Performer: Pink Floyd
Songwriters: David Gilmour, Roger Waters
Original Release: Animals
Definitive Version: None
Well, I can’t write about this song and NOT talk about WKRP in Cincinnati. It was one of my all-time favorite shows, and for those of you not familiar with the details of each episode, this song was featured prominently and comically in the classic Thanksgiving episode when the radio station management dropped live turkeys out of a helicopter.
If you don’t know the particular scene, the general manager, Art Carlson, was feeling as though he didn’t have anything to do at the station any more after changing formats. He’s wandering the halls and goes into the booth while Johnny Fever was playing this song, during the first instrumental break.
Art: THAT’S Pink Floyd, huh?
Johnny: Gripping music, isn’t it?
Art: Do I hear … dogs on that record?
Johnny: I do.
What I love most about that scene now is the very idea that an AM station would play a 17-minute song. I mean the idea that ANY terrestrial radio station in this day and age would play 17 minutes of uninterrupted music, let alone one song that’s that long, is laughable.
So I knew this song about a decade before I got into it. After I really discovered Pink Floyd in 1987 and got Scott into them the next year, Scott made me a tape of Animals. Animals was a regular play during the Summer of Love. (Hard to believe, but this is the 25th anniversary of that summer.) I feel as though the memory that sticks out the most is of Melanie and I driving to the cherry pit-spitting contest in Eau Claire, but I wrote about that already. However, I played this song so much, just about any memory from the summer would do.
After thinking that Melanie and I hardly would see each other over the summer unless I went to Detroit or she took the bus, it turned out she had regular access to a car. We saw each other way more than I thought we would. Of course, I always liked it better when Melanie came to see me.
Not that having Melanie’s family around always prevented us from indulging in a little extracurricular activity when the opportunity presented itself. When I visited, as I think I mentioned, I was put into the guest bedroom, but on one visit, it was so hot—and Melanie’s mother didn’t run the AC much—that the upstairs was stifling. So Melanie and I spread a quilt on the floor in the family room and slept down there with the plate-glass back door open and fans running.
Melanie’s teen-age sister was staying with friends, her brothers were fast asleep, and her mother was out and not expected back till late. Now THIS was an opportunity, and we took it. But just before the climactic moment, Melanie’s mother came into the kitchen, which was open to the family room, and flipped on the light.
Holy crap! She’s home early! We both gasped as quietly as possible, and we rolled as far apart as quickly and silently as we could. We both frantically pretended to be fast asleep and none the wiser of the overhead lights in the kitchen.
Her mother said nothing and left the room soon afterward, so Melanie and I consoled ourselves in thinking that we had gotten away with something. But in retrospect, Melanie’s mother HAD to know what was going on. So, yeah, it was better being in New Buffalo: No one would come walking in on us.
The same weekend as the cherry-pit-spitting contest—July 4—New Buffalo had a huge fireworks display over Lake Mighican. Melanie and I wandered down to the beach to watch. It was pretty crowded, so we picked a spot away from the crowd up in the sand dunes as fiery bursts of color—not unlike those seen earlier that day in my apartment—erupted over the lake.
Out in the lake, a huge contingent of boats had anchored on a perfect night, and after particularly good firework bursts, you’d hear the beep-beeping of a few motorboat horns. It was a good show—it’s almost impossible to have a poor fireworks show, really—and at the end, a wave of beeps filled the air.
That memory stuck with me to the point where now after the finale, I always signal my approval by “beeping” instead of cheering.