Category Archives: Music

Blame it on the Boomtown Rats

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In my second senior year of college at KU (long story), I lived in an ancient studio apartment building across from the Beta and ATO frat houses on Tennessee Street. It was so old it had dumbwaiters in the halls and murphy beds in the apartments. The closet was only three feet wide, and the bathroom had a claw-foot tub and no shower. Immense gleaming purple slugs patrolled the crumbling sidewalk out front. The first night I moved in, some guy had an LSD freakout and cannonballed through a window.

But once I got rid of the cockroaches* and scoured the place, I loved it. The branches of oaks and sycamores filled my windows, sunshine through the leaves painting my walls brilliant green in the spring and summer, and apricot and scarlet in the fall. In wintertime, the strong black branches cast vigilant shadows and supplied pedestals for fantastical snow sculptures.

This guy.

This guy.

I had a night class fall semester, and walking home one night, I heard a bicycle approaching me from behind. I turned to look. A forty-something dude about my height who looked like a creepier version of Michael J. Pollard was pushing the bike, not riding. Apropos of nothing, he let out a nervous, Peter Lorre-type laugh. In my mind, I heard the eerie opening strains of  the Dead Kennedys’ “The Prey.” I walked faster.

By the time I got to the front walk of the apartment building, his giggles had climbed the lunatic scale to near hysteria. My pace had escalated to a run, and he was right behind me, giggling madly. As I raced him to the door, he rolled his bicycle over three of the fat slugs, bisecting them with a wet squish, and up the steps. I sprinted down the hall and fumbled with my door key, ready to yell for help. But as I turned toward him, he disappeared down the staircase, bike and all, to the basement. I heard a door open and shut down there.

Okay, so a weirdo lived below me, who I discovered later had an equally weird Al Capone-lookalike roommate. I shouldn’t have been surprised. The rent was super cheap, it was just down Mount Oread from campus and three blocks from downtown, and it was a couple of blocks from Bullwinkle’s, a tiny dive bar that wasn’t much more than a lean-to with a tap and a kick-ass jukebox. At least my totally BA upstairs neighbor, Lori Elliott, had been followed by the bike-pusher too. We agreed to do laundry together in the basement to make the giggling and doorway-lurking bearable.


This one.

One Saturday night, I skipped the bars and stayed at home to listen to a Boomtown Rats album I’d just bought from Exile Records and Tapes, the local used-music and head shop**. I sat on the floor, ready to drop the needle on track one, side one. But just as I lifted the tone arm, I heard moaning directly below me. I froze and listened, the needle poised above “Mood Mambo.” The moaning voice belonged to Michael J. Lorre. I replaced the stylus in its cradle and pressed my ear to the floor.

The noise that surged from the basement sounded like the bawling of a wounded calf. And above that disturbing noise came the roommate’s voice.

“Come out of him!” shouted Al Capone Junior. “Come out of him now!”

Come out of him? Just what the actual hell was going on down there?

“Get thee behind me, Satan! I command you to come out of him!”

Holy shinola. What I was listening to was an exorcism.

And then the wild rumpus really got started. There were shrieks and shouts, dishes crashing, glasses shattering, furniture splintering. There was repeated hollering for Satan to come out, and then little Michael J. Lorre started babbling at the top of his voice. Al Capone Junior joined in.

They were, I realized, speaking in tongues. They sounded like a couple of liquored- and coked-up auctioneers having an epic rap battle. This went on long enough for me to pour two fingers of Jack Daniel’s into a glass and re-seat myself on the floor.

After one final crash, Michael J. Lorre laughed and cried with relief. I imagined ACJ untying him from a chair, and the two of them hugging and crying.

It was over. Satan had left the building.

Because this was the first Saturday night I’d stayed home since moving in, I wondered if getting in front of the devil was a weekly event in Chez Lorre-Capone. But I was too interested in unleashing Bob Geldof and the Rats to ponder this for long. I once again raised the tone arm, but my downstairs neighbors beat me to it. I heard a needle fall on a very scratchy vinyl record. And then a familiar Welsh voice silenced me and my 36-inch speakers for the night.

Tom Jones. Singing “Delilah” at top volume.

Well, of course. This explained everything. The guy who crashed through the window wasn’t on LSD after all.

He was on Tom Jones.

*Powdered boric acid sprinkled liberally around every baseboard and crack in the apartment does the trick. The roaches walk through the powder, and it sticks to their legs. They carry it back to their nests, and the boric acid dissolves the eggs. Gross but effective.

