Mix CD Redux: The Grand Canyon Mix

If you’re wondering where in the hell this edition of Mix CD Redux came from, you can place the blame squarely on the shoulders of the “Saturday Night Glee-ver” episode of Glee which we watched on Hulu Plus on Sunday morning. But this one actually has a pretty good story. First, the cover.

This CD was a stocking stuffer for my brother and sister about 10 years ago. I made it because back in 1986, our family decided to take a cross-country car trip to Arizona. After what seemed like a million summers where our summer vacation was a week at the Lutheran church camp at Lake Okoboji, it was our first real vacation. The trip was part pleasure and part business. I don’t exactly remember the reason behind it, but my dad was starting to think that it might be a good idea to move down there. A few years later, two of his brothers and his sister did. Needless to say, since my parents are still living in the house I grew up in, we did not follow. Prior to taking that trip, my folks gave me one directive – prepare the music. This was well timed because the summer of 1986 was the summer of my musical awakening, or rather, the summer I started listening to something other than Olivia Newton-John. I watched MTV every chance I got, listened to Casey Kasem’s Weekly Top 40. I even wrote down the Top Ten every week and typed it into a word processing document – a trait I share with so many people that I’ve lost track of how many others did the same thing. Surely I was up for the job.

You would be wrong.

Somehow or another, we ended up in our burgundy Ford Fairmont station wagon heading west with barely any music. If I recall correctly, the only tape I brought was a 90 minute Memorex that had Heart’s 1985 self-titled album on one side and ONJ’s Soul Kiss on the other. Not exactly enough music for a 2000 mile drive. For whatever reason, my dad had a few a few mix tapes in the car, and they were filled to the gills with Bee Gees and 5th Dimension songs as well as a handful of other AM radio classics. We listened to those tapes all the way to the Grand Canyon and back and when we weren’t listening to them, it was radio or bust. Those songs saw us through a flat tire on our fold down camper somewhere in Texas, the car overheating on the Continental Divide, through Wolf Creek Pass and a hundred other adventures I’m sure I’ve forgotten. When I went with my wife and daughter to L.A. a few summers ago, we followed a very similar route, leading my sister to comment that I was reenacting our 1986 vacation, only minus the copious amounts of Bee Gees and 5th Dimension. Naturally, her comment made me want to hear those songs, but damn it all to hell, I had not a single Bee Gees song on my iPod.

So when I think of these songs, I always think of being inside that station wagon. It was an adventure. We drove to Phoenix a few years later in 1990, but I don’t think we had any Bee Gees along.

Some comments on the individual songs:

  • My sister and I still frequently refer to “Night Fever” as the “we don’t have to show it” song, derived from a mishear of the lyric “we know how to show it.”
  • “More Than A Woman” is probably my favorite Bee Gees song EVER. I will always remember staying up till 3AM in my college dorm den watching Saturday Night Fever as the late-late-movie with my friend Kelly (who slept through a lot of it) and when this song came on, she was all “Four letter woman? What does THAT mean?” Whenever I listen to it, “four letter woman” is all I can hear. And now, thanks to this, so will you.
  • And since, apparently, this CD contains many classic lyric mishears, I spent the entire vacation trying to figure out a lyric in “Stoned Soul Picnic” which sounded to me like “There’ll be trains of trust, trains of the Golden Girls.” It’s actually “There’ll be trains of trust, trains of the golden dust.”
  • Amidst all the Bee Gees and 5th Dimension on this CD, I scattered songs that were popular that summer. As I mentioned, the summer of 1986 was the summer I really started paying attention to music charts and what was popular. I made the idiotic claim that I was going to try to listen to “Papa Don’t Preach” every time it was played on the radio. Great idea, Dan. And really likely to happen.
  • My mom was and still is a pretty big Huey Lewis & the News fan. I think that the Fore! album is where they started to really lose it, and I heard “Stuck With You” so much that summer that I really wanted to just obliterate it from my consciousness. Listening to it now, it’s not a bad little song. I still prefer “Hip To Be Square” though.
  • I remember reading a MAD magazine parody of “Aquarius” that changed the lyric from “this is the dawning of the Age of Aquarius” to “you know you’re driving in the smog of Los Angeles.” I KNOW that I read it, but I can find no proof that this ever existed. It’s not in the MAD Magazine CD-ROM set, nor is there any trace of it in a Google search. Still, one of the best MAD Magazine song parodies.
  • Tina Turner’s “Typical Male” was actually not played at all during the vacation, but its video was world premiered on MTV the night we got home. I had read about it in USA Today and was hoping we’d make it home in time.
  • Proving that innuendo existed even in the 60s, “Puppet Man” features the line “if you wanna see me do my thing, pull my string.”
  • Was Regina the first pretender to Madonna’s throne? When I heard this song, I was sure it was an old Madonna song from the first album (which, at the time, I still didn’t have.) This song has dropped off the digital music map and isn’t available for purchase digitally ANYWHERE that I can find. It doesn’t even stream on Spotify. I still really love it though. Bonus points if you can name the song that plays in the first few seconds of this video.

A fun trip and a fun CD to make. I made a Spotify playlist of it that features every song except for Regina, which is a goddamn crying shame.

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8 Responses to Mix CD Redux: The Grand Canyon Mix

  1. John Hill says:

    Nu Shooz “Point of No Return”!

    Love the playlist. Every once in a while, a song pops up that reminds me of a roadtrip. I had Sheila E’s “Hold Me” on a mix tape on a family camping trip to the Adirondacks and I listened to it over and over. Weird how those random connections occur in our heads.

    • Dan says:

      Road trips are among the best times for musical connections to form. Even short day trips have had that effect on me.

      And you win the extra credit for Nu Shooz!

  2. Elliot says:

    Maybe a little too much Bee Gees ! I had never heard the Regina track, but it does sound a lot like Madonna. – Can’t beat a bit of “age of aquarius”.

    • Dan says:

      I really love 5th Dimension – actually anything with really good harmonies will get me. The other cool thing about them is that when you listen with headphones, the female and male vocals are frequently divided between your ears.

      And yeah, Regina definitely had the Madonna vibe going on. I’m sure it wasn’t deliberate. 😉

  3. Pingback: You Only Need One Name « Pop Music Notes

  4. StevenX says:

    I remember the Mad parody as well….my favorite. Wish I could find the lyrics. I remember “there’s no city worse to drive in / you’ll need luck to stay aliiiiiive in Los Angeles / Los Annn-gel-essss!”

    • Dan says:

      I always thought that all the stuff in the MAD books was recycled from the magazine, but this is proof positive that some of it was original material. The fact that I can’t find it anywhere on the internet made me think I made it up. Thanks for confirming!

  5. Here are the lyrics to that Mad Magazine parody of “Aquarius”!
    “When the sun is blotted out of sight
    And both your eyes begin to burn
    And you can’t see the freeway
    To maaake
    That left hand turn
    You know you’re driving in the
    Smog of Los Angeles!
    Smog of Los Angeles!
    Los Angeleeeees!

    Traffic jams and drivers swearing
    Honking horns and sirens blaring
    Freeway signs obliterated
    Everyone exasperated
    There’s no city worse to drive in
    You’ll need luck to stay alive in
    Los Angeles!
    Los Angeleeeeees!”
    It took forever to find this. Glad to “play it forward”!

    Steve in Florida

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