50CCM50, Part Three
Well, this is getting to be a pretty lousy habit, now isn’t it? Coming into the middle part of December, I had severe computer and Internet connectivity problems, my car’s radiator was leaking severely, my dog ate my homework, I ran out of gas, I, I had a flat tire, I didn’t have enough money for cab fare, my tux didn’t come back from the cleaners, an old friend came in from out of town, someone stole my car, there was an earthquake! A terrible flood! Locusts! IT WASN’T MY FAULT!!
(Stay tuned for a very special Consumerism column where I go into detail about the one in that list that’s the real problem, and the other that’s becoming so.)
At any rate, There is something that needs to be addressed here, and that is the list of albums that nearly made it, but not quite. If the list was 75 items long, they’d surely be here but, for one reason or another, I couldn’t quite fit them in.
Daniel Amos – Darn Floor Big Bite and Mr. Buechner’s Dream: DA is one of my all-time favorite bands, but I had to restrain myself from putting all their albums on the list, making it one big failure of fanboy excess. These two albums were the hardest to cut but, ultimately, the two DA albums I chose best represents the two musical sides of the band – the immediate rock and the highly conceptual.
AD – Art of the State and Reconstructions: Kerry Livgren got a lot of love from the 50Prog50 series, so I’m only partially disappointed he can’t place here, but over time, I’ve found myself going back to his solo Seeds Of Change much more than these, which are nonetheless powerful albums.
Sweet Comfort Band – Perfect Timing: A really good rock record from the ’80s, but a little too synthy now. It shows its age pretty plainly, and doesn’t stand up the way the prior Cutting Edge does (which appeared in the last installment).
Vector – Mannequin Virtue: A great new wave rock album, but not as effortless as Please Stand By (covered in the first installment).
Rich Mullins: He was too good to forget, but much like Keith Green, he didn’t fit the criteria I’d set for introducing the secular audience to the CCM world. Mullins made great music, music that is sung in church worship services around the world now, and resides in the hearts and headsets of untold numbers, but I can’t imagine people outside of the church gravitating to it very easily.
Michael W. Smith – The Big Picture: Really good songs on this one, but just like SCB’s Perfect Timing, it is chock full of synth, rendering it inseparable from its time. Try it with an open mind.
Starflyer 59 – Old: Mixing power pop with glam rock guitar groove, this was another tough choice. Jason Martin has two spots on this list already and I couldn’t part with those so this became the easiest of a bunch of difficult choices.
So, with those exceptions accounted for, let’s go on with the show.
30. Andy Pratt – Fun In The First World (1982): Known initially for his debut album featuring the song “Avenging Annie,” Pratt experienced a change of faith in the late ’70s, eventually leading to this five song EP, released independently through the Enzone imprint. The album takes Pratt’s piano rock, adds nice guitar punch and never tries to fix what isn’t broken, namely Pratt’s already impressive songwriting.
Songs like the title track, “Israel” and the seething “Paper Money” all bristle with energy but never get so narrowed in viewpoint that the songs couldn’t be appreciated by earlier fans. And yet, except for a select few (and now you, the reader), Fun In The First World seems like such a distant footnote. It was re-released on CD as The Age Of Goodbye, paired with his follow-up EP, Not Just For Dancing, which was produced by Stephen Hague.
Perhaps the most affecting moment of the five songs is in the bridge of “Who Will Be My Friend?,” a song sung in the voice of a person who feels completely cut off from this world. It’s not just the words, “So long, baby, it’s hopeless now. My heart’s grown cold and I don’t know how to love you…”
I don’t pretend to think this would ever have been a huge hit in the secular market. EPs have done only fringe business right up until Lady Gaga’s The Fame Monster, just to give you an idea of the odds that were against Pratt. Also, aside from Debbie Boone singing, “You Light Up My Life,” the larger audience simply wasn’t ready to accept something like this. However, I’m more surprised the Christian market didn’t take to it either because it was exactly the kind of thing so many young rock fans would have loved to hear – an authoritative musical talent with experience to boot, but sometimes these things just don’t come together like they should.
29. The Lost Dogs – The Green Room Serenade Part One (1996): The Lost Dogs consisted of Terry Taylor (DA), Mike Roe (The 77′s), Derri Daugherty (The Choir) and Gene Eugene (Adam Again) as a sort of Americana Wilburys type of supergroup. On this, their third release, the band worked through rock, pop, ballads and a nifty Elvis-like track, “Close But No Cigar.”
