Whither Toto, Good Sport?

A few weeks ago, I wrote about Yacht Rock. In that masters-level dissertation on one of the definitive Yacht Rock bands and two of their definitive songs, I caught myself before going off on a tangent. It’s rare for me to catch a digression, so let’s all celebrate with the digression in full:

Generations are weird things. For the most part, the people that determine the boundaries of a particular generation are full of crap. Historically, generations were supposed to be twenty years long. Hence, by some estimations, everyone born between 1946 and 1965 are Baby Boomers. By that rationale, someone who was born the year after JFK was assassinated has had the same general reference points in their life as someone who was 17-years old at the time. And that’s, obviously, utter bullshit. Recently, I’ve seen a number of social scientists shrinking the size of a generation down to a fifteen-year birth span. So in their eyes, the Baby Boom ended in 1960.

Regardless of the definition, it’s wrong. How in the world would someone born in 1958 have the same overarching life story as someone born in 1946? Let’s take a look at the definitive moments of a Baby Boomers lifetime. The JFK assassination, that great loss of innocence that ushered in the teenage years of a standard Boomer, happened when 1958-kid was five years old. My kid’s almost five years old and she doesn’t even know who the president is. The Summer of 1968, when the rest of this guys “generation” were college students protesting the Democratic National Convention, he was ten. He was fifteen years old when the Vietnam draft was suspended in 1973. How the hell can you be a Baby Boomer if you never had to worry about the draft?

So sorry, everyone born after 1955, but there is no way you are a Baby Boomer. And let’s be honest, you probably know that. You know that the Bee Gees had a bigger effect on your life than the Beatles. You probably have more in common with me than with my parents.

Lately some social scientists have started splitting the generations in half. Early Boomers and Late Boomers is now a thing. Then they try to come up with some kitschy phrase for the “left out” half of the generation, like calling the Late Boomers “The Jones Generation.”

A similar issue is now going on with Millennials. Originally, that generation was supposed to be the babies born in the nineties, but then it started creeping backward. Recently, I’ve see the standard definition of “Millennial” as being born between 1983-1997, but I’ve seen some of those designations stretch as far back as 1981 and as far forward as 2000.

And of course, now we’ve got a “Post-millennial” thing going on, which was recently defined as everyone born after 1997. Not to make you feel old or anything, but the period of time from 1997 to the present is already over the standard twenty-year gap.

And once again, the Millennial thing makes no sense. If JFK was the definitive event of the Baby Boomers, then it’s gotta be 9/11 for the Millennials, right? And can we honestly say that someone who was nineteen or twenty when the towers came down has had the same general life experience as someone who was four? The twenty year-old might remember bringing liquid through airport security, the four-year old assuredly does not. One of the political podcasts I listen to say that the definitive moment for people born after 1990 is more likely to be the financial crash of 2008 than 9/11. Hence the affinity of the under-30 set toward socialist politicians, because they see capitalism, not terrorists, as the thing that upended the tranquility of their early life. A crash, by the way, that happened six years before my daughter, technically in their “same generation,” was born.

(Oh hey, slight editing note: in that last paragraph, where I wrote “the towers came down,” I initially, subconsciously wrote it as “the wall came down.” Want to guess my generation?)

I have a friend who was born in 1981. He really doesn’t like being lumped in with Millennials. Similar to the post-1955 Baby Boomers, he wants to split that generation from the eighties and nineties in two. I’ve heard the early 1980s babies referred to as “Xennials,” which is part Gen X, part Millennial, and entirely fucking stupid. My friend prefers to be called the Oregon Trail Generation, because that’s the game they all cut their teeth on. My niece was born in 1995. If you showed her Oregon Trail, she would probably have trouble distinguishing it from Pong.

And the computer experiences of 1980s babies and 1990s babies go well beyond their favorite video games. My 1981 friend remembers floppy disks and pre-Internet days. My 1995 niece has always been able to point and click her way through the World Wide Web.

I, on the other hand, was too old for Oregon Trail and primarily remember it as a game one of the kids I babysat playing while I was in Junior High.

Wait, did we used to babysit in Junior High? That seems young. Would I leave my daughter with a thirteen year-old? Yikes. I don’t even know if I’d trust an eighteen year-old. Meh. As long as they don’t let her play Oregon Trail, it should be fine.

Interesting, I hear you saying, but what the hell does any of this have to do with Yacht Rock? I’m glad you asked.

You see, I’m from that generation that no longer exists, according to this wonderful infographic that CBS recently ran:

Image result for generation x left off list cbsnews

Aw, good old Generation X. We love the fact that y’all have forgotten about us. And that our generation appears to be shrinking by the day.

Growing up, I was barely considered a Gen Xer. One of the many, many variant explanations for where the X in Generation X came from was was because it was the tenth generation of Americans. Assuming a generation lasts twenty years, they used to describe Generation X as ending at the bicentennial in 1976.

