Keep Everybody Together…

I occasionally have this recollection from my younger days:

It’s 1980. My mom has gotten remarried and our house has expanded from her, my younger brother and I, with the addition of a stepdad and two stepbrothers. This is creating all kinds of complications for all of us, but could be said to be going reasonably well. I’ll always give my mom and Bill due credit for this, because they tried very very hard to assure that it did. Not the easiest thing when you combine four boys, age 13 – 16. I mean — there’s the potential for a very very bad version of the Brady Bunch. Very bad.

Fortunately, I had Styx. And by “had” I mean had tickets to see Styx on their “Paradise Theater” tour. Oh yes. In Evansville, IN, an hour away.
Me and my best friend John were going to go and it was going to be awesome. This was going to be, like, my 3rd arena-rock concert ever. Mom was going to take us, drop us off, and then pick us up at the end of the show, all the while hoping (correctly) that the incredible stench of weed rolling off of us was not due to us actually smoking weed.
Well, stop the presses —

Remember the new marriage? The new family? In the interest of keeping things fair, it was decided that all the kids should get to go. And get to bring a friend.

Wha?! Nobody else even liked Styx. Maybe not even my best friend John. Anyway, so be it. We went from me and a friend getting shuttled by my mom, to a vanload of eight boys, fighting over the stereo, with Mom and Bill up front, lucky in love.
All I remember about the show is that it began with Dennis DeYoung dressed as a janitor, sweeping the stage. It was great, I’m sure.
Afterwards, we had arranged for all of us to “camp out” in the basement of mine and chris’ Aunt and Uncle, who lived in Evansville, and that is what I’m trying to get around to, the thing that comes back to me somewhat often.

In that basement, it was a Lord of the Flies version of “who owns the record player.” And the Jeffries boys were totally losing. In fact, the new stepbrothers were exercising perfect domination with a “live” REO Speedwagon album. This is before Hi Infidelity owned FM radio, mind you. I knew who they were, in name only, I’d say. I don’t even know where they got the record, since we were at somebody else’s house.

The thing I remember — and it drove me stark-raving mad at the time — is that these Styx-unappreciating infidels had:
  1. Gotten to see Styx, a Big Rock Show, which I had had to jockey a variety of ways to be allowed to go to. In another city, mind you.
  2. Didn’t care, having seemingly zero appreciation for the AWESOMENESS of STYX.
  3. Were ruining the afterglow by making us all listen to REO Speedwagon.

And here’s the part that has really become, after all these years, the funniest thing to remember: They weren’t just playing REO Speedwagon, or just a particular album by REO Speedwagon. Or barely even a particular song.

For some reason, they were obsessed with this talking intro to REO’s at-that-time biggest hit, “Ridin’ the Storm Out.” Over and over, they would lift the needle, and back the record up to Kevin Cronin saying “You gotta keep everybody together, keep everybody warm, and keep RIDIN’ THE STORM OUT.” which was followed by this air-raid siren sound leading into the song and then — needle lifts, maniacal laughter from by new stepbrothers and friends — and then — Kevin Cronin saying “keep everybody together, keep everybody warm, and keep RIDIN’ THE STORM OUT.” which was followed by this air-raid siren sound leading into the song and then — needle lifts, maniacal laughter from by new stepbrothers and friends — and then — etc. etc. etc.

In fact, it’s a lot like this.

I was some combination of puzzled and deeply irritated. I didn’t know how to be furious yet. I did hate that this was happening and couldn’t figure out how MY Styx odyssey had turned into this cacophony of lesser rock. In the basement of MY Aunt and Uncle, even.
All these years later, it’s more of a fond memory — albeit a slightly masochistic one — to keep. I don’t really hold it against my stepbrothers (much), and I’m left with this snippet of classic rock, this Kevin Cronin intro.

Oddly, it’s never left me. And lately, I’ve actually been trying to track it down. I want to see how close my recollection of the words is. They’re pretty close based on this search and this search — but I can’t seem to find the infamous album. It’s not “You Get What You Play For,” although I would have BET MONEY that it was. At least it’s not the digital version.
I do expect to know where it came from probably within an hour of posting this. Thanks, Internet! Thanks readers! Just remember: “…keep everybody together, keep everybody warm, and keep RIDIN’ THE STORM OUT.”

0 Replies to “Keep Everybody Together…”

  1. A little more context please. I know that is the track before "Ridin' The Storm Out," and perhaps you are suggesting that the monologue is contained within that track, but I don't find that to be true, at least on the CD version..

  2. Well, this song harkens back to their very first (pre-Kevin Cronin) disc in 1971. This was before the power ballads and the multiplatinum, syrupy rock. The era of the nondescript midwestern cruisin stuff. None of the flash and bombast of the mondo pretend-Anglo Styx (although one understands how Styx put stars in many young, impressionable eyes). So I guess the context or intent was to summon up a piece of serviceable rock from the hinterlands rather than to shed light on the latter day Kevin Cronin REO live.

    Great post, btw.

    Heard if from a friend who

    heard it from a friend

    who …

    Heard that you been foolin' with an unresolved Styx fixation.

  3. thanks for your comments! who is ya, btw?

    nice observations; i like the term "nondescript midwestern cruisin." But are you referring to those early 70s days or the later arena rock times?

    I think the earlier.. I like the live records from those years.. (not talking REO here).. when you kind of couldn't tell just "how famous" a band was.. a good example is the Pat Travers Band's "Live! Go for what you know!" which just blows doors. And you'd think they were rock gods.. but they never were in commercial terms, I guess..

    PS: I have an unwavering devotion to glimmers of the Styx catalog, most specifically to "The Grand Illusion" and "Pieces of Eight," it's true. I felt that when Styx got it right, they were magical. Kind of literally, in that "pretend-Anglo" runes/stonehenge kind of way.

  4. Classic rock live-album banter. I think you're onto something. I can think of dozens of great ones. There needs to be an online compendium w/analysis. Of course it probalby already exists.

    This one gets me every time: "We're going to take a 15 minute break and come back with electric music and boogie." Sigh.

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