The band’s first outing, Scenic Routes, showed they had a feeling for the rootsier sound, and the second album Little Red Riding Hood found them integrating elements of their other groups, but it was on The Green Room Serenade where they found that balance between the two, creating an effortless sound that seemed to match their camaraderie as performers.
The simple truth is that Gene Eugene steals the album every chance he gets, from the raucous relationship-gone-bad track “Mexico” to the heartbreakingly beautiful “Waiting For You To Come Around,” and while there’s hardly a bum note or word on the collection, it’s his voice that constantly calls the listener back again and again.
Having said that, however, there have been few Leonard Cohen covers of recent vintage worth the listener’s time. “Hallelujah” has become divorced of all meaning as every PBS pledge drive performer trots their version out. I wonder if that was a consideration when the band chose “If It Be Your Will” to cover, or whether it was for more tangible reasons like it’s the perfect song for this band. Each member takes their spotlight, then they all merge into one holy voice. Ending the track is Eugene, the die-hard Cohen fan, making the listener believe that perhaps no other organization should ever try to do this song again. How could they top that? Let them have “Hallelujah,” if that’s the price to pay.
28. Terry Scott Taylor – Knowledge & Innocence/A Briefing For The Ascent (1987, 1989): Two separate albums but thematically inseparable, these records chart the grief process in different ways. Knowledge and Innocence is very much about the living who are left behind to grieve, while A Briefing For The Ascent is more about the soul who is working their way through the “Wild Wood” toward the great beyond.
Side one of Knowledge and Innocence might be called the “light side” of the record, as there is a peaceful vibe about it with tracks such as “Waiting,” the Beatlesque “(Out of the) Wild Wood” and the pop lullaby “Dancing On Light,” with its Phil Spector rhythms. Side two finds the darkness of the world encroaching, and the dire effects of it brings. “Ever After” finds the couple “Working, no holidays…” but not really getting by. “One More Time” is not just about the immediate mourning, but the mourning of a year after, a decade after, where the memories might have dimmed but the lingering sense of loss has not diminished one bit.
The closing song “Light Princess” would turn a stone heart to sand. The lyrics are perhaps the simplest of the set and they revolve around, “I could not hold this child in my arms, so I let her go and she floated to heaven.” It has the sing-song quality of a nursery rhyme, but there is a vein of anguish inside it that feeds the song. It is tender, it is beautiful, but when Taylor sings, “A father gives – the Father takes,” you feel his conflict. It is the request that you don’t ask why, but that’s the only question you want answered right now.
Both albums are obviously extensions of Taylor’s songwriting in Daniel Amos, but where the band was working through very conceptual ideas, with a very angular sound, these two albums are much more lyrically intimate, even at the most poetic moments. A Briefing For The Ascent becomes the story of the soul who was left behind, the half of the couple who had to carry on, now making their journey to be with the one they love. “The Wood Between The Worlds” lays it out, through “the smiles, the tears of boyhood years, the cheerful hearts, now broken – the eyes that shone, now dimmed and gone. How long? How long?”
While it might be cheating on my own predication, I can’t see these two records as separate entities, and I’ve mentioned this a couple times to the people who help with Taylor’s imprint, Stunt Records. I’ve also said that one day, the two should be re-released in a single package, but the fact that they were released by different companies makes the possibilities not particularly hopeful. Even so, death and loss are the most difficult topics to address without sounding too maudlin, phony, or inappropriate. Taylor’s ability to achieve that balance raises this collection to different standards altogether.
27. Adam Again – Homeboys (1990): The greatest funk band in CCM, or were they the only funk band in CCM? It is hard to imagine anyone else doing it much better than Gene Eugene and Co. though. They also brought a dollop of grit to their songs as far as content is concerned. “The Fine Line” finds the narrator about to give up and go back to his drugs. “No Regrets” calls out that false note of bravado, or denial, for what it is. Gene Eugene sings out how things have, by and large, worked out for himself. He has his wife, his band, his place, and yet he is racked by a lost opportunity he still seems to throw away. “Though I cannot do anything again, anything at all, today I could have, I should have made that call.”