So, being born in 1974, I always remember hearing I was closer to Generation Y (a name that ended up not sticking), and I even remember thinking at the time that that was bullshit. Because if Generation X was defined by cynicism and latchkeyism and a general understanding that the world and our parents didn’t really want us there, then sign me the fuck up. Because look at this chart of birth rates following World War II:

Image result for birth rates since world war ii

You see where that bad boy bottoms out? Early 1970s. Nobody wanted us. And we knew it.

Of course, as time’s gone on, and as we’ve had to move things around to define Millennials properly, we’ve now, rightfully, extended my generation all the way to 1980. The Generation that defied labels is now absolutely, definitively known as encompassing the years 1961, or maybe 1965, to 1980, or maybe 1975. So, meh, if you happened to be born in a random ten to twenty year span, you might be part of this generation that gets dropped off of any sort of discussion of the generations.

Politics aside, I find myself rooting really, really hard for the likes of Beto O’Rourke and Julian Castro, or maybe Nikki Haley in 2024, because they might be the only shot Generation X has of getting a president. The Baby Boom’s been in the Oval Office since 1992 (1988 if you count Veeps), and now people are already gushing over Pete Buttigieg as the first Millennial candidate. By 2028, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez will be old enough to run, and I’m pretty sure the news media has already appointed her to the presidency for the rest of time after that. Kamala Harris was born in 1964 and you just fucking know that if she wins next year, the Boomers will claim her like they did with Obama (1961).

So Generation X, it’s now or never.

So what the hell does any of this have to do with Yacht Rock?

Well, it all comes down to that early/late split of my rapidly dwindling generation. We didn’t have a JFK Assassination or a 9/11. The closest thing we might have had was the Berlin Wall coming down, but that was a win for the good guys, so it doesn’t really count. The Challenger explosion? Okay sure. I remember where I was, but it was much more of a singular event than anything with lasting social or political consequences. Nobody who was alive in 1986 ever talks about what it was like in the good old days before the space shuttle exploded, and that now we all have to drink our Tang differently. All we really have is some off-color Christa McAuliffe jokes.

Quick. Quick! What color eyes did Christa McAuliffe have? What was the last thing she said to her husband? What does NASA stand for? Why are they sponsored by Sprite?

(If you answered something relating to blue and feeding the fish and “Because they couldn’t get seven-up,” then you, too, were in grade school in 1986. Congratulations!)

So now that my generation is only ten years, with no line of demarcation, what’s left to distinguish the early part from the later? What is the great divide that differentiates a pre-1970 baby from a post-1970 baby?

One word: Toto.

Two more words: Rosanna. Africa.

If you thought I was talking about a woman and a place, then you probably aren’t part of my generation at all. Go play your Oregon Trail or your Pong. Still with me? Then put down the Donkey Kong and follow me.

“Rosanna” and “Africa” are two songs on the Toto IV album, which came out in 1982. I assume the album was named after the band’s affinity for taking drugs intravenously. “Rosanna” was the first single off of that album, which was released in April of 1982. It spent most of that year on the charts. “Africa” was the third single from that album, released in October of 1982, and did most of its damage in 1983.

Because if you ask a Gen Xer, instead of asking which Kennedy assassination affected you more, we can ask a far more scientific quandary. What is the definitive Toto song?

Don’t get me wrong. I love “Rosanna.” The groove, the harmonizing, the lyrics. I would put it far higher on the Yacht Rock scale than “Africa.” It was a power ballad before power ballads were even a thing. And everyone I know who was born before 1971, when you start a sentence with, “Hey, you know that one Toto song…” will respond with, “Rosanna?”

My generation? Or microgeneration? We will assume you’re talking about “Africa.” I know they were only released six months apart from each other, but “Africa” had legs that extended well into the mid-1980s. The video for “Africa” features a wacky storyline, something that was clearly created after MTV had become the titular channel for a generation. As such, the song and video lasted well into 1984 and 1985.

The video for “Rosanna,” on the other hand, didn’t get much play on cable in mid-decade. In fact, I just had to look it up on YouTube, and I don’t recognize it at all. It certainly doesn’t sit well with a 2019 mentality. Totally skeevy stalker video. Although maybe it was seen as inappropriate at the time, too, since the band appears to be locked up in detention cell behind a chain-link fence. Or maybe they’re on an inner-city basketball course? Was that a place that pervy white dudes with porn ‘staches would hang out in 1982?

Regardless, “Rosanna” was made to exist on the radio. “Africa” was made for MTV. And really, isn’t that a generational divide as great as any? In fact, now that I think about it, that might be one of the definitive breaks in not just my generation, but the twentieth century writ-large. very Forget the Stock Market Crash. Save your Pearl Harbor. The Nixon-Kennedy debate? Please. The single most monumental turning point in all of history is the moment in time between “Rosanna” and “Africa.”

And I was there for it! I saw it happen, in real time!

Gen X for the win!

Now leave us alone while we keep showing up for work and paying all your taxes.

