A month of college radio! The Icicle Works, “Understanding Jane” (1987)

2017-09-01 12.45.38

(Above: My Intro to Radio book from when I was a student is in my college office. Hopefully there’s been an update to this edition since then.)

This morning I got an unusual notification from Facebook.  It was in the “memories” section, which highlights posts made on this date over the last few years.  I didn’t become a part of Facebook until late 2008, so it’s very rare to see a post with a heading calling out a bigger anniversary than nine years. But today’s was 30.

30 years ago

Huh.  Those three decades went by in a hurry. But yeah, it would be 30 years ago this week that I started at Lewis, took a class called “Introduction to Radio,” and started on a really fantastic crazy ride that hasn’t yet come to a complete stop.

I’ve touched often on the subject of college radio in this blog.  It’s very important to me.  I was a college radio adviser a year and a half before I was a college instructor, and mentored students at St. Xavier University in Chicago long before that.  My time in college radio was extremely formative. I’m in the middle of a project that will likely take the next year to complete – documenting the history of Lewis’ WLRA, which turns 50 in 2019 just like I will. So it seemed appropriate that this anniversary of, frankly, falling into a career in college that I didn’t plan to do should be celebrated this month.  Some posts will have airchecks, some will have photos, and all will have some songs that remind me of working on the left end of the dial.  Enjoy!

One of the songs that comes to mind from the fall of 1987 was by an English band that had one hit in the US – and this wasn’t it.  “Whisper to a Scream” nudged the charts in 1984, and the rest of the band’s successes – albeit minor – were in the UK.  A few singles, including this one, charted in 1986 and were included on one of my favorite album titles of the 80s, If You Want To Defeat Your Enemy, Sing His Song.

We had the album in the radio station at WLRA.  I wasn’t familiar with the band at all, and, like many other newbie DJs, took the recommendation of the music department when it came to selecting songs from such an album.  You look at the album, find the track that’s circled in black marker, and play it.  That was this one.  I dropped the needle on it, and – whoa.  Volume up.  This found its way into a number of my radio shows in the fall of 1987, and there wasn’t even a Jane around in my life. (Nor has there ever been, now that I think about it). From the screamin’ gee-tar intro to the clever wink-and-a-nod lyrics (“one night at the pool hall, asked her if she’d hold my cue”) to the pounding drum section in the bridge, this has all the hallmarks of a h-i-t. Yet it wasn’t to be: it never even cracked the Modern Rock charts and was largely relegated to college airplay.

See if you don’t agree that this should have been a bigger hit. You can hear “Understanding Jane” by clicking here.


One thought on “A month of college radio! The Icicle Works, “Understanding Jane” (1987)

  1. Pingback: A summer vacation soundtrack: The Billboard Hot 100, June 9, 1984 | 45 Ruminations Per Megabyte

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