As had been the custom for the Eugene, he reached into the archives of soul music’s past and recorded a cover that probably shouldn’t work, yet ultimately does. The band’s version of Marvin Gaye’s “Inner City Blues” is respectful yet grooving, aware of the message and ready to sing it with conviction, and all the while the listener never gets that awful feeling that this is crass co-opting. The whole band shines, especially on the funky workout of “This Band Is Our House,” from Eugene’s funked up deliver to Jon Knox’s in-the-pocket drumming, to Paul Valadez’s bass, Greg Lawless hitting the wah-wah groove just so, and Riki Michele’s vocal harmonies conjuring up a Prince-less Revolution.
For more on the story: Check out our Popdose interview with Michelle Bunch (Riki Michele) and Paul Valadez here.
26. Jacob’s Trouble – Knock, Breathe, Shine (1990): In the late ’80s, the nostalgia for the ’60s was becoming fairly prevalent. Paisley was making in-roads once more, Rickenbacker was jangling again after a long hiatus behind synthesizers. So too was the idea of the short-and-punchy pop tune, saying what it intends to say, in a way that gets you humming along, then gets out of the way. Jacob’s Trouble was a band particularly good at that.
Comprised during this period of Steve Atwell, Mark Blackburn and Jerry Davison, each track stays just under the 4-and-a-half minute mark and mostly lingers around three-straight (aside from the near-five-minute Dylan cover, “I Believe In You”), and that commitment to economy makes the album a breeze to listen to, so much so that you might miss some points along the way. “Islands, Bulidings and Freeways” is downright jubilant, but focuses on the isolating effects of modernity. “Mr. Hitler” tackles judgmental, my-way-or-the-highway theology: “They call me Mr. Hitler, you you won’t hurt my pride. I may be Mr. Hitler, but God is on my side. You can call me Mr. Hitler, but I’m righteous in my rage – I’ll shoot you down if you don’t get out of my way.” It should be obvious to most they’re not advocating this sort of dictatorial spirituality, but there’s an awfully good chance the song was misinterpreted down the line. Sadly, that happened a lot when artists attempted poetic license and roleplay in their recordings.
The two big stand-outs are “Wounded World” wherein the supposed learned among us, including ourselves, are inclined to hang back and let things get worse, thinking, “Well, I’m sure God’s got it covered,” and “There Goes My Heart Again.” The former says, “We sting like salt in the wounds of a wounded world – Well, it’s all our fault, yeah, we’ve all been caught…” Just because you are forgiven, or believe you are, doesn’t exclude you from trying to make the world better, or from trying to help your fellow person, even if and especially if they are not like you or don’t believe as you do. This is not a pick-and-mix option. To quote Adrian Belew, “You either make it better or make it worse.” It’s a common, human mission.
“There Goes My Heart Again” is a big old pop valentine and I dare you to listen to it without having it pleasantly stuck in your head for the rest of the day.
With bright colors, big hair, a Christian mindset and a hippy call to action versus commanding by the couch, Knock, Breathe, Shine is big fun, but says something in the midst of the love-in.
25. Michael W. Smith – i 2 (Eye) (1988): Michael W. Smith was always a progger at heart, in case his first album, The Michael W. Smith Project didn’t tip you off. It’s just that he never quite got the respect the prog guys get. I’d imagine a lot of that was because prog guys tend to look pretty rough around the edges, wide around the middle and shiny up top. Smith was sort of a poster boy, and that image would get permanently affixed to him when Go West Young Man reached crossover nirvana.
But his album i 2 (eye), even with its slightly cryptic and annoying title, proved to many he was more than a million dollar smile and a series of inspirational quotes. A lot of the credit goes to the people that surrounded him here, giving the songs a meaty, rock tone that was held to the background on the pop-centric The Big Picture. Guitar ringer Dann Huff is the primary player here, members of Stryper appear on “All You’re Missing Is A Heartache” and, even at that, Smith is a pretty mean keyboard player himself.
“Hand of Providence” has a slightly island-influenced lilt to the rhythm, “On The Other Side” has a melody that gets into your head like good pop ought to, and the instrumental “Ashton,” leading into “The Throne” solidifies my assertion that, had the man been a little bit homelier, he would have been recognized more as a prog artist.