**My 21-year-old daughter Chloe was confused by the term “head shop.” If you’re also confused, it means “drug paraphernalia shop.” Back in the day, stoners were known as “heads.”

Below you can listen to a playlist with the songs mentioned in this post, as well as some extra goodies. The first one to guess why I included “Foggy Mountain Breakdown” wins a prize.

The Drowning Game Soundtrack

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The Drowning Game Soundtrack from LSHawker on 8tracks Radio.

Name Artist Time Album Year
1 Fire Delta Rae 3:41 Carry the Fire 2012
2 American Girl Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers 3:33 Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers 1977
3 Mama Flyleaf 3:56 New Horizons 2012
4 Troublemaker Weezer 2:45 Weezer (Red Album) 2008
5 All Messed Up The Donnas 3:11 Spend the Night 2003
6 Blood On My Name The Brothers Bright 4:21 A Song Treasury 2012
7 Baby Says The Kills 4:29 Blood Pressures 2011
8 Fired Up Moe Tucker 3:59 I Spent a Week There the Other Night 1991
9 Modern Girl Sleater-Kinney 3:01 The Woods 2005
10 Catch Me If You Can Aloha from Hell 2:47 No More Days to Waste 2009
11 Find My Way Nine Inch Nails 5:16 Hesitation Marks 2013
12 White Blank Page Mumford & Sons 4:14 Sigh No More 2009
13 The Joker Steve Miller Band 4:26 The Joker 1973
14 She’s A Rebel Green Day 2:01 American Idiot 2004
15 Problems Sex Pistols 4:11 Never Mind The Bollocks Here’s The Sex Pistols 1977
16 Is This How You Feel? The Preatures 3:36 Is This How You Feel? 2013
17 Cowboy Kid Rock 4:18 Devil Without A Cause 1998
18 Shatter Liz Phair 5:29 Exile in Guyville 1993
19 I’ll Drown Soley 3:32 We Sink 2011
20 Everybody’s Stalking Badly Drawn Boy 3:40 The Hour Of The Bewilderbeast 2000
21 Waterbaby Sneaker Pimps 4:12 Becoming X 1997
22 Like U Crazy Mates Of State 3:58 Bring It Back 2006
23 The Lake The Cooper Temple Clause 5:20 See This Through and Leave 2002
24 Shitlist L7 2:49 Bricks Are Heavy 1992
25 Going Under Evanescence 3:35 Fallen 2003
26 Obsessed With You X-Ray Spex 2:27 Germ Free Adolescents 1978
27 Smoke On the Water Pickin’ On Series 4:44 The Bluegrass Tribute to Classic Rock Hits 2007
28 I Miss Your Bones Hospitality 4:08 Trouble 2014
29 Regret St. Vincent 3:22 St. Vincent 2014
30 Nostalgia Kills Quasi 3:12 Mole City 2013
31 Deep Forbidden Lake Neil Young 3:42 Decade 1977

