I used to travel for work, and now that I don’t anymore, I miss it. I loved life on the road, exploring places that were new to me or getting reacquainted with familiar ones, and spending car time with the music on. When I travel today, my road music usually comes from CDs or tapes. I’ve got a vast collection of specially made car tapes, all of which are getting old; I haven’t had a tape deck connected to the stereo for several years (although I own two that still work). I don’t listen to much radio when I travel, sad to say, because so many music stations are so predictable and dull. As a result, I can’t remember the last time I heard a song out of the blue that I’d completely forgotten about. Sometimes I forget that certain songs are on my laptop music stash or in my CD library, but that’s not the same thing, really. There’s magic in the random, unexpected, and serendipitous reappearance on the radio of something previously lost. And although it doesn’t happen anymore, it used to happen a lot.
But during my more serious traveling days, in the 1990s and again in the middle of the ’00s, I would occasionally surf the radio dial, often for sports talk, but occasionally for music. And sometimes, if I was going to be in some town for three or four days, I’d seek out the local classic-rock station. There was a pretty good one in Kansas City, for example. I remember heading out of town on my way home one morning, just on the verge of losing the station somewhere on Interstate 35, when they completely blew my mind with this.
Apart from “Silver, Blue and Gold,” nothing else Bad Company did affected me much at the time it was on the radio. “Can’t Get Enough” is one of the signature songs from the fall of 1974, a favorite season of mine, and I like their sloppy version of “Young Blood” from 1976, but during the summer of 1980, WXXQ played “Bad Company” so often that it was years before I could stand to hear it again. Apart from those songs, Bad Company didn’t leave an impression. But like other bands I can name—Fleetwood Mac springs to mind first—I developed a healthy appreciation for them after a few years had passed. A lot of their stuff sounds extremely good to me now, especially “Burnin’ Sky,” “Shooting Star,” “Ready for Love,” and “Smokin’ 45,” a song recorded while the band was making Straight Shooter in 1974, but unreleased until 1999.
“Silver, Blue and Gold” is from 1976, although I am pretty sure I didn’t hear it then. It’s more likely that I picked it up around 1980, in college, maybe when we cloned the old Lee Abrams Superstars format. It’s the sort of thing I was genetically inclined to dig in those days, but after I left school, I managed to bury it entirely in my subconscious, where it stayed until that day a dozen or more years later on the Interstate, somewhere in Missouri. And ever since, it’s been one of the songs I need to have along on the ride, wherever the ride takes me, as long as it takes to get wherever we’re going.
Recommended Reading: At 30 Days Out, an interesting selection of singles on Apple Records, including a Beatles hit that went to Number 12 in the States, but has never been anthologized anywhere in the 28 years since it charted.