Here’s what makes i 2 (eye) rise above: All the great religions of the world, not just Christianity, have one thing in common. It’s not judgment, a sense of moral superiority or righteousness, and in fact it is one of the most basic things in our existence – death. It is not something easily understood on an emotional level. Sure, we understand intellectually that the human body has various processes that need to take place, and when they don’t, the organism shuts down. This would be a thoroughly acceptable mindset if humans didn’t have the emotional component, attachment and relationships, the fear of loss, the living through pain and separation. It is worse when we think of the short life of a child.
“I Hear Leesha” is probably more manipulative than I want to admit, as it is a song of comfort to parents from the loss of their daughter. And yet it is heartfelt, and it does what it was written to do. You do find yourself choking up a bit when you hear it. “I hear Leesha singing in heaven tonight, and in between the sadness I hear Leesha telling me that she’s alright.” If you are a parent, or anyone who loves but specifically one who loves this youthful life cut short, you want to believe that soul is tangible, indestructible, and somewhere there is a presence watching over that soul in your absence.
The rational among us have found a way to reconcile the notion that when we’re gone, we’re gone, and are not entirely sympathetic to the “fairy tale” of afterlife, but for those that believe, it is everything. It gives existence meaning, it says that we weren’t made to run our race and then disappear. We mattered, and continue to matter, even when we are physically immaterial. For those that would call that the height of egotism, I’m sorry you feel that way. Most who believe aren’t in it so they can live forever; they’re in it to see their loved ones again.
These are the kinds of thoughts Michael W. Smith’s i 2 (eye) stir up, so maybe it is a little more profound than one might expect.
Fun fact: Smith’s early albums, and a whole lot of CCM albums, were produced or co-produced by Jack Joseph Puig, known today as the producer for the Jellyfish album Spilt Milk, which is as far from CCM as one could get!
24. Scaterd Few – Sin Disease (1990): Allan Aguirre, under the nom de plume of Ramald Domkus here, brought the terror of the street life up close and frighteningly personal on this first album from funk/punkers Scaterd Few. He looked like no one you’ve seen before, certainly no one you’d care to mess with. Sometimes he sounded like David Bowie, and at other times he sounded like David Bowie being caught in a wood chipper. The effect was the same: this world is a dangerous place. You think you know what goes on, but you barely have a clue. Listen…
At that time, you had to wake up early on Saturday morning to catch the Christian rock shows on college radio. Those minor notes and thrashing beats still scared the mainstream Christian broadcasters, so even much of what I would consider tame couldn’t get airplay otherwise. At the same time, I enjoy sleeping, and waking up at 7:00 AM just to hear Christian rock sounds like a sucker’s bet to me, no? Besides, they wouldn’t have played Sin Disease anyhow.
This is all to say that, back then, the Christian bookstores set up a tape deck with headphones and demo cassettes, so potential consumers could check out the wares. How else would they hear them? I saw Sin Disease in the rack and thought, “Wow, this looks gnarly,” and proceeded to pop the tape in for a trial. “Kill The Sarx” came on and I thought I was to have a heart attack.
However, that immediate and visceral revulsion gave way to curiosity and attraction, and I’d like to believe that was intended. Aguirre and company weren’t reporting from the pews, but down on the streets where bad things were happening. “This is your world,” they seemed to insist. “Look at it, and don’t close your eyes. Face this.” It is a confrontational, loud, funky, frightening recording at times, designed to scare the hell out of you.
Fun fact: Aguirre is now the leading force behind Men As Trees Walking, which has a much different approach than Scaterd Few, but the same mission. Check them out here.
23. Michael Knott – Rocket and A Bomb (1994): Knott based this album, largely centered around his folky side, on common characters, down-and-outers living in the neighborhood, in the apartment complex, in the space down the hall. They all have secret lives happening, they all have things they don’t particularly want to talk about, needs, desires, failures, regrets, and frustrations. The title track spells that out succinctly – “All I ever wanted was a good job and some bus fare… and a rocket, and a bomb.” It is the voice of an outsider asking Mr. In and Mrs. In why it is them and, seemingly, can never be him. Knott would revisit the song for his Aunt Bettys project, but this version is, in my opinion, the definitive one.
These are not particularly fun vignettes, mind you. “John Barrymore Jr.,” the weird guy down the hall with sixteen cats and a dog drinking beer from a bowl, “Bubbles” the clown who wants to go to detox who was picked up by a “patron” and won’t divulge the terrible things that happened during that ill-fated exchange, “Jan The Weatherman” who seems to be harboring transients in his apartment, or is it something else? We’re never really sure.
