David Fleming
It's All Academic   www.davidflemingsite.com   
Day 364: Rubber Rodeo (Before I Go Away)

July 1, 2024

Rubber Rodeo came and went in the blink of an eye. Basically two full albums in the mid 1980s with a hint of notoriety because of "Anywhere With You," off of 1984's Scenic Views. That album also presented "Before I Go Away," a sulky little number with breathy vocals, heavy reliance on synthesizer, some excellent pedal steel guitar, and a massive tempo change between verses and choruses that made it very notable.

In "Before I Go Away," Trish Milliken, Rubber Rodeo's lead singer, laments "the many things to do and so many things to say before I go away." This sentiment is encased in a wonderful little narrative of "all the friends are married/all the friends are gone/and soon I will be leaving/it's time for moving on," but not before enjoying "the whiskey and the smile." There's something poetically wistful in the sentiment Milliken expresses that haunts similarly to Aimee Mann's brilliant vocals (and lyrics) in "Coming Up Close," released just two years after Scenic Views, this idea that doomed lovers only have so much time together and can't possible express all they want. For Rubber Rodeo, it's "so we'll sit in the silence/and watch the sun go down/and wonder if we'll ever meet again on higher ground."

I wonder, though, if "Before I Go Away" became the albatross song as the band wound down (apparently Milliken was married to guitarist Bob Holmes, a marriage that dissolved not too long after the band), all of them wishing they had been able to produce more music before they went away. It's a feeling I know all too well as I stare down one last entry for this song series. I am sitting here wishing I had taken the opportunity to share so many things to say before I go away.

"Desperadoes Under The Eaves" was a fantastic choice for my Zevon entry, but how could I not find the chance to cite the "should have done/should have done we all sigh" from "Accidentally Like A Martyr" (one of the most tortured, and thus one of the best, song titles ever)?

This series is about done and how have I not acknowledged the brilliance that is "(Nothing But) Flowers" by Talking Heads before I go away. I wrote about great parentheticals in titles early in this series, but there is nothing but ironic beauty in that usage for a song where the deranged singer goes "if this is paradise/I wish I had a lawnmower."

Or, should I have waited for more recent James' releases than Living In Extraordinary Times, so that I could entice someone to check out the beautiful sentiment of this year's "Better With You," where "two streams pool into each other/two streams flow into one river." Now, that is something to make the world a better place before I go away.

Similarly, I used Lucinda Williams too soon, losing the chance to venerate 2023's "Where The Song Will Find Me," and for me one of the perfect moments ever in a song where Williams' chorus ends with "they'll come up behind me without making a sound/without making a sound," and we are immediately blessed with one of the most remarkable guitar solos, a sound that truly sends shivers down my spine. See, I really should have done that before I go away.

Just as puzzling are some of the artists who won't make this list, often with a specific song earmarked, but never quite crystallized into a discussion. Somewhere David Knopfler is bemoaning that the little brother again got overlooked here. I couldn't find 750 words to say about "Karla Faye" before I go away? No way to squeeze in The Motels' "Suddenly Last Summer" before I go away? No Simple Minds, not even "Waterfront" with its prominent place on the best mixed cassette I ever made? Not even that before you go away, Fleming?

I know I cheat a bit here, but I could identify hundreds of songs I wish I had discussed before I go away, but the truth of the matter is that so many entries came with some difficulty. I may have so many things I wished I said before I go away, but to say them well, well, that is a different story, one best shared with a whiskey and a smile. Thanks, Trish and company for providing me that fantastic image.

Rubber Rodeo. "Before I Go Away." Scenic Views. Eat Records, 1984. Link here.

Day 363: Electric Light Orchestra "Mr. Blue Sky"

Day 365: Berlin "No More Words"

See complete list here.