101 Favorite Record Albums

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  • After the Gold Rush — Neil Young 1970
  • Against the Wind — Bob Seger & the Sil­ver Bul­let Band 1980
  • Aja — Steely Dan 1977
  • Almost Famous Soundtrack — Various 2000
  • Amer­ica — Amer­ica 1971
  • Another Grey Area — Gra­ham Parker 1982
  • As Falls Wichita So Falls Wichita Falls — Pat Metheny and Lyle Mays 1981
  • At Crooked Lake — Crazy Horse 1972
  • At Fill­more East — The All­man Broth­ers Band 1971
  • AWB — The Aver­age White Band 1974
  • Back in Black — AC/DC 1980
  • Back to Black — Amy Winehouse 2006
  • Big Hori­zon — David Wilcox 1992
  • Blood Pressures — The Kills 2011
  • Bon­nie Raitt — Bon­nie Raitt 1971
  • Book of Dreams – The Steve Miller Band 1977
  • Born to Run — Bruce Spring­steen 1975
  • Buf­falo Spring­field — Buf­falo Spring­field 1966
  • Celebrity Skin — Hole 1998
  • Cheap Trick at Budokan — Cheap Trick 1979
  • Com­bat Rock — The Clash 1982
  • Comes a Time — Neil Young 1978
  • Core — Stone Temple Pilots 1992
  • Crazy Horse — Crazy Horse 1971
  • Damn the Tor­pe­does — Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers 1979
  • Decade Of Rock & Roll — REO Speed­wagon 1980
  • Dig Down Deep — Jana Alayra 1996
  • Dirt Sil­ver & Gold — Nitty Gritty Dirt Band 1976
  • Diver Down — Van Halen 1982
  • Downward Spiral — Nine Inch Nails 1994
  • Every­body Knows This is Nowhere — Neil Young and Crazy Horse 1969
  • Fanmail — TLC 1999
  • Farewell to the First Golden Era — The Mamas and the Papas 1967
  • Fire — Ohio Play­ers 1974
  • For Every­man — Jack­son Browne 1973
  • Gaso­line Alley — Rod Stew­art 1970
  • Greet­ings from Timbuk3 — Timbuk3 1986
  • Hair of the Dog — Nazareth 1975
  • Hang On for Your Life — Shoot­ing Star 1981
  • Harder … Faster — April Wine 1979
  • Head East — Head East 1978
  • Her­mit of Mink Hol­low — Todd Rund­gren 1978
  • Hotel Cal­i­for­nia — Eagles 1976
  • Is This It? — The Strokes 2000
  • Jack­son Browne — Jack­son Browne 1972
  • Jesus Christ Super­star — Orig­i­nal Broad­way Cast 1970
  • Jonathan Edwards — Jonathan Edwards 1971
  • Karla Bonoff — Karla Bonoff 1977
  • L.A. Woman — The Doors 1971
  • Lady in Satin — Bil­lie Hol­i­day 1958
  • Late for the Sky — Jack­son Browne 1974
  • Led Zep­pelin II — Led Zep­pelin 1969
  • Left­over­a­ture — Kansas 1976
  • Let it Bleed — The Rolling Stones 1969
  • Lon­don Call­ing — The Clash 1979
  • Machine Head — Deep Pur­ple 1972
  • Mama Let Him Play — Doucette 1977
  • Mole City — Quasi 2013
  • Mondo Bongo — The Boom­town Rats 1981
  • Muswell Hill­bil­lies — The Kinks 1972
  • Nev­er­mind — Nir­vana 1991
  • New Rid­ers — New Rid­ers of the Pur­ple Sage 1976
  • Nothing's Shocking — Jane's Addiction 1988
  • O Brother Where Art Thou? Sound­track — Var­i­ous 2000
  • Phoebe Snow — Phoebe Snow 1974
  • Pre­tenders — The Pre­tenders 1980
  • Parade — Prince 1986
  • Quadrophe­nia — The Who 1973
  • Red Octo­pus — Jef­fer­son Star­ship 1975
  • The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars — David Bowie 1972
  • Rocks — Aero­smith 1976
  • S.R.O. — Herb Alpert’s Tijuana Brass 1966
  • Skele­tons from the Closet: The Best of Grate­ful Dead — The Grate­ful Dead 1974
  • Smell the Color 9 — Chris Rice 2002
  • Sneakin’ Sally Through the Alley — Robert Palmer 1974
  • Some Girls — The Rolling Stones 1978
  • Songs in the Key of Life — Ste­vie Won­der 1976
  • Speak­ing in Tongues — Talk­ing Heads 1983
  • Squeez­ing Out Sparks — Gra­ham Parker 1979
  • Sticky Fin­gers — The Rolling Stones 1971
  • Stranger Than Fiction Soundtrack — Various 2006
  • Surfer Rosa — The Pixies 1988
  • Tail­spin Head­whack — Chris Duarte 1997
  • Tak­ing Lib­er­ties — Elvis Costello and the Attrac­tions 1980
  • That’s the Way of the World — Earth Wind & Fire 1975
  • The Age of Aquar­ius — The 5th Dimen­sion 1969
  • The Dark Side of the Moon — Pink Floyd 1973
  • The River — Bruce Spring­steen 1980
  • The Unfor­get­table Fire — U2 1984
  • Three Dog Night — Three Dog Night 1968
  • Time Fades Away — Neil Young 1973
  • Time Out — The Dave Brubeck Quar­tet 1959
  • Toys in the Attic — Aero­smith 1975
  • Voices in Mod­ern — The Four Fresh­men 1955
  • Wait­ing for Colum­bus — Lit­tle Feat 1978
  • Wild Planet — The B-52’s 1980
  • Yeah Yeah Yeahs — Yeah Yeah Yeahs 2001
  • #1 Record Radio City — Big Star 1974
  • 1984 — Van Halen 1984
  • 4 — For­eigner 1981
  • 41 Orig­i­nal Hits from the Sound­track of Amer­i­can Graf­fiti — Var­i­ous 1973
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