Every college radio station has its own set of “hits,” those songs that barely nuzzled the public consciousness elsewhere, but absolutely dominated the airwaves stewarded by one particular set of junior broadcasters hovering around the age of twenty. “Onion Skin” was the lead single from Australian band Boom Crash Opera’s sophomore album, These Here Are Crazy Times. It was hardly unknown away from my happy bunker of music snobbery in the heart of the Upper Midwest, charting in the Top 10 on the commercial modern rock charts and making a similarly strong impression on the corresponding “Top Cuts” tally built by CMJ from the reports of student-run stations. Plenty of people besides me and my cohorts liked this song.
And yet “Onion Skin” is unmistakably one of those tracks that stands for a big, bold version of “us” from my college radio years. It’s representative of what set us apart from our fellow students who’d never set foot in the radio station or even spend much time in the local record stores, making their rare music purchases at some big box stores or plasticized mall outlets, probably when they were home on breaks. For years, “Onion Skin” had an almost guaranteed place within the bevy of mix tapes made for any of our radio station parties, and when the song spun up a robust crew was sure to rush into the living room to bounce up and down while singing along at top volume. I’d wager that upwards of eighty percent of the station staff at the time would have considered this track a favorite, and a similarly sized contingent would have been unable to name a second Boom Crash Opera song if the prompt to do so was sprung on them suddenly. What did that matter, though? We had this song. Nothing more was needed.
Listen or download –> Boom Crash Opera, “Onion Skin”
(Disclaimer: As best as I can tell, Boom Crash Opera’s These Here Are Crazy Times is out of print, at least as a physical object that can be procured from your favorite local, independently-owned record store in a manner the compensates both the proprietor of said shop and the original artist. Maybe it’s available digitally, but I have little faith any money from those purchases goes much further than the server farm. Regardless, the file is shared here with the belief that doing so causes no undue fiscal harm to any deserving parties. I do know the rules, and I will gladly, promptly remove this track from my little corner of the digital world if asked to do so by any any individual or entity with authority to make such a request.)