College Mascots

March Madness is upon us. So I guess now is as good a time as any to write about my favorite college teams. Bear in mind, none of these teams have anything to do with how good the colleges are or the teams are. Or what sports they play. If you want to know the 13-seed most likely to pull an upset, you’ll have to go elsewhere.

All I’m here for are the mascots.

My high school does a “college day” every Wednesday, where they encourage teachers to wear college gear. Of course, ninety percent of the teachers at this Sacramento-area high school went to one of two colleges, such that our students actually roll their eyes at Sacramento State and UC Davis.

I wanted to be different, so I set out to find hats of obscure teams with fun mascots. One Wednesday, I might be sporting a Northern Arizona Lumberjacks hat, and the next I’ll bust out the UMKC Kangaroos. Not really sure why they’re the Kangaroos. Last time I checked, there aren’t a lot of marsupials in the Kansas City area. Then again, there aren’t a lot of Mastodons in the wherever-the-hell-IPFW is. I think it stands for “I’m Peeing in your Front Window,” and I know for a fact that there are no mastodons near my front window. Or Fort Wayne, for that matter. Or Fort Worth. I’m just covering my bases, because I’m not 100% sure what the FW stands for. The only thing I know for certain is the “I’m Peeing” part. And there are no mastodons anywhere one might find oneself peeing.

Not that I bought any IPFW hats for our college days, because IPFW doesn’t sell hats that contain both the college name and the mascot. I can get a hat that says IPFW, or a hat with a menacing elephant, but I can’t find one with both items. Seriously, IPFW. You have a pretty cool names and an awesome mascot. Yet you sell no hats that combine the two. I assume marketing is not one of the majors that is offered at IPFW? It’d take room from that vaunted prehistoric zoology department.

You know who else is super shitty about putting mascots on hats? Canadian schools! I know, I know. Who the he’ll knew there were universities in Canada? I was surprised, too. And they’ve got some damn good mascots, too. For instance, did you know that the University of Calgary are the Dinos? Don’t worry, you’re not the only one. The apparel department at the University of Calgary are alson unaware they are the dinos, as you can’t purchase any hats that indicate that fact.

The University of British Columbia are the Thunderbirds. The University of Winnipeg has Wesley Coyote. The University of Manitoba are the bison, which looks suspiciously similar to the University of Colorado’s Buffalo. But there aren’t any hats for the bison, so your best bet for repping Manitoba is to buy a Colorado hat and then put a Manitoba sticker on it.

As far as I can tell,  Nunavut Arctic College doesn’t even have a mascot. How the heel does the name of your school include the word “arctic” but you can’t pick a mascot? You probably have some legitimate options, like a polar bear, that aren’t available anywhere else in the world. Kinda like all the indigenous kangaroos in Kansas City made that such a logical pairing. But no. No mascot at Nunavut Arctic College. Hell, in America,  even our elementary schools have mascots.

The University of Saskatchewan has Howler the Husky. The University of Saskatchewan also often uses the shortened name of U-Sask. Pretty cool name. I wouldn’t even need a Husky on it if I could buy a U-Sask hat. But I can’t.

And inside Saskatchewan, we have the city of… You know what? I’m getting ahead of myself.

Back to my hat collection. One of my favorites belongs to St. Peter’s University,  which I guess is in New York. It’s not that I’m a big fan of St. Peter’s, it’s just that their mascot is the Peacocks. How, I ask, could I NOT wear a hat that had not only the word “Peter,” but also a derivation of both “Pee” and “Cocks.”

Because,  although I’m the only non-sophomore in the room,  let’s be honest,  I’m also the most sophomoric.  Do you know how hard it was to be the only one stifling giggles when I had a student giving a book presentation about all the beaver hunts the Russian settlers used to go on in the Pacific Northwest? And by “the only one stifling a giggle,” I don’t mean that everyone else was laughing uncontrollably and I was the only one to keep it under control. I mean I’m the only one who was finding it giggle-worthy in the first place. All the rest of my students were paying rapt attention to the wonderful information about the relative value of rodent-pelts.

“Yeah, so there used to be a lot of beavers. And these men were trying to get as many beavers as possible. It was a real sense of accomplishment for these men as to who could nab the prettiest beavers.  Like, if they could get more than one beaver at the same time, that would be really impressive.”

“Thank you for that very informative report about the history of my college days. Um,  I mean the non-British colonies.”

And this all brings me to what this article is about.  My favorite colleges,  which have nothing to do with the quality of the educational facilities or sports acumen. I gave a dream conference. Eight schools that should play each other on a regular basis. I don’t care about travel costs or the competitiveness of the matchups. I mean, sure, Alabama should destroy Oregon State in football every time they play,  but then again,  shouldn’t it be a bloodbath every time the Crimson Tide visit the Beavers?

(Russian traders notwithstanding)

Okay,  so here’s my conference.

Alabama. See above. Although I don’t really know if they should play anyone other than the Beavers.

Oregon State. These guys would be the MVPs of the conference,  year in and year out.  Who doesn’t want to pound Beavers on a regular basis? Just ask my sophomore book-report girl.