Knott’s voice is weary, angry, worried, cautious, and his playing, even in the most electric tracks, has the frills-free trills-free attack of a reporter: just the facts, man.
A lot of these songs didn’t hit me until recently. Oh, I’ve always liked the album, but these are stories that, in 1994, I only barely could relate to. A suburban kid in a fairly active job market, a little foldin’ money in pocket and a little stylin’ hair on the top of the head just heard songs like “Skinny Skins” (which, I suspect is about drummer Steve Hindalong, whose nickname of the time was “Skinny”) and accepted it as an alt-rock singalong. Now there’s poignancy in the chorus where Knott sings, “Skinny Skins, I owe him money,” because you can tell he doesn’t know how, or if, he’s ever going to be able to pay back that debt. That’s the theme of the record: all these people have debts – monetary, spiritually, emotionally, socially - and they all don’t know how to put them right, and oh, how long it has been since those debts were incurred. It’s a long, hard road, and how the hell did we wind up here?
22. The Seventy Sevens – Pray Naked (1992): And so it went that the sixth album from the Seventy Sevens became their second self-titled album. Call it a confluence of intolerance via parent company Word Inc., releasing the ever challenging albums from the Brainstorm Artists boutique label, but not liking their strident individuality. Pray Naked? That must mean something dirty. Three Indian-looking fellows on the front holding a shrine-like photo of lead singer Mike Roe? Something’s very wrong here.
Pray Naked is one of the great rock albums. It starts with a Zeplesque blues rocker in “Woody,” trades in Byrdsy pop on “Phony Eyes” and “Happy Roy,” goes all jam-tastic on the mostly instrumental once-title track, gets slightly dirge-like on the closing “Self-Made Trap” and at no point on the recording have you the urge to skip around. The gorgeous pop ballad “The Rain Kept Falling In Love” alone makes the album worth the price of ownership, which makes the story of the album that much more frustrating.
Pray Naked would have, could have and should have been, but wasn’t. Okay, so the theological benchmarks for lyrical content weren’t all up front, and the argument that it would be hard to sell to Christian radio is valid, I guess. But the vilification of art among the faiths is troubling. We live in a world where sculpture is seen by some as miscalculated and wrong, but rather than aspiring to create our own and raise the stakes of possibilities, we insist theirs be blown up, thrown on the bonfire or otherwise ignored. Yes, the secular world has missed out on great music sold under the CCM banner, but the Christian world has disregarded music that actually extols similar virtues, but because it was under “their” tent and not “our” tent, the value of the content is nullified.
So, Brian Wilson’s “teenage symphonies to God” must have meant some other god. “Take Me To The River,” when sung by Rev. Al Green is about a sort of baptism, but when sung by just plain Al Green is not and is strictly sexual metaphor, and when it is sung by David Byrne, it’s somehow offensive – same lyrics, but the singer changes the song by the act of singing it? One doesn’t have to accept ideas that are antithetical to one’s own belief structure, but it might be nice if we could at least be rational and put those ideas to our own personal battery of tests. They might pass, but to get that far, we’ll have to allow ourselves the freedom to scrutinize. The world is full of very specialized tents, but one big wind can knock them all down just the same.
If Pray Naked wasn’t relegated to this sort of thing, it would have been huge. But for right now, if you ever get a chance at purchasing it, ask for it by name.
21. This Train – Mimes Of The Old West (1998): I was a skeptic. The previous This Train album, You’re Soaking In It was so good, it was going to be hard sailing to make a better one. Plus, Beki Hemingway was gone from the band and her dynamic voice was to be sorely missed. With that in mind, Mimes Of The Old West still makes you shout “oh yeah” and “yee haw.”
The best part about the band is that they’re not afraid to be funny, and the simile of a mime holding their own in the dirty old west, while pushing the concept of a person of faith in a faithless world, also provides hilarious lines. Beki’s one appearance on the album is on “We’re Going Nowhere,” recounting all the manner in which This Train, as an entity, hasn’t made the grade but they keep plugging away. “One hit wonders laugh at us ’cause at least they had a hit.”
