That Was the Modern World

Posted: November 8, 2011 in music, Record reviews
Tags: , , , , ,

“Everywhere That I’m Not”

We tend to give decades shortcut images as they recede in our rearview mirror. The ’50s are Happy Days. The ’60s are Woodstock. The ’70s are disco. And the ’80s, my favorite decade, are shoulder pads, polo shirts, big hair, and Valley Girls.

OK, those first three are true. But not so for my favorite decade! Musically, the ’80s were much more than power pop quartets of skinny guys in skinny ties, dark sport coats, and leather jackets jangling away on their guitars.

Punk got angrier (Dead Kennedys, Black Flag). Metal got even more ridiculous (Def Leppard, Queensrÿche). Grunge, rap, electronica, and the mushy category called “alternative” got ready to invade the mainstream. Christopher Cross, Phil Collins, and Sting got 20 to life for crimes against humanity. (If only.) But today, as we launch into ’80s Week here at Run-DMSteve, I want to talk about Translator’s “Everywhere That I’m Not.”

Translator was a power pop quartet of skinny guys in skinny ties, dark sport coats, and leather jackets jangling away on their guitars. (Surprise!) They were from San Francisco. They never broke into the Top 40 like their neighbors, Romeo Void, who had a hit with “A Girl in Trouble (Is a Temporary Thing).” They never found themselves in regular rotation on MTV like their skinny guys/skinny ties cousins in Seattle, The Allies (“Emma Peel”). But they made a huge impact on the college circuit with “Everywhere That I’m Not,” a downbeat yet driving song about seeing your lost love everywhere you go:

I thought I saw you, out on the avenue
But I guess it was just someone
Who looked a lot like I remember you do

The relentless guitars suggest The Romantics and R.E.M. while producing an undercurrent of despair that neither of those outfits could muster. But what really makes this record for me is the singer, reminding himself that of course that’s not his old flame and leading us into the best sing-along chorus since the Messiah:

’Cause that’s impossible, that’s im-
That’s impossible, that’s im-poss
That’s impossible, that’s im-poss-ible

’Cause you’re in New York but I’m not
You’re in Tokyo but I’m not
You’re in Nova Scotia but I’m not

[whole band now]

Yeah, you’re everywhere that I’m not
Yeah, you’re everywhere that I’m not


I’m not, I’m not, I’m not, I’m not

As far as I’m concerned, Translator has only one other song in their catalog, “Un-alone.” (The official videos of these songs are now 30 years old. You can find them on YouTube, but you wouldn’t want to.) This may sound like a harsh judgment, but consider the thousands of bands that form around the globe every day. How many produce even one memorable song? Translator has two and I love them both. That’s not bad for four guys with petroleum-based styling products in their hair.

  1. Barb says:

    I could fill a recyle bin with memorable moments from the 80s, but it all comes down to three little words: Gang of Four.

  2. Laurel says:

    I have a lot to learn from Run-DMSteve in ’80s Week since my ’80s music appears to have happened on another planet.

    • Run-DMSteve says:

      Maybe I can draw some kind of parallel between your world and mine. I like recorders, harpsichords, violas, bodhrans, stone knives, and bear skins as much as the next guy!

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