Ball State. See what I mean about Alabama? The crimson tide should never come anywhere close to Ball State.

Sacramento State.  This might seem an odd addition if you don’t live in Northern California. But this school usually advertises itself as “Sac State.” The cheerleaders even wear uniforms that just emblazon “SAC” right across their chest.  So knowing that, are y’all as upset as I am that we don’t have an annual “Ball-Sac Classic” in every sport? I wonder what the trophy would look like.

Wichita State. These guys have gained some traction over recent years as their basketball team has done well. Their first year of prominence,  the networks were completely unaware that their team name,  the Shockers, had a completely different connotation than “one who shucks wheat.” But if you look closely at the stands at one of their televised games, you’ll see evidence of the OTHER type of Shocker. If you aren’t aware of the Shocker, then you don’t spend much time on Urban Dictionary. It’s a rather crude, misogynistic play on a sexual move. I don’t want to get too graphic. Maybe I can use some of the pithy phrases associated with it. Like “Two in the pink, one in the…” hold on, that might not be appropriate. What about “If two fingers don’t rock ‘er, give ‘er the…” No, I can’t finish that thought. This has to stay a family friendly blog, what with its references to bloody ball sacs and whatnot. Regardless, the international symbol for shocker is the ring finger being held down by the thumb. What you’re left with is the pointer and middle finger paired together, while the pinkie (the Shocker) is off on its own. I’ll let you figure out what it’s there for.

South Carolina. I think I once wrote an entire blog entry all about my love of cock. No wait. That sounds wrong. What I mean is that, while watching college football, I like to see a lot of penetration. Like, when the University of South Carolina has a good defense, there end up being a lot of cocks in the backfield. Hold on a second. I think this is all coming across incorrectly. What I mean is it’s great to see the Cocks rise to the occasion. It would only be fitting if the winner of the Ball-Sac Classic were to team up with the Cocks for a hopeful encounter with the Beavers. Unless the Crimson Tide is in town.

University of Southern California. Nobody likes having the Trojans in their conference. They just seem to get in the way. And the pleasure that you normally get from that encounter between the Cocks and the Beavers is totally deadened by the presence of the University of Southern California. But in this era of lots of travelling matchups between various cocks and balls and sacs, it’s probably a good idea to keep the Trojans nearby. Safety first when it comes to college sports. We don’t want to have to figure out which concussion protocol to follow when there’s an errant Shocker involved.

Hey, did you know there’s been a recent tiff between the Cocks and the Trojans? The University of South Carolina is upset that the University of Southern California are the ones usually ascribed the moniker “USC.” It’s a somewhat common gripe in a country with thousands of colleges and only a finite number of letter combinations. The Buffaloes usually go with the awkward phrasing of “Colorado University,” because the California schools have already stolen the “UC” designations.

And of course, I’m sorry to spoil the Cocks’ wild dreams, but the real USC is in Southern California. Isn’t that just like the Trojans to get in the way?

And so that is the conference I wanted to see. I wanted to see Cocks and Shockers and Beavers and Ball Sacs. I want all of their games to be televised nationally and only to be announced by comedians who know how to toe the fine line of double entendre.

But there was always a problem with my conference. It only has seven teams. You can’t have a conference with an odd number of teams. You can’t have a team off every gameday. Plus, there are three sets of natural rivals and then poor Wichita State is all there by its lonesome, like a pinkie hanging around the back door.

So I looked long and hard (yeah, baby) for an eighth team to add to make it a full conference. I guess the St. John’s Red Storm is only a pale impression of the Crimson Tide. The Rams of Colorado State or Rhode Island? Meh. The Presbyterian Blue Hose had potential until I realized that they were talking about tights worn by Scots. Plus I’d have to change the spelling. I could switch around the Tulsa Golden Hurricanes into Golden Showers, but the beauty of the conference to this point is that I haven’t had to change a word. The meaning, sometimes, but Wichita State are legitimately called the Shockers.

And Navy have the audacity to call themselves the Midshipmen, when we all know they should be the Seamen.

The Massachusetts Minutemen had promise. I imagine it’s not a very good pickup line in the Bay State. “Hey baby, let me be your minuteman.” Do the cheerleaders have to stop their cheers in the middle or else the players won’t be able to finish their play? Like I said, it’s got potential, but I don’t see the Minutemen ever engaging in enough foreplay to encounter a Shocker. And they probably need matchups with the Trojans on a regular basis.

I was ready to give up on my dream conference until I started looking at those Canadian schools who hide their mascots. That’s when I found…

The University of Regina. Regina is the capital city of the Canadian province of Manitoba. It’s home to the Canadian Football League’s Roughriders. (I bet it is). The Mounties also have their training there. (I bet they do).

Of course, these jokes are only funny if you know how the name of the city is pronounced. It looks like the last two syllables should read like name Gina. The University of Re-geena. And why would Gina have anything to do with Roughriders and Mounties?