It’s not all yuks though, and several of the songs center around relationships on the verge of breaking down, and the scenarios are just vague enough to get the listener wondering if it is a conversation between two people, or a conversation between God and humanity, and that way of being able to see two ideas in a single song, without the ickiness of a “Jesus is my girlfriend” double entendre, works very well. And when you thought things were getting too sedate, out pops the rippingest, rockingest cover of Hank Williams’ “I Saw The Light” you’ve ever heard.
For more on the story: I had a chance to ask frontman and all-things-This Train, Mark Robertson, some questions about the album.
The album leaned a lot more toward the eclectic side – the pop/punk was still there, but there was the straight-up cowpunk, the surf rock and other sounds. Was that intentional or was the band just subconsciously filtering a lot of sounds at the time?
MR: I’ve never been too good at self editing! This Train was the first band I’ve ever been in that was MY band… I just wanted to get my way for once and try everything that was in my head, and Jordan and Cobra Joe were very sympathetic to that. Jordan and I had a studio together and we are both very into experimenting. So that record was kinda all over the map, but I was still dialing in what I thought the band could be. We hadn’t quite distilled it all into a ‘sound’ yet. We were just doing whatever felt good for it’s own sake, I guess.
Except for one song, Beki wasn’t on the album (pursuing the solo career, I believe). Ashley Cleveland stepped in for a couple tunes. What was it like working with her, and what was the band dynamic now like with these changes?
Beki’s departure came about for many reasons, none of which were hostile. The main two reasons were, Beki and I were were coming from a very different place as writers, which was hard because I love her songs, her voice and all that. I just didn’t feel like it was fitting with where I wanted This Train to go. We were getting into a much more straight ahead cowpunk kinda thing. The other main reason was we were about to start doing tons of touring and it was simply easier to throw three dudes into one hotel room to save money than to have to worry about the ins-and-outs of having a married woman on tour with three single guys. People already thought Beki and I were a couple at times, but she’s been happily married to our dear friend Randy Kerkman for years. Beki and I have worked together since then and I hang out with her or Randy or both every time I go to Denver.
I think my manager suggested Ashley. We had become friends through Rich Mullins, did some touring together and I had worked some with her husband, Kenny Greenberg, so it wasn’t like she showed up out of nowhere. I went with the idea because Beki is an amazing singer and I was missing the female voice for some of the tunes. The only way to replace Beki on record was to get a very very good singer, which of course, Ashley is. That process was a bit hit and miss because Ashley is a lead singer, very stylized, and Beki started out as a backup singer, then became an amazing lead singer along the way, but Beki is super great at blending with me. I have a strange voice and it isn’t always easy to blend with. I would still jump at the chance to sing with Beki again one day if we could ever work it out.
As far as the band dynamic went, I think it was more streamlined as a 3 piece; more kinetic, and probably more punk rock, though I missed Beki’s voice a lot. I think we used Riki Michelle on the Emperors New Band record after Mimes. She did a great job too, but Beki will always be my favorite person to sing with.
Where does This Train fit with the work you’ve done over the years (Under Midnight, the Ragamuffins, etc.)?
Hmm, I don’t think it does fit in with those things! Up to that point, I had played bass for a lot of bands, but I was never the singer or writer, except for Under Midnight. Me and another guy co-wrote and co-sang all those tunes, but UM is so off the map compared to anything else I’ve ever done it’s tough to even count that as a part of the overall experience, more of a strange side route I took for awhile. Actually, I haven’t heard the UM or Generation stuff in years. Wonder where I could find that stuff. Was it any good? I seem to remember it being a good attempt, but not really all that great. My role with the Ragamuffins is like the stuff I would write for This Train, minus the rockabilly and punk aspects. The Paul Westerberg influenced stuff is what goes to the Rags, and Rick has been the primary singer since Rich (Mullins) died. Rick is a vastly superior singer, so I don’t mind just being the bass player.
This Train was very special to me. It was the most honest and satisfying work I had done up to that point, and it was great therapy. I have some demos set aside for TT should we ever work out our schedules to record again, we’ll see. Right now, I co-own a studio (Stainless Sound, in Nashville), write lots of music for TV and film and play bass for Th’ Legendary ShackShakers, The Dirt Daubers and Joshua Black Wilkins. I still produce records for other artists and am actually making my first documentary film, so life is pretty busy as it is.
Next time, and hopefully on time, we predict shaded strangers on a circle slide, turning from an audible sigh to a lost civilization. Don’t act like you don’t know what I’m talking about. Be here!