Friday, August 23, 2013

No. 286 – Out on the Streets

Performer: The Doobie Brothers
Songwriters: Patrick Simmons, Chris Thompson
Original Release: Arcade (Patrick Simmons)
Year: 1983
Definitive Version: Live at the Greek Theater 1982, 2011.

When I did my first song countdown at the end of the 20th Century, this song was on that list. A couple of years later, after Scott introduced me to the wondrous joys of iTunes, I could for the first time compile all 500 songs and listen to them in order. Out on the Streets was the only song from my list that I didn’t have on my computer.

When I began to compile the music for this here blog, this song remained the only song that I had to have that wasn’t on my computer. I owned no copy of it at all. In fact, I wasn’t even sure that it existed except for two facts: First, I saw The Doobie Brothers do it during their farewell concert that was broadcast on cable. Second, and more important, I made a tape of the said song.

Yes, nearly 30 years before I began this 1,000-song journey, I employed my high-tech taping method to record this song, because when I first saw the broadcast, I knew I needed a copy. I loved this song right from the beginning; I loved the contrast of Simmons’ driving rocker with Michael McDonald’s blue-eyed soul solo selection, You Belong to Me—and that the band played both. They seemed to have more fun playing this one, in my opinion, even McDonald.

There was just one problem: The only TV that had cable to which I was privy in spring 1983 was the one in the basement at Wolcott Hall at Wabash. If I wanted to make a tape of the broadcast, I needed the cooperation of everyone else in the building.

Well, one person asking 30 other guys for exclusive rights to the TV for two hours is a hard sell, so I didn’t bother. Instead, I set my alarm to get up at about 3 in the morning—when no one else would be awake and watching TV—so I had the TV all to myself.

So there I was, at 3 in the morning, with a tape recorder held up to the TV speaker, recording this and other songs from The Doobie Brothers’ farewell show. OK, I didn’t hold it up the entire show. I found that by moving the TV just enough, I could prop the tape recorder up and take a seat … until the tape recorder began to tip over and fall—right at the start of this song. I quickly caught it before disaster struck, but you can hear the commotion on the tape of this song. All in all, the tape didn’t sound too bad.

Fast forward 30 years: The tape disappeared. I still have the tapes Scott made from The Who’s farewell show that same school year, so it’s not as though I had gotten rid of it, but, well, who knows what happened to it? The bottom line is I had no copy of Out on the Streets. For a while, I thought I’d have to leave it off the list entirely, even though I knew it belonged.

Well, the all-knowing Internet came to the rescue. When doing a search on the song, I found that The Doobies released—almost 30 years after the fact—an album of the final show, called Live at the Greek Theater. I quickly went to MySpace to give it a listen, and—sure enough—it was the same show.

I made a quick purchase, and now I finally have Out on the Streets on my computer—the last song I added to the list before I began to whittle it down in 2011. Better late than never, and I don’t miss the sound of a tipping-over tape recorder in the background.

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