But it’s not pronounced that way. You see, much like they mispronounce the word “about” and misspell the word “labor,” those poutine-lovers pronounce a long I in Regina. So it rhymes with with Dinah. Or Carolina. Or…

So yeah… I mean, I guess… Ball State and Sac State make it into my conference by name alone, so I guess I can let the Rajin’ Gynas in on name alone. Sure, it seems odd to throw in a Canadian university. They have 110-yard football fields and I don’t know if we’ll ever be able to figure out how many centimeters it is from home plate to first base.

Let me peruse it while I look up their mascot and… whoa, ho, ho!

Ladies and Gentlemen, I present to you:

The Regina Cougars.

My work here is done.

Whither Yacht Rock, Old Sport?

I know March is not my usual time of year for concert reviews. But cover bands don’t count as real concerts, right? Besides, this review isn’t really about the band, nor the venue. I’m here to talk about the song list.

Mustache Harbor, which bills itself as a Yacht Rock cover band, recently came to town.

What’s Yacht Rock, you may ask? Well, as you’ll see below, it’s not the easiest music genre to define. The definition usually starts with a generic description of “Late 70s/Early 80s Soft Rock.” But that hardly does it justice, nor does it differentiate it from many other acts out there. Barry Manilow, for instance, is late 70s soft rock, but he’s not Yacht. Christopher Cross, on the other hand, is.

So what distinguishes Yacht Rock? A little bit of funk, but not too much funk. Maybe a dollop of driving bass line. Electric piano goes a long way. It doesn’t have to have saxophone, but really, it should probably have saxophone. And harmonizing vocals, preferably of the falsetto variety.

The only thing that everyone can agree on is that it must be smooth. Think Doobie Brothers in the Michael McDonald era. Or Steely Dan in the Michael McDonald era. Or Michael McDonald in the Michael McDonald era.

But beyond that, there’s some debate.

Kenny Loggins? His early stuff, sure. But once he became a soundtrack machine,  he was not. Or rather, he was “Nyacht.”

Toto? “Roasanna” is a yes. “I’ll be Over You” is a no. “Africa” is a maybe.

But what about Rupert Holmes? Or Fleetwood Mac? Or Air Supply?

Disagreement abounds. The Sirius/XM channel that comes on the car every summer defines some songs as Yacht Rock, Pandora uses a different definition. Even Alexa can weigh in with a playlist of her own.

The definitive listing comes from yachtornyacht.com. Those are the guys that first coined the term “Yacht Rock” back in 2005 and they now have a podcast where they rank songs from zero to one hundred. The top song on the list? “What a Fool Believes,” by the Doobie Brothers. The lowest song on the yachtornyacht scale is Led Zeppelin’s “Fool in the Rain,” scoring 2.25 on the Yachtski Scale. I don’t even know why that song was rated. I mean, I guess it has a certain bass beat. But it’s Zeppelin. Zeppelin’s not smooth.

Then again, I disagree with yachtornyacht on a regular basis. They have “Escape (The Pina Colada song)” at 35.25. Look, I know it’s cheesy. I know it’s overplayed for all the wrong reasons. I know there’s no way the wife would smile and say, “Oh, it’s you,” when he shows up at the restaurant. She’d say, “OMG, I can’t believe you were coming here to fucking cheat on me, you worthless piece of shit. You’ll be hearing from my lawyer on Monday.” But all that notwithstanding, it still needs to be above the 50% line, which is the cutoff for “On the Boat.”

There are a few other faux pas on their list, if you ask me. Chuck Mangione’s only at a 44.5? I think the last time I was on a cruise, they put that song on constant loop. And sure, a 2015 booze cruise isn’t the same thing as a 1980 yacht, but why you gotta hate on the flugelhorn? And what’s this? They have “Key Largo,” by Bertie Higgins at a 39.75? Come here, Yacht Rock Guys, I need to smack you upside the head. Watch the video! He’s on a fucking yacht. With a white suit and shirt buttoned down to his navel and his shaggy hair and beard are blowing in the wind while his girlfriend isn’t wearing a bra. That might be the most 1982 piece of media in existence. You could find Ronald Reagan orally copulating on Margaret Thatcher while she’s shouting “Where’s the Beef?” and it would only be half as early-1980s as “Key Largo.”

So, before I get into lambasting Mustache Harbor’s definition of Nyacht Rock, I’m being up front about the fact that Yacht Rock is not the most definitive style in existence. Based on their playlist, Sirius/XM probably rates Steely Dan higher than Doobie Borthers. Amazon plays a lot more Fleetwood Mac than I’m comfortable with. A number of people online keep trying to add Jimmy Buffett. And I swear by all that is mighty that every time I hear “Ain’t Even Done with the Night,” by John Cougar or John Mellencamp or John Cougar Mellencamp, I want to rank it a 95 on the Yachtski scale, but I have yet to hear or see it on any playlist. The closest it gets is Sirius/XM’s “The Bridge,” which is Yacht Rock’s evil twin brother, goatee and all.

Oh, and speaking of most definitive videos of a particular year. you can’t get much more 1980 than this. Or maybe this. I really can’t tell which video of the same people performing the same song in the same way is more glorious.

