This is a series I’ve always been a little ambivalent about. Even when it was running at Jefitoblog — a site that still carried the faint odor of its LiveJournal beginnings — it felt a little too personal. Here, as just another strand in the Popdose spiderweb, it seems to make even less sense. On the other hand, if I didn’t occasionally stop to take a break from making fun of old records, I’d go crazy.
We love music because it moves us — especially music that holds memories. And nothing builds memories like doomed teenage relationships with the German teacher’s niece, which is why I’m here today to talk to you, for what is the first and most likely only time, about Poco.
They were never one of the genre’s best-selling groups, but Poco helped lay the foundation for the wildly popular country/rock sound that helped bands like the Eagles sell millions of records in the ’70s. Just ask Randy Meisner, who helped found Poco, quit the group after its first album, and went on to help found the Eagles — or ask Timothy B. Schmit, who replaced Meisner in Poco…and then went on to replace him again in the Eagles.
Poco’s influence was always larger than its commercial profile, and band members came and went almost constantly, but the group still managed to release 18 albums between 1969 and 1984, at which point the ’80s finally seemed to catch up with them. Critics never stopped waxing rhapsodic about the band’s early material, or lamenting its lost potential, which is why 1989’s reunion of the original members — a version of the group that had, ironically, never managed to record together — was greeted warmly by the press.
Somewhat surprisingly, the reunion album (titled Legacy) was even sort of a hit. This had more to do with its slick ’80s production (handled mainly by David Cole — yes, that David Cole) than any real pent-up demand for new Poco product, but the guys must have enjoyed hearing “Call It Love” on the radio, even if they didn’t write it.
Either way, I enjoyed hearing it. I lived about two miles from my high school, and made the walk to and from home with a Walkman clipped to my waistband — and even if I never found the rest of Legacy to be much more than reheated corn, I played “Call It Love” so many times that I can’t hear two seconds of those ringing guitars without flashing back to those walks, and afternoons in the dugout with Valerie.
As I said, Valerie was the German teacher’s niece — but she didn’t share her uncle’s affection for dialects, or for learning in general, as far as I could tell. She had a lot more in common with her mom, whose pot dealer was Valerie’s boyfriend. Oh, did I mention she had a boyfriend? One who sold drugs, and probably could have made short work out of a mulleted weakling who mooned over adult contemporary Poco ballads in his spare time?
Looking back, I’m 99% certain that Valerie looked at me the way a kitten looks at a ball of yarn. She just wanted no-strings fun, and she must have seen my insistence on an actual relationship as the unintentionally humorous act of breathtaking stupidity that it was. I thought I was being chivalrous, but what I should have known — and what I ultimately learned from all this, thanks, Valerie — is that chivalry is wasted on a girl whose idea of romance is hiding gay porn in your locker.
There’s a happy ending to this story — before the end of the year, I’d moved on, to a girl whose first words to me were “Why are you dating that slut?” — but since it leads into another doomed teenage relationship, I’ll just end here, and leave you with the “Call It Love” video.
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