Music/Popular Culture

30-Day Song Challenge, day 7: a song that reminds me of a certain event

Verily, it was one of the best days of my entire college career. It was near the end of spring semester of my senior year. That evening my fraternity (Theta Chi, Gamma Omicron chapter) was having its annual Go to Hell Party, which was our big pre-finals blowout. As it happened, the finals of the campus intramural softball tournament were held the same day, and after all those years of futility the Big Red had made it to a championship game (versus a very good team from either the law or business school, can’t recall which).

I had always been involved in just about every intramural sport offered (literally, one day I had four games in four different sports) but since ΘX had never been much of an athletic powerhouse I’d never won a t-shirt.

We fell behind early, but chipped away, and I came to the plate with one out, runners on 2nd and 3rd, down a run, in the bottom of the 6th and final inning. Took a strike (amazing the things you remember, huh?) Then, figuring that I was by god going to get the tying run home no matter what, I swung so hard I nearly came out of my shoes. And whiffed completely. Which is funny now, but not so much then. Finally, with two strikes, I dropped a blooper into right, scoring the tying and winning runs in dramatic walk-off fashion. If we got all my brothers together right now, somebody would be sure to make a joke about my “frozen rope” to win the game. Good times.

For some reason, we had all become huge fans of the German New Wave band Trio, who became semi-famous when their song “Da Da Da” was featured in a Volkswagen commercial. Seriously, this band all the rage around the house. Improbable, I know, but we were wild and free college kids who loved music and alcohol.

I will remember that day, the game, Go to Hell/TrioFest at Tanglewood, for the rest of my life. (I still have both the campus championship t-shirt and the TrioFest t-shirt around here somewhere.) It was a moment of golden, irrelevant glory, the stuff that youth is made of. So, for day 7 of the 30-Day Song Challenge, this song is dedicated to the brothers of Theta Chi at Wake Forest University.

3 replies »

  1. This tune reminds me of the summer after I graduated college. I was living with a friend back home in Eden, NC in a godawful shack out in the country- the band had collapsed after losing a recording contract in support of me and my education – couldn’t stand my education, myself, my life.

    I’d play it over and over while I sat on the porch of our shack drinking beer, smoking Kents and looking across the road into a stand of trees as if I expected some answer to walk out of them.

    The Beach Boys kept me from doing something stupid.

    And a school principal called in August and offered me a teaching position. Things turned out okay…I found something else I loved doing….

  2. When I was in high school, most of my friends were in 4-H. We’d drive across three counties for a good party or someone’s county fair. We’d also get together at Jr. Leader workshops, like the original one at Hiram College in ’77 where Ron McCummins made “Surfin’ USA” our theme song. He jumped up in the middle of the cafeteria and started singing it while “surfing” on a chair. Almost immediately we all joined in.

    Fast forward two years to the Stark County Fair in 1979. A bunch of friends came in for the dance on Saturday night. It was held in a parking lot near the 4-H building with a few picnic tables around the edges. Oh, and a BIG ol’ John Deere tractor (that cost $84K back then).

    The DJ threw on Surfin’ USA and we screamed and RAN for the picnic tables. The families eating at the tables jumped up and ran with their food just before we climbed up and started surfing. Then some of the guys got the brilliant idea of climbing from the picnic table to the wheels of the John Deere. Then to the hood. Then the roof.

    There were no cell phone cameras back then, no ubiquitous video cameras. This was not memorialized for posterity. Except in the minds of those who were there. That fall we started peeling off for college–but it was a great last hurrah. This is for Ron, Wes, Ray, Tim, Vince, Shari, Laurel, Elaine, and all the other NEO surfers.