That being said, there are some hard and fast rules. And Mustache Harbor broke many of them. When I went to their concert recently, I decided to…

You know what? One more aside. Mustache Harbor is a Yacht Rock cover band. Regardless of your definition, the height of Yacht Rock was in the late 70s and early 80s. Let’s do the math. If you were, say, ten years old in 1979, you’re turning fifty this year.

Why does the age of Yacht Rock fans matter? Because the fucking concert started at ten o’clock!

Let me repeat that. The concert STARTED… at 10:00! PM! What the hell time do they think us forty- and fifty-somethings go to sleep? Dude, put the Christopher Cross guys on at 6:00 and let us grab a drink afterward and pretend we’re in our twenties again. Then maybe you can follow it up with some dancehall DJ or something. Do they still call it a dancehall DJ? Did they ever? Is the phrase “Discoteque” still in favor?

So anyway, my wife got the tickets for me as a Christmas present. Then we saw the start time. Way too late to get a babysitter, so I was flying solo. Fortunately, we have some other couple-friends who were similarly able to divvy up the chores between concerting and sleeping in the same house as children. But because wife, who also enjoys the genre, couldn’t be with me at the concert, I decided to jot down the playlist.

It wasn’t long before I thought, “This isn’t a wife list, this is a blog post.” By song five, friend and I were upset that we didn’t think to make a “Nyacht” sign.

So, without further ado (or as Yachters say, “adieu”), here’s the list of songs, along with the Yachtski number (when applicable) and my commentary.

Ride Like the Wind. Christopher Cross. Yahtski Scale: 93.75. Smooth start, Old Sport. Christopher Cross is right there at the top of the list. If Michael McDonald is the Jesus of Yacht Rock, Christopher Cross is Saint Peter. The first apostle. The first pope. “Ride Like the Wind” might not be as definitive as “Sailing,” but I’m sure the latter is coming.

You Make My Dreams. Hall and Oates. Yahtski Scale: NR. Hmm. Hall and Oates. It’s hard to be sure if they’re on the boat or not. They are definitely in the right era. And a good portion of their songs are pretty damned soulful for two white dudes, one of whom has a poof of blond hair and the other of which has a molester’s porn ‘stache. And if one of the things that defines Yacht Rock is harmonies, Hall and Oates have got those in spades. But Hall and Oates has a pretty wide range of music styles. They were tough to genre-ize, so you have to take their songs one at a time. As proof, while yachtornyacht hasn’t classified this exact song yet, they have rated twelve other Hall and Oates songs. Most are under fifty, but twelve songs means they keep popping up. You Make My Dreams? Yeah. I’ll allow it.

Somebody’s Baby. Jackson Browne. Yachtski Scale: 49.75. I love this song. This is one of the few songs that I absolutely must sing along to every time it comes on the radio. But this is one that the Yacht Rock world can’t really agree on, as is evidenced by that Yachtski Number. It’s a little too fast-paced for some. A little too mainstream rock. The lyrics are a little too whiny weenie, which is not smooth. And there are two general questions that one must ask to get a song on the boat. 1. If you were at a Yacht Rock Party, would you be okay with this song coming on? Absolutely. 2. Do you think yacht owners were actually playing this song on board in the early 1980s? Unfortunately, I gotta say no. But I don’t give a shit. This song is wonderful and this concert’s going pretty well through the third song.

Rosanna. Toto. Yachtski Scale: 95.75 Yeah. this song would be fine at a Yacht Rock Party. And I’m pretty sure every yacht in the entire world was playing this song in 1982. Soulful. You can sing it at the top of your lungs. Harmonies? Bass? Yeah. It’s the seventh-highest song on the Yachtski scale. I don’t know if I would rank it that high, but it’s definitely, unequivocally, on the boat.

I Keep Forgettin’. Michael McDonald. Yachtski Scale: 98.5 Yaaaaassssss! Starting with Christopher Cross and building toward Michael McDonald. The Yacht is Strong with this one. I Keep Forgetting… that things are about to take a turn for the worse.

Big Shot. Billy Joel. Yachtski Scale: NR I love Billy Joel. If there’s any temporary Sirius/XM station I listen to more continuously than Yacht Rock Radio, it’s Billy Joel Radio. And Billy Joel is capable of a wide variety. He does doo wop. He does a capella. He does rockers. I’m certain if he wanted to emulate Kenny Loggins at some point in his career, he could have without half a thought. But I don’t think he ever wanted to emulate Kenny Loggins. The people he emulated tended to be the 1950s and 1960s act that inspired him. Unlike Hall and Oates, who are routinely left off the boat, but are at least continually put forward as potential, there is only one Billy Joel song on the Yachtski scale, and it ain’t Big Shot. It’s Zanzibar, and it’s below fifty. So yachtor nyacht, which has ranked some 800 songs, has looked at Billy Joel’s entire late 70s, early 80s repertoire of, what, fifty-plus songs, and only one time did anyone ever think, “Huh, I wonder if this is Yacht Rock.” And then the answer was no.

