I think it’s been well-established that I never really seemed to like the right music when I was in high school. Sure, I have an entire collection of the various grunge and metal bands that were popular during the early 1990s, but I am pretty sure that what I listened to was largely different than my Metallica-worshiping friends were digesting. I think the reason for this was two-fold: first, my parents didn’t have cable and I therefore had no access to MTV; second, the radio in my room picked up a handful of stations, and since I didn’t want to listen to WBLI and WALK spew forth the vile death wail of Michael Bolton and Celine Dion, I tuned into WBAB, a classic rock radio station out of Babylon that I’d recognized from the bumper stickers that were often handed out at Fourth of July fireworks celebrations.
By the time I was a junior, I’d have one of those black WBAB bumper stickers in my locker and while my appreciation for Led Zeppelin and Aerosmith grew and I knew all of the words to Rush’s “Tom Sawyer” (what is it with classic rock radio and Rush? Do they have a quota for this band?), it didn’t put me on the fast track to awesometown as far as my musical taste was concerned. While my friends were deep into that world of metal and the Seattle band of the month, I was discovering bands like The Hooters.
Now, it’s not like nobody had ever heard of The Hooters, but by 1993 the success they had achieved in the mid-1980s with their Nervous Night album and songs like “And We Danced” and “Day By Day” had passed. They were more or less destined for one of those “Hey, remember the Eighties?” compilation albums and a decent following in their hometown of Philadelphia, but decided to make a go of it one more time with Out of Body. WBAB had the band in studio one afternoon and while I was working on my chemistry homework, I listened to their interview and in-studio performance of the first song on the album, “Twenty-Five Hours a Day,” a title that obviously makes anyone think of The Beatles’ “Eight Days a Week” and considering that band did cover the fab four at least a couple of times I can see a connection.
Anyway, someone who had been listening to distortion guitar for the past year or two, a song that begins with a mandolin and has a pop-rock upbeat sound should not have been dancing around his bedroom when it came on. But I made a note to tape it when it came on again, which was later that night, and “Twenty-Five Hours a Day” wound up on the second side of a mix tape I called “Tom’s Crap,” which was full of … well, random crap I had taped off of the radio that my friends who were walking around with portable CD players would never notice so I could listen to the Spin Doctors, Patty Smyth, and “American Pie” in my Walkman without ridicule.
I think the song lasted a couple of months on WBAB’s rotation and then disappeared, just like the band itself, which when listening to it again is kind of surprising because “Walk on the Ocean” by Toad the Wet Sprocket had been a huge hit in the fall of 1992 so there definitely was a market for that sound; furthermore, the Gin Blossoms and Goo Goo Dolls, and to a lesser extent groups like Deep Blue Something would chart starting the following year. I guess that The Hooters were the victims of bad timing or poor marketing, although to their credit they had a decent number of hits internationally.
Of course, I wasn’t thinking about a band’s marketing strategy when I was sixteen. I don’t think I even knew what marketing was. I listened to the radio, they played songs, and I taped what I liked. Then I rewound “Tom’s Crap–Volume 1” (or Volume 2, Volume 3, Volume 4 … all the way up to Volume 20), turned the volume on my stereo loud enough for my father to pound on the wall below and tell me to turn it down, grabbed a highlighter or pen and lip synched. Well, either that or I played lead guitar and sang backup vocals, but I definitely basked in the fake glory of putting on a killer concert. My performance of “Paradise City” was epic and left me and my fake audience panting; “American Pie” ended with my fake band gathering around the mic for a sing-along; and “Twenty-Five Hours a Day” saw me doing some sort of weird jig whenever the accordian and violin part after the chorus came on.
In fact, I’m pretty sure that one day when my dad was watering flowers in the backyard he spotted me doing that jig through my bedroom window. I’m not sure how much he knew about what went on my bedroom when I was alone. I mean, I did actually do homework and most other times there were Rangers games on the radio, but my dancing around must have caused some sort of thumping in the kitchen and dining room below. To this day, I’m amazed that he’s not completely embarrassed that my dork ass is a relation.
He didn’t have to endure my “Twenty-Five Hours a Day” dance for very long, though, because it fell off my radar and I taped more and more stuff off of the radio and CDs and soon enough was pretending I was Billy Joel and Freddie Mercury (yeah, that’s a whole other set of posts). I did remember who The Hooters were and in my Napster days would download both “Day By Day” and “And We Danced” (still haven’t gotten “All You Zombies,” though) and a few years ago when I finally got an iPod went looking for this one and was dismayed to see that Out of Body isn’t on iTunes at all. In fact, the only way that I could possibly get the album or any of its songs (at least the studio versions) would be to buy the album off of Amazon. The Hooters are a good band but I’m kind of beyond the days when I’d drop $15 on a CD just to get one or two songs.
The music video, however, is available on YouTube, and it wasn’t until I sat down to write this entry that I actually watched it. It’s not a great video by any means, just a typical, “Hey, we’re a band having fun singing our pop-r0ck song” video where everyone seems to be having almost too good of a time. But it is worth it to hear the song and look at how 1990s everything looked, especially on the one female member of the group who seemed to be going for a Natalie Merchant type of look … if Natalie Merchant frequented The Gap. Not that the guys’ wardrobe is any better considering it looks like they are shooting an ad for Structure or something. I am sure that Beavis & Butt-head would have a had a field day with this one.
However, if you really want to hear how much potential this song really has, I recommend where it is available for download, which is off of the 2006 live album Both Sides Live. If you buy “Twenty-Five Hours a Day” and “Satellite,” which is the song played afterwards, you have an eight-minute set closer that uses electric guitar to put some oomph into the song that’s missing from the studio version. I actually like hearing the live version because it’s not as thin as the original recording and let’s face it, bands like this always sound better live.
Of course, I didn’t know that back when I was in high school, dancing around my bedroom to the song I’d taped off of WBAB. I also didn’t know that I shouldn’t be embarrassed by the bands I was listening to that didn’t mesh with what everyone else was into. But then again, what do you know about that when you’re sixteen?