Throwing yourself into college radio and the music that has its most welcoming home on the left end of the dial can make you feel as if you’re in an alternative musical universe. It’s not just that you wind up listening to completely different stuff that many of your contemporaries, often baffled over their inability to understand that listening to, to use an example from my era, a hearing a new Husker Du record is a far superior experience compared to listening to the same Led Zeppelin album side played for the thousandth time. It’s that the music you love and embrace swamps out the rest of it and starts to feel predominant in the culture. Bolstered by friends who key into the same songs that you do, it can be strange to think of Fergie selling out arenas while Emmy the Great plays clubs. You expect “Drink Before the War” to be the song that all the women on American Idol want to sign, although the judges warn them its too iconic and they’ll never be able to live up to Sinead O’Connor’s original in the public’s perception. Why doesn’t everyone understand that Too Much Joy reference?
Guadalcanal Diary’s “Always Saturday” is one of those songs that I have to occasionally remind myself is largely unknown. It was the lead single off the Georgia band’s final album, 1989’s Flip-Flop. We weren’t even playing the album at our station until well after its release, the album mysteriously not being serviced to us until the Program Director repeatedly asked for a copy to be sent. I remember him buying the album note-unheard at the Appleton Exclusive Company weeks before a vinyl copy found its rightful place in the 90FM rotation. (He also bought Lou Reed’s New York and The Replacements’ Don’t Tell A Soul from the new music section on that trip. That’s a good record store outing.)
I don’t remember the album taking off for us at the time. The spring and early summer of 1989 was an especially fruitful time for great music, and a Guadalcanal Diary album could easily get bypassed. That song quickly became a staple, though, at least among my tribe. We debated the merits of its oddly unsettling video (which we barely ever saw since it was usually relegated to the closing stretch of the second sixty of 120 Minutes) and used it to kick off party mix tapes. I have a distant, fond memory of toting a boom box with us on an excursion to our college town’s beloved soft serve emporium on a perfect spring day so we could blare the song at top volume during our extended stay in line. Naturally, we did that sort of expecting that everyone around us would love the song as much as we did.
(Disclaimer: While some Guadalcanal Diary music is readily available for purchase, at least electronically, my cursory research indicates that Flip-Flop is totally out of print. This MP3 is posted here with that understanding. If anyone with due authority tells me to do so, I’ll remove it from the Interweb. Besides the attainable Guadalcanal Diary music noted above, you could always buy the movie, I suppose.)