Monday, March 21, 2016

Keeping On

Party Animals

So the big discussion among conservatives these days is about whether the Republican Party will survive its current turmoil.

Like most William F. Buckley, Jr.-style conservatives, my allegiance to the GOP is solely
due to common ideological interests. Should the party select asshat Donald Trump as its nominee, my interests would no longer align with the party's, and I would have no choice but to consider other options for the November elections.

Austin Petersen, Libertarian Party Nominee
Not voting isn't an option for me, although I know many people have abandoned civic participation out of disgust with both parties. In my life I have voted for the Libertarian Party presidential candidate twice, and have supported a number of minor party candidates for state-wide races over the years (a few of those folks actually won their races).

I've started doing my due diligence on Libertarian Party nominee Austin Petersen, and I am also monitoring discussions about a new party that might arise from the ashes of the GOP if Trump gets the nomination.

"And you're still researching exile destinations too, right?"

I'd be a fool not to...

Mixed Bag

The concluding day of second-round action in the NCAA Tournament had few positive results, from my perspective. Notre Dame won a thriller over gutsy Stephen F. Austin, and Villanova won a huge blowout over Iowa, but aside from that it was a grim day.

By far the most dispiriting outcome was Northern Iowa's epic collapse in the closing moments against Texas A&M. It was truly brutal to watch. The Panthers went from the high of their epic last-second win over Texas in the first round to being a punch line after last night.

My other two rooting interests also did not fare well. Xavier lost a heartbreaker to Wisconsin on a last-second shot, and St. Joseph's fought hard but faded late and lost to No. 1 seed Oregon. A 2-2 split by the Catholic schools wasn't what I had been hoping for. I'm rapidly running out of teams to root for in the tournament. Now I'm down to just Iowa State, Gonzaga, Notre Dame, and Villanova.

"And what about..."
Hush. I told you, I'm not writing about your team again while their season is still going on, which it is. I don't want to jinx them. I can tell you that Long Beach State, who got the NIT bid that rightly should have gone to your team, lost in the first round...

What Are Friends For?

From the off-kilter webcomic xkcd, by Randall Munroe, which you should read every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, as I do.

Until Next Time...

One of the most frustrating aspects of having a career as a professional musician must be trying to figure out what makes for a hit record. One of my favorite groups from the late '70s to early '80s is a case study in how dogged persistence will occasionally pay off.

The hard rock band REO Speedwagon began its career in 1967, formed by two buddies who were students at the University of Illinois. It was four years (and many personnel changes) later before their eponymous first album was released. It was a commercial flop, but the band had begun relentlessly touring the midwest, where they had developed a small but devoted following. I had become one such fan after seeing them live in Kansas City not long before the release of their second album in 1972. That album was also a commercial flop.

By the time the band headed into the studio in early 1980 to begin recording their ninth studio album they probably had given up on the dream of major stardom. Unlike the first two, the band's previous six albums had made it onto the Billboard 200 Albums chart, but none had cracked the Top 25 and only two had made the Top 50. Never much of a singles group, the band had only released eight of them in its career to that point, half of which failed to chart. Of the four charting singles they had, No. 56 was the high point of their success.

All of that changed with their ninth album, Hi Infidelity. Released in November of 1980, the album became the biggest-selling rock recording of 1981, selling more than six million copies. It produced six singles which charted, including four that made the Billboard Hot 100 Singles chart. It spent 15 weeks at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 Albums chart, and eventually received nine platinum certifications from RIAA.

The first of those singles releases was "Keep On Loving You," a power ballad that didn't exactly rocket up the charts, but instead began a slow, steady climb from its early November release. Nearly five months later, the song's climb reached its pinnacle.

Original 1980 45 rpm single
On March 21, 1981 "Keep On Loving You" hit No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 Singles chart
Although it only spent one week at the top, it wound up as No. 10 on Billboard's Hot 100 Sellers of 1981 year-end chart. It received a platinum certification from RIAA.

The follow-up single, "Take It On the Run," reached No. 5 on the Hot 100, but the next two singles after that barely made the Top 25, and the final two releases only made the lower reaches of the Modern Rock charts, failing to make the Hot 100.

Following this unprecedented (and unexpected) success, the band went back to being minor regional stars, releasing 19 singles from 1982 through 2009. Eight of those releases failed to chart, and only six of them made the Top 20, although they did have
a second Hot 100 No. 1.

Despite their spotty recording career, the band is a big part of the soundtrack of my life. Their 1977 live album You Get What You Play For still gets regular listens. Maybe its a midwest thing.

Today's send-off is the band's official music video for their first big hit song. It was the 17th video played on MTV's very first day of broadcasting on August 1, 1981. The usual 1980s music video disclaimers apply. Enjoy...

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