B-sides: Fly Like An Eagle

Earlier this month we got a suspicious-looking “California Middle Class Tax Refund” debit card in the mail, which we were not expecting and looked an awful lot like a scam, but turns out was real! Apparently it’s some kind of inflation relief payment to balance out the ridiculous cost of living in California? If being middle class means getting the occasional random debit card in the mail, I’ll take it. 🤷🏻‍♀️

So, what to do with that extra cashhhhh?

….buy records, duh.

I ended up at Stranded Records on a very rainy Sunday last weekend, picking out a few new albums for the collection: Mike Bloomfield’s It’s Not Killing Me, the eponymous Kate & Anna McGarrigle, and ol’ Steve Miller Band’s Fly Like An Eagle. The latter is going to be our B-side of the day, because that’s what I felt like listening to when I got home:

Choose ur Steve Miller: Chicago blues, San Francisco psychedelia, or 1970s space rock?
  1. “Take the Money and Run” – 2:50
  2. “Rock’n Me” – 3:05
  3. “You Send Me” – 2:42
  4. “Blue Odyssey” – 1:00
  5. “Sweet Maree” – 4:16
  6. “The Window” – 4:19

My nostalgic obsession with Steve Miller Band is thanks to the famous Greatest Hits 1974-78 album, which is one of the earliest CDs I can remember listening to as a kid. I must’ve found it in my dad’s collection, been intrigued by that Blucifer-looking mustang on the cover and put it on repeat for a good…five years? Anyway, the first song on this B-side, “Take the Money and Run”, has a prime spot on the greatest hits album, and listening to it takes me right back to 5th grade weekends hanging out in the garage with my best friend Bondy, seeing who could go fastest on the treadmill while blasting this song from the stereo. “Take the Money and Run” was and will always be a banger, and you can’t convince me otherwise.

“Rock’n Me” is right there in the same boat, a Greatest Hit that has accompanied many a road trip since those early days. Don’t ask me what the song is about—making money? making love? making money for love?—but I’m always down for lyrics that list a bunch of cities (“PhilaDELphia Atlanta LA!”) in seemingly random order. (“Noooorthern California” girls I don’t associate with being “warm” but sure, whatever you say Steve!)

“You Send Me” is a Sam Cooke cover and it’s lovely. First off, I am tickled to learn that this phrase dates back to at least 1957. It, dare I say?, sends me. The SMB version is also (according to a quick Google search) one of the earliest songs to use sampling, even though I don’t really see the purpose of injecting some questionable Cheech & Chong dialogue into what is otherwise a very nice song introduction. Side note: the Sam Cooke documentary on Netflix was a very interesting watch.

Lest we think Steve M. is venturing too far into radio hits on this side of the record, “Blue Odyssey” goes pure space rock and “Sweet Maree” bring us back to his roots in the blues. I hadn’t heard this one and I think it’s a highlight of the B-side: love that interlude with the ambling harmonica and lead guitar! “The Window” is pretty bluesy too, maybe influenced by a late-60s SF acid trip or two. It has kinda cringey lyrics, and that Miller melisma gets kinda old after a while, but it’s a decent album closer.

Anyway, looking at the track listing, I prefer the B-side to the A-side. “Fly Like An Eagle” is a classic, sure, but I’ll never not be able to associate it with USPS commercials. And I was never really a fan of “Dance, Dance, Dance”. I’m realizing now it’s kind of silly that I don’t have the Greatest Hits album on vinyl, since it’s still one of my favorites. But this album (and the B-side alone) definitely fills that gap until I can find it.

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