Then again, would a yacht owner in 1982 have “Glass Houses” on the Hi-Fi? Yeah, he probably would. And “Big Shot” is about hangovers, so that fits the motif. But this song is a bit too driving. Too front-beat. It doesn’t even have any saxophone, and I think seventy-five percent of Billy Joel songs have a saxophone. Had they gone with “Keeping the Faith,” I might’ve been a little bit more inclined to put it on the boat. Still, Billy Joel might be classified as Yacht Rock adjacent. At the dock, maybe.

But for the first time, I’m questioning this band’s song selection. Speaking of the first time…

Feels Like the First Time. Foreigner. Yachtski Scale: NR.  I mean, props to them for picking another band I’ve written about before. But no. Foreigner is a rock band, pure and simple. Similar to Billy Joel, there is only one Foreigner song on the Yachtski scale. It’s “Waiting for a Girl Like You,” and it’s not ranked as high as “Zanzibar.” All of the “leaning nyacht” elements from Billy Joel are present in this song, but most of the “leaning yacht” elements are gone. This song was playing at frat parties in 1980, not yachts. If the next song ends up being “Working for the Weekend,” by Loverboy, I’m leaving. After all, it was already past my bedtime when you played “Ride Like the Wind.”

Summer of 69/Boys of Summer. Bryan Adams/Don Henley. Yachtski Scale: NR/NR These two songs came via a medley. A medley of summer. Yachts go out in summer, I suppose. So two songs with summer in the title. I can only suppose they cut “All Summer Long” in the rehearsal. Althoguh, unlike Kid Rock, the two summer songs they chose are bona fide top 40 hits of 1984. But unfortunately, they are in no way, shape, or form, Yacht Rock.

But I’m starting to see what they’re doing here. Maybe Yacht Rock is not enough to sustain a full concert, particularly at 10:00 at night. If they hit us with a steady stream of Gerry Rafferty or Grover Washington or Seals and Crofts, we’re not going to make it to midnight. Yacht Rock is intended to be listened to while relaxing and sipping a cocktail. This band is playing to mid-lifers at midnight. So they’ve got to throw some more upbeat songs in. And while they’re on their third Nyacht song in a row, the songs they’re picking are probably enjoyable to Yacht Rock fans. The timeframe is correct, and who didn’t love some Foreigner and Bryan Adams and Don Henley back in the early 1980s? So if you’re a Yacht Rock band that’s going to dally into Nyacht territory, these are safe dalliances. It’s a playlist catered to people of a certain age. It’s Nyacht, but it’s enjoyable.

Life in the Fast Lane. The Eagles. Yachtski scale: NR. Two Eagles songs in a row. Sort of. I know the last song was technically solo Don Henley, but let’s classify him as Eagles.

The Eagles don’t split the Yacht Rock community as much as Hall and Oates, but they’re still there on the periphery. Yachtornyacht has ranked four of their songs, but this is not one of them. Some of their songs, like maybe “Desperado” and “Tequila Sunrise,” have elements of Yacht Rock. But most of what they produced were straight-up classic rock. I think a fair amount of their later work might’ve influenced Yacht Rock. Pre-Yacht Rock? Pracht Rock? That’s the argument, at least. But nah, I don’t buy it. Eagles are classic rock. Sorry.

But what about the individual members after the breakup? Mmm… Nah, still not seeing it. Don Henley spent the 1980s much closer to a Phil Collins or a Rod Stewart than to a Christopher Cross. I might, MIGHT!, on a very generous day, give thought to “Smuggler’s Blues,” by Glenn Frey, but I’d still probably end up saying, nah, don’t buy it.

But “Smuggler’s Blues” is a bit too hard edged for Yacht Rock. If any former Eagle hit should count as Yacht Rock, I’d be most inclined to give it to Joe Walsh’s “Life’s Been Good.” But even then, I’d say, “Nah, Nyacht.”

Kiss on my List. Hall and Oates. Yachtski Scale: 62. And now we’re back in in the realm of Yacht Rock. Not on the Yacht, necessarily, but in the realm. Maybe you’re even off the dock. You’re stocking up the cooler.  Again, it’s Hall and Oates. And again, we’re facing the question of whether they’re Yacht Rock. I’m still on the fence. But after five Nyacht songs in a row, at least we’re reminded of what we’re here for.

Biggest Part of Me. Ambrosia. Yachtski Scale: 72.5. Okay. Finally, we’re back on the boat. For sure. Ambrosia is a couple of solid 1980-level crooners. Hell, if the whole concert was like this, you wouldn’t be reading a blog post right now. I don’t know if they’re a duo. Probably. If they are, forget what I just said about Air Supply. These guys are yachtier than the Aussies with their       Smooth. Harmony. Don’t bother me now, I gotta sing along. Ooo-Ooo-Ooo-Ooo-Ooo, Baby please don’t go.

