Cool Night




I’m trying to remember where I heard “’65 Love Affair.” I mean it was a pop hit, and I never listened to AM radio. And then I remembered, back in the early eighties, when MTV broke, there was a new phenomenon, Top Forty on FM radio. Actually, it was a masterstroke, because the AOR stations were long in the tooth, set in their ways, and people were ready for something different, ergo KROQ, the ROQ of the Eighties, and I’m trying to remember the call letters, which I can’t, but I’m pretty sure the number was 100.3. And in the days of old you used to drive in your car pushing the buttons looking for music, something you wanted to stay on, something you didn’t want to instantly push away from. Sure, I had cassettes in the glovebox, but there was an immediacy of radio, back when we were all kind of on the same page and you could feel plugged in, now you listen to a podcast and don’t worry about anybody else.

“You sang do wop diddy wop diddy wop doo”

There used to be nonsense lyrics, especially in the early sixties, but even “The Boxer” had “lie-la-lie,” I always thought I just wasn’t catching the words, the single came out before the track appeared on the album “Bridge Over Troubled Water.”

And then there’s the Beach Boys records and…

There was a sunniness to sixties AM stuff, before we all switched to FM and album rock at the end of the decade. And sure, there were some mindless tracks, but there were also some meaningful ones too.

“If I could go back again

Well I know I’d never let you go

Back with some of my friends

To that wonderful

’65 love affair”

Actually, those days weren’t so great. I don’t want to go back, whether it be with Eddie Money or anybody else. But there are some flashes, some memorable moments that come back when I hear songs like “’65 Love Affair.” I did have a ’65 love affair, with Jill at Camp Laurelwood. I looked her up online decades ago. She was instantly recognizable, she still looks the same. Not that I’m gonna make contact. This was long before Facebook, when everybody came out of the woodwork, became available, in the late nineties and early part of this century the internet was still new, not everybody was findable, but I still looked for all of ’em. But never made contact with any of them.

“If I could go back in time

Well, I know somehow you’d still be mine”

Actually, I doubt it. I stole her from Jimmy, and it wasn’t long after camp closed that she went back to him. But she’s part of my history.

Anyway, you know how it is with records, certain ones infect you and others do not, and we’re always looking for those that do, and it’s got little to do with expectations, little to do with what others say, we just know it when we hear it, like porn, like that old, and he was old, Supreme Court Justice said.

But Paul Davis… Wasn’t he some smooth popster? Could I really like a record by Paul Davis? But then I saw the album in the promo bin, one of the advantages of living in Los Angeles, and I bought it, and I’d play the track and it would always make me feel good.


“It’s gonna be a cool night”

You know, the kind of night when they’re playing tennis in “Goodbye Columbus,” during the summer, maybe late spring, when you might need a light jacket, if that, when the evening is full of possibilities.

So we were driving back from Thanksgiving at Monica’s listening to Yacht Rock Radio on SiriusXM. Felice leans towards the soft rock sound, but I dig it too. I quibble with some of the choices, I thought the term was supposed to be a pejorative, Steely Dan yacht rock? I don’t think so.

But if you do hear Christopher Cross’s “Sailing” you’d be stunned how good it sounds today.

And Felice was driving, and she switches stations if she doesn’t like something, and I saw in the readout that the next song was “Cool Night” and I immediately said I LOVE THIS SONG, both excited it was playing and sending a subconscious message not to change the channel.

“Come on over tonight

Come on over”

I realized they don’t cut music like this anymore, we haven’t only lost the classic rock sound, but soft rock, and despite all the put-downs, a lot of soft rock is damn good. I know Steve Lukather has a thin skin, so many people laying hate on on Toto, but in truth I turn the same station up every time I hear “99,” and that’s not the only one.

And yacht rock was never about slumming, the obligatory hair ballad on a hard rock record, the legendary example being Extreme and “More Than Words,” rather these were soft rock artists, this was their oeuvre.

Now one thing about soft rock, it was never cut on a budget. It took money and expertise to make the sound smooth, this was not a one take enterprise, labor was involved. So soft rock does not have the edge of Nirvana, never mind the sixties acts, but it was an outgrowth, a progression from what came before. The acts had grown up with the Beatles, they knew you had to write your own songs, so people would believe what you were singing, and you’d should be able to play too, if it was a studio concoction we were not interested, there was still some of that, but don’t confuse that was the soft rock sound, which had a place in the firmament, even its own station in L.A., KNX, 93.1.

“Come on over tonight

Come on over”

Tonight these words resonated like they never have before. No one comes over anymore, certainly not unannounced. And I’m no longer in my twenties or early thirties, with those love affairs you thought might be something more, urging or being urged to come over. And that feeling, of nascent love, that’s a cool night, that’s soft rock.

“And now summer’s come and gone

And the nights they seem so long”

This is a late fall/winter song. The light is fading and so is your mood, you start reminiscing about the past.

“Oh, I won’t talk about the past

How love’s supposed to last forever”

Wait, this is a set-up.

“And you don’t have to take a stand

Lay out any plans

Come on over tonight

Come on over”

This is a booty call song! That’s not the way I’ve always heard it. Like I wrote above, I always thought it was about possibilities, the future, but really it’s about one last go-round before you part forever, or do it once again some time in the indeterminate future.

So what we’ve got here is desire.

And really, that’s the feel of the song.

And whether that desire is consummated or not does not matter, it’s all about how the record affects you. And when I was listening to “Cool Night” tonight it set me free, the layers of frustration, that feeling of the world pressing in, all faded away. It was palpable. I started singing along. It made me think of the aforementioned possibilities, which is an optimism people my age have a hard time embracing, they’re on the downhill slide, their lives are set in stone, they’re just waiting to die.

And Paul Davis is dead, of a heart attack, long before his time. But “Cool Night” is positively alive, still ready to soothe and inspire. And when it does that it makes you happy, and it doesn’t matter how anybody else feels, you’re in your own mental bubble, nothing can go wrong in your world.

“It’s gonna be a cool night

Just let me hold you by the firelight

If it don’t feel right, you can go”

Yes, my mood is good. I don’t want you to impinge upon my trip. But if you want to join in, bond and have fun, I’m here to welcome you. Cast aside all your prejudices, your judgments, no one is watching, you might wear leather and studs outside, but inside, especially with your honey, by the firelight, this music just makes you feel good.

“It’s gonna be a cool night…”

P.S. I looked it up, it was KIQQ, 100.3.

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