoose’s hit single “Wait.” The DJ knew immediately who it was, flaunting his credentials and probably blowing on his finger tips as soon as he hung up the phone.
So I tried this tactic and the DJ was like, “I have no idea. Sorry.”
I waited for the next DJ’s shift and made the same call. Still no dice.
And I kept doing this for days until I exhausted all of my options. I was really big into videotaping every mundane thing I did back then, and I can tell you for a fact that I have legit video of my friends making these calls for me, too. One night, we just went around the room, taking turns calling the same DJ who fucking FLIPPED OUT finally and screamed, “I TOLD YOU I DON’T FUCKING KNOW WHO SINGS THIS STUPID SONG!”
You might say that this was the title track to Erin’s Summer of 1998.
I would play it over and over again in my car. I didn’t even care that the beginning was cut off. My friend Heather, who was basically living with me at the time, would subconsciously hum this song while half asleep on my couch. Some of my guy friends would threaten to pull the mix tape apart if I didn’t stop listening to it.
WE WERE ALL HAUNTED BY THIS FUCKING SONG. Friendships were ruined. Sanity was snapped. Local radio DJs were angered. That’s why I slept with so many guys that summer, Henry. It was the song making me do it. Really.
That fall, I met and began dating Jeff; even then I was still listening to The Song in the car, not as obsessively, but it was on several mix tapes. So this fucking song at some point had wormed its way into Jeff’s ears and set up camp in his brain, just as it had every sorry mother fucker that came to my apartment that summer. Flash forward to that spring, and we’re hanging out in my apartment (a different one at this point), and Jeff casually says, “Hey, that band you like was on [some late night show] last night.”
“Which band?” I asked, because hello. There are many.
“Guster,” he answered, and then looked confused when I said I didn’t know any band named Guster.
“Oh my god, are you fucking kidding me? You listen to that damn airport song all the fucking time!” he cried. And then it hit me. The airport song. The song I obsessed over that ended with the line “You’ll be selling books at the airport.”
Jeff unknowingly cracked the fucking code. And yet I still I fucking dumped him. Sorry, Jeff.
I went out and bought their CD immediately. But…I never actually became a Guster fan. I only just liked that one song. The fucking Airport Song. (That’s actually the name of it, too!”
So today, I am going to share this goddamn song with you, because it practically ruined my life and you should know that.
I recently posted this video on Heather’s Facebook wall and she was like, “Thanks. I hate you.”