Lost Treasure: 20/20, “Tell Me Why”

Keith Klingensmith from Futureman Records ID’d a 1979 song for me tonight that I knew like the back of my hand, but…even though I have the most “photographic” of photographic memories…had forgotten the name of. I knew the chorus, and could sing it. I remembered a couple of lines of the lyrics. For the last couple of weeks…after not thinking about the song for decades…I’ve had it in my head on a regular basis.

When that normally happens, and I can remember the song, I usually head over to Amazon for the MP3, if it’s available, or the CD, if it’s not. But I was stuck. I tried every trick in the book, like when you can’t remember where you left your car keys. Nothing. So I posted what I remembered about the song, and 10 minutes later, Keith replied with the link to the song on YouTube.

I was blown away. It’s just a song, right? Nope…it’s never “just a song.”

In 1972, I moved to California from Massachusetts. I was the proverbial fish out of water. I made friends at school, and formed a band. I made friends at work, and they became my posse.

In the late 70s, we were still hanging on to what was left of the hippie aura. We were longhairs. we loved rock and roll, and when I’d go over to their homes to hang out and listen to music, it was that whole CSNY “Our House” vibe.

My friends Richard and Dorit had an old wood and metal coffee grinder, the kind with a crank on the top that would take the skin off your knuckles if you didn’t pay attention to what you were doing. It was my first cup of black coffee, and I’ve never had it any other way since. I start off every day with a cup, and as the steam rises and I take the first sip, I occasionally see myself in that house, listening to “Close To The Edge” by Yes and “Larks Tongues In Aspic” by King Crimson. Richard and Dorit were heavily into Progressive Rock, and it’s the same as that cup of coffee…I’ll put on music by those bands today, and I’m back in that funky, small wood floor house in Redwood City, sipping a cup of hot black coffee and listening to “Easy Money” and “Close To The Edge.”

My friends Phil and Swarni were into The Beatles, and New Wave. Phil once gave me a mix tape he’d made and labeled “Headcase,” and it was chock-full of new (to me) artists like Radio Birdman, Durocs, Root Boy Slim, and…20/20.

Phil liked “Tell Me Why” because it has a distinctive George Harrison phrasing. It became a favorite of mine as well. “Headcase” was in heavy rotation as I drove around in California. I owned the tape as recently as a couple of years ago, when it was swept away in a series of what seemed like endless migrations until I settled in South Carolina in 2015.

These days, most of my time is spent writing about music, as well as a major music-related project I’ll be unveiling in another week or so. I interact with musicians and music lovers on Twitter, Facebook, and this Website.

In short, I’ve spent most of 2019 “cyber hanging out” with new friends who remind me of those days…that aura, that vibe, is back. I’m in the same “zone” that I was in then, just a little older (OK, four decades older) and wiser. But the inescapable fact is that music is the best experience in the world, and the best friends in the world are music lovers.

Thanks again, Keith…the next cup of “Cyber Joe” is on me.