Monday, April 9, 2012

No. 787 – Street of Dreams

Performer: Rainbow
Songwriters: Ritchie Blackmore, Joe Lynn Turner
Original Release: Bent Out of Shape
Year: 1983
Definitive Version: Final Vinyl, 1986. The cassette tape version was for many years the only one that included this song.

When Scott turned 21 in 1992, there was no question but that he, Jin and I would celebrate the occasion in Chicago. Jin had just moved into her new apartment, so she didn’t have to worry about roommates any more and had plenty of room for me and Scott.

For dinner we took Scott to Lawry’s. I had been a couple of times by this point, and given my limited knowledge (or even interest) of different cuisines and restaurants, I couldn’t imagine a better place to go. Actually, in fairness, it’s still impressive. I mean how can you go wrong with prime rib carved at your table in a chandelier-adorned dining room? OK, so we ended up in a back dining room and not the main one; it still was good. And because this was before I had discovered wine, the meal wasn’t too expensive.

After that, it was time to hit the bars. The first stop was Sluggers in Wrigleyville. I haven’t been in a while, but I assume it’s still the same. I always thought Sluggers was cool, because on the third floor of the bar was a huge game room that included batting cages for both softball and baseball, video games, air hockey and Hi-ball. Hi-ball is crazy: You’re on a trampoline in an enclosed room that’s divided into four sections—with one person in each. You get a Nerf ball and the object is to bounce high enough to throw the ball through a hole that’s about 10 feet off the ground.

Actually, I think the real object of the game is to not throw up, which can be a challenge if you’ve imbibed. Sluggers doesn’t let you take drinks into the game room, and it’s just as well, but even after one beer, the stomach can have a negative reaction to Hi-ball. Fortunately, we survived with our dignity intact.

After that it was off to the Smart Bar by the Metro for some dancing. (Scott and Jin partook, I just hung out and let my stomach settle.) Finally we ended up at the Kingston Mines.

The Mines, of course, is a legendary blues bar, and it hadn’t been ruined yet in 1992. Now, it’s huge and clean and bright. Yuck! Back then it was a dark, two-room dive, with the front door by the stage in the main room. You had to walk past the stage to get to the tables and bar in the back. The bathrooms—a one-holer for the men—were right next to the stage.

I can’t remember who was playing that night, and it didn’t matter. I dropped off Jin and Scott and drove around to find parking, which took a while. When I walked in, the band was doing a blazing—and pretty competent—version of Highway Star by Deep Purple. What the hell? This is a blues bar, isn’t it?

I found Jin and Scott by the bar in the back and asked them what was up, and they said these guys—a bunch of white guys—came on stage and played Smoke on the Water and then this song. I took a closer look and recognized the singer, but I couldn’t quite place where I’d seen him before. Neither could Jin.

They stopped after Highway Star and there was a break before the headliner—it wasn’t them—went back on stage. As it would happen, the singer ended up next to me at the bar, and he said something to me, and wham, it hit me: It was Joe Lynn Turner, most famously of Rainbow (note the songwriter of this here song) but now of Deep Purple after Ritchie Blackmore (who wasn’t there) had reunited the old mates. I guess that explains why Highway Star sounded so good, right?

As he moved away from me, I told Jin that it was Joe Lynn Turner, and she shouted out: That’s right. It’s Joe Lynn Turner … who was standing right next to her. Meet Joe Lynn Turner, Jin. We chatted with him for a bit, but he wanted to get back to where his crew was hanging out.

But the next thing we knew, Jin was being taken over to their table to meet someone who had an eye on her. Unfortunately for both parties, it was a woman, and Jin—though flattered—isn’t a lesbian. Instead she ended up talking to one of the guys who had been on stage with Turner—the keyboard player. And before long, she ended up making out with the said keyboard player.

I leaned over to Scott: OK, everything’s cool now, but if for some reason, Jin starts to resist and he presses the issue, we got to jump in—with barstools flying—to defend our sister. How awesome would that have been? For your 21st birthday, Scott, we’ve arranged a barroom brawl at a legendary Chicago dive with members of Deep Purple. That kind of thing doesn’t happen every day, you know.

But it was cool the whole time, and when they finally separated, Jin said we all had been invited back to their hotel for an after-party, but she had already declined, no doubt sensing the potential trouble that might have caused—although, obviously, I’d have had a much better story to relate.

It’s still a pretty good one anyway, though, and to Jin’s later chagrin, she told us the keyboard player played with Warrant. Of course, that meant she had to endure me and Scott singing “she’s my cher-ry pie …” as cheesily as possible the whole drive back to her apartment, which is to say, just how it was performed.

Scott agreed when he split the next day that all in all it was a pretty excellent birthday bash. And I still have my Kingston Mines T-shirt from that night.

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