I used to be a roller skater. I was never a full blown roller boogie champ, but I got pretty good before I abruptly gave it up in 1982. One reason: heavy metal kids didn't roller skate. The second reason was that girls had stopped liking me. I guess I just wasn't cute and adorable anymore or maybe it was my taste in music which was shifting to only heavy metal. Whatever the reason, it wasn't any fun just going in circles without the chance of getting kissed. But that era's echoes reverberate with me from time to time.
A couple of things have conspired to make my mind wander that way again. My oldest daughter has been invited to a roller skating birthday party and I'm sure I'll lace up some skates for the first time in years. The other one was a random trip through the radio dial where I heard "I'm Allright" by Kenny Loggins. That song was one of my favorite roller rink songs. One verse was all I needed to zoom back to the past and soon all of my favorite songs were doing the hokey pokey through my mind.
So what were my favorite skating songs? I mentioned a few of them in my previous roller boogie post, but I didn't rate them or go into any great detail. This time around the rink you'll learn what made me smile and put on the extra burst of speed. Here are my top ten roller rink classics:
1. "You Shook Me All Night Long" by AC/DC. I had been a huge Kiss fan for years, but it wasn't until I discovered AC/DC that I really started to become a heavy metal fan. The roller rink could have just played dance music, but instead they went with a mixture of AOR and R&B. It was a great mix with something bound to please somebody at some point in the night. "You Shook Me All Night Long" was a fist pumping anthem that just made you want to go as fast as you could, at least until the skate cops blew their whistle and sat you down. I was usually on the bench by the time Angus's guitar solo began.
2. "Backstrokin'" by Fatback Band. You had to roller skate backwards with a pretty girl by your side for this slice of bass heavy funk.
3. "Cars" by Gary Numan. When you're skating around in a circle, you sometimes imagine you're behind the wheels of a car. Enter the electronic cool of Gary Numan and a skating classic was born. You could also pull out some robot moves to it.
4. "Coming Out" by Diana Ross. At first I thought she was singing "I'm coming up" and that was cool since I was an up and coming high school kid. Then I figured out that it was "I'm coming out" and while not as cool it was still a grooving tune - fast and funky enough at that. I didn't have a clue to the subtextural use of the song.
5. "The Tide Is High" by Blondie. I was a big Blondie fan. My room was some unholy mixture of Blondie and Kiss posters. "The Tide Is High" was such a perfect song to skate to - it was bubbly and I could take pride in knowing I had been a long time fan. It was the first time I can remember feeling some hipster pride at all of the squares just now "getting it." Just ignore the fact that Blondie had been huge for years and let me have a little bit of credit.
6. "I'm Allright" by Kenny Loggins. I liked this song so much I bought the 45. Looking back I can't really see why I liked it so much, but it spoke to me in some way or other. It might have been the goofy fifties doo-wop bridge.
7. "Her Strut" by Bob Seger & The Silver Bullet Band. This is about as hard rocking as Seger gets. What teenage corndog boy wouldn't like a song about watching a girl strut, especially with a pun like "I do respect her but..." included in the lyrics. My cousin Freddy and I spent alot of time analyzing the way girls walked back then; plus we worked on our own cool dude walking styles. We didn't really have a clue as why we should be watching the girls or wokring on our own attention getting swaggers, but our nascent idiotic ways are rather endearing, don't you think.
8. "Le Freak" by Chic. This song was at its peak when I first starting hitting the rink in 6th grade. Nobody would sit this song out. The skate floor would be one big lumpy mass of elbows askew and shaking heads. It wasn't good to fall down during it.
9. "Another One Bites The Dust" by Queen. Fitting that a song which lifted from Chic would make the list right beside them. It's a total inversion of "Good Times" lyrically while swiping the bass riff. You could almost see people light up like fireflies when the needle dropped on this song.
10. "Hungry Heart" by Bruce Springsteen. You wouldn't think an 8th grade kid would dig this song, especially not in a skating rink. But I did. There was just something about the way it sounded that meshed well with aimless rolling. It also was a good tune to skate doubles to, even if the lyrics weren't fitting.
"Same Old Lang Syne" by Dan Fogelberg. It's sentimental and sophomorish to me now, but it was a window into adult relationships when I was in junior high and the adult relationship scene didn't look too appealing. You'd skate around to that song and then tell the girl you were skating with that this would never happen to us. Two weeks later you'd be skating with a different girl and telling her the same thing.