Song written by Robert John “Mutt” Lange and performed by Huey Lewis and the News
I got to Ohio University in March or April of 1982. Pretty soon after that, I started working at the tiny radio station that some students had created. We had been gifted a couple spare rooms in one of the dormitories as well as a small budget for buying records. Someone had managed to make us a sanctioned club, so we had officers. I was a young freshman, so I watched and learned. A willingness to keep awful hours meant I had some undesirable shift spinning records soon enough.
The records bought by the station were selected by the Program Manager, who then marked up an attached sheet with suggested cuts. As a DJ, we kept a log of everything we played. Nothing really happened if you completely ignored the suggestions. For that matter, we were welcome to bring in our own records and play those. (As I discovered, the only limits were on music deemed to be in poor taste. In my case, that turned out to be King Herod’s Song from Jesus Christ Superstar, which did not sit well with some kitchen staff who had tuned in. Without any context, it might be a little challenging.)
The music that the stationacquired fell into two categories- recent hits and classics. Our genre was album-oriented rock. I had older brothers, one of who was working for MCA at the time, so I was in my element. But, I had little patience for doing as directed and was usually trying to find something better. That wasn’t easy, except that those sheets attached to each record had little places for marking “radio plays” beside each song.
So, you could look for the stuff everybody else liked and ignore it if you were a contrarian. For the most part, tastes ran to classic rock and new stuff that people had heard on visits home. Rare was a pop rock record that had not been overplayed. So, Picture This by Huey Lewis and the News was an oddity at the station. From the looks of it, even the Program Manager hadn’t known what to make of it. Occasionally, record companies sent records to the station because they thought we were bigger than we were. Usually, that was a kiss of death, because the companies seemed to think we played any old crap. Perhaps that’s what had happened with Picture This and everyone ignored it.
I liked pretty much the entire album and started playing it a lot. The songs fit in with everything else, I thought. Even better, I knew that I was breaking somebody that was going to be great. Naturally, I went home a month or two later and Huey Lewis and the Lewis were all over MTV. Well, for an hour or two in the middle of the night that spring, I was their one and only fan, as far as I knew. We’ll always have Athens.
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