Ah, 1979. When I think back on that year now on this first day off 2012, my memories jump very quickly to that summer, largely spent plotting and planning how to see more rock shows, how to get moremoremoremore records, playing my guitar, and reading rock mags. I was able to finagle more freedom and independence from my parents and my minuscule town. Traveling to Chicago with a bizarre woman twice my age on an overnight trip to see the Kinks was a hard sell to my parents, let me tell you, but I ended up going. Of course I did!

I don't know if it's such a thing now, but back then it was a big deal when the summer record releases came out, often right as school was finishing up in late May or early June. These would be the songs you would hear on the radio everywhere you went for those months, driving around, at parties, hanging out at home, floating in the air. Whether you liked them or not, that's what you got, because at that time radio was pretty locked down and AOR-focused, there was no MTV yet, and of course no internet.

One of the big summer records, which I bought the day it came out, was the Cars' "Candy-O." Their self-titled debut LP had come out of nowhere the year before to massive success; a hit with a wide range of rock fans, from the Bloaters to the New Wave kids. I was a little reserved in my assessment of them at the time, because as much as I knew they were all excellent musicians and extremely good songwriters, I found their clean, slick record production and distant stage demeanor rather chilly. I appreciated everything they did, liked it, played the hell out of "Candy-O" on my RCA stereo, but I couldn't love them like I loved the Beatles and the Kinks.

So imagine my surprise when, as I was digging into my sonic archives and replayed "Candy-O" for the first time in many years, I felt far warmer towards it now than I did then. Perhaps it's nostalgia, sure. But I think one listens with a different mindset, different ears later in life. The same lyrics take on other meanings, the music heard now in a vastly changed environment, all those years of life experience poking in on the deal. My favorite song on "Candy-O" was, and is, "Since I Held You." I can remember picking the needle up off of the record over and over again to replay the song, and I bet that if I examined the LP I might find some nicks and pops in the track's opening groove. I love all the bits and pieces of this song, fitting together in this almost music-box precision and mechanical lope, the little searing perfect guitar lines from Elliot Easton zipping in and out.

I went on over to YouTube to see if I could find a live version of it by the Cars from 1979, which I did, but I found one more, by a Colombian group named Crash, performing a nearly note-perfect cover on the TV show "La Telediscoteca." There is just something about this that completely fascinates me, from the Spanish accent to the dedication to detail to the mullets and baseball shirts, to the now-artistic-looking destroyed video and audio quality. I feel like I could step in through the screen, be instantly transported into black-and-white blurry shreds, wearing my Kinks' "Low Budget" baseball shirt and my own terrible mullet, 17 years old and ready to just...go.

Milwaukee Arena, August 12, 1979