At a certain point of the '80s - round about 1984, come to think of it - the only place to hear music that didn't sound like Madonna, Def Leppard or Huey Lewis & the News was college radio. I mean, it's really just that simple. One didn't stand a chance as a resident of almost any locale throughout small-town and suburban America of hearing R.E.M. or The Replacements at that point unless someone in a nearby social circle was in college or somehow otherwise linked to independent, underground music. It probably won't surprise you if you're a longtime or even occasional visitor to this site that I didn't happen to be lucky enough to be in that small, fortunate category at that time. Sadly, I'm not even certain I heard the term college rock until sometime during the latter half of the '80s, and I'd imagine it took me a couple of years after that to even listen to any music from that evolving genre. I shake my head even as I type such an embarrassing, cringe-worthy admission, but I do try to be honest and humble about my status as a pretty damn slow learner about certain things.
Anyway, I'll dispense with the lamentations now to focus on a piece of music I encountered this week (thanks, SiriusXM's The Loft) that I would have given anything to have known about in 1984 - or even 1989, for that matter. Connecticut jangle pop band Miracle Legion even received some modest MTV airplay, I hear (hey, my folks didn't even have cable until 1987 - take a moment to weep for me if you must), of its brilliant early alternative single "The Backyard." I actually have a literal if small burning pit in my stomach thinking about all the years I've missed out on hearing this masterpiece, which not only presents one of the greatest examinations of childhood nostalgia in rock music history ("The world was so big and I was so small, and your voice was always the loudest of all") but also perfects the chiming guitars of jangle pop years before these great things were even officially acknowledged. Even if you only occasionally partake of guitar pop in your daily listening activities, please do the universe a favor and make room in your life for this song, this band and the many others you may not even know about yet.
- Sample or download "The Backyard" here.
- Top College Rock Pop Songs of the '80s
- Top '80s Songs of The Replacements
- Top R.E.M. Songs of the '80s
Album Cover Image Courtesy of Rough Trade Records