Can’t Go For That (No Can Do). Hall and Oates. Yachtski Scale: 42.75. Wait a second, is this a Yacht Rock band or a Hall and Oates cover band? Did they start as the latter and realize that it didn’t really fill the stadiums arenas community centers? Not enough floozies willing to through their panties at a non-mustached Oates replacement? So they decided to Google search similar bands and discovered this new genre of music? And then they decided to slip in a little Eagles and hope no one noticed. And thinking that solo acts and the band they came from are somehow different. Is Method of Modern Love, which I believe is technically listed as a Darryl Hall solo project, coming up next?

As for where this one fits on the spectrum, I feel like it’s not as Yachty as “Kiss on My List,” but it’s better than “You Make My Dreams.” They are more yachty than the Eagles. Way more yachty than Foreigner. But if were going to have three songs from the same duo, would Air Supply kill you?

Go Your Own Way. Fleetwood Mac. Yachtski Scale: NR. Fleetwood Mac. My wife loves them. Both in general, with “Stevie Knicks Radio” as her go-to Pandora Station, and specifically, she feels that they deserve to be in the Yacht Rock genre. I can take them or leave them, generally, and specifically, I don’t think they’re anywhere near the boat. Straight-forward Classic Rock. Tom Petty’s opening act, or maybe it was the other way around. If I were to pick any Fleetwood Mac song as Yacht Rock, it might be “Rhiannon.” I know 1975 is too early, but the beat is right. “Go Your Own Way,” however, is no “Rhiannon.” And my family must not be the only one facing a similar division. Yachtornyacht.com has ranked five Fleetwood Mac songs, but none of them rank higher than 34. This song, however, is not one of the five. Nor is “Rhiannon.”

Hotel California. Eagles. Yachtski Scale: 7.17. Really? Three Hall and Oates songs AND three Eagles songs? But only one solo Doobie Brother and no Kenny Loggins. I’m really starting to think this whole Yacht Rock cover band thing is just a made-up designation because you wanted to be a Eighties band but had too much seventies. Or vice versa. You’re really just scouring the Top 40 lists from 1975 to 1985 and throwing darts.

Bennie and the Jets. Elton John. Yachtski Scale: NR. No. Nuh uh. Never. Next?

You Should Be Dancing. Bee Gees. Yachtski Scale: NR The Bee Gees are disco. Ask any person on any street in any town in the United States. Or the world. I don’t care if it’s a street in Ouagadougou, and the Burkina Fasoan has never even encountered electricity before, he’ll know that the Bee Gees are disco. When a band defines one entire genre, you can’t just sneak them into a cover band for an entirely different genre. That’s why there’s no Jimmy Buffett on the boat, either. He’s got his own genre. Ain’t nobody got no time for that.

Even worse, we’ve no had three of the last four songs be unranked. And the fourth had a single digit, which is probably worse than being unranked. And they’re actually starting to veer away from the “Good dance songs from the Yacht Rock era” caveat I threw them before. I don’t think I’ve ever heard of anyone dancing to “Hotel California.”

Well, let’s spin the random song of the early-eighties-o-meter once again and see what new Nyacht song we can come up with next.

Easy Lover. Phil Collins and Philip Bailey. Yachtski Scale: NR. Hmmm… On the plus side, it’s got Philip Bailey. On the minus side, it’s got Phil Collins. Not that Phil Collins is a negative. For my money, he’s probably one of the best rock drummers in history. And you can’t get very far into a discussion of eighties music without “No Jacket Required.” But smooth would not be in, oh, the top hundred adjectives I would use for Phil Collins. And I haven’t seen or heard this song on any Yacht Rock list before. But now that I listen to it, it does check most of the boxes. Falsetto harmonies. Backbeat. Smooth bass groove. Nice electric guitar solo. Well shit. Has this song been overlooked? If I can hold onto my “Ain’t Even Done with the Night,” then maybe there’s room for some “Easy Lover.” Thank you, Mustache Harbor, for making me contemplate this, and I will overlook the fact that you’re now on five straight unranked, or should have been, songs.

What a Fool Believes. Doobie Brothers. Yachtski Scale: 100. Thank God for some Doobie Brothers. It’s about fucking time. The only song ranked 100% Yacht on the Yachtski scale. This is it. No, not “This Is It.” That song is only ranked at 98.25. But if we’re back in Doobie territory, Kenny Loggins can’t be far behind. Maybe they’ve finally gotten all of their Disco, Classic Rock, Glam Rock shit out of the way and now it’s all Yacht Rock the rest of the way. After all, we’re nineteen songs into a concert that started at 10:00 at night. There can’t be many songs left. Hey, they totally should’ve done “Hey Nineteen” for their nineteenth song. But it’s too late for that. Come to think of it, I haven’t heard any Steely Dan yet. And I’m fine with that. If Fleetwood Mac’s where my wife and I tend to disagree, then Steely Dan is where I come to blows with BOTH Sirius/XM and yachtornyacht. Yes, I know Michael McDonald was briefly part of Steely Dan, and they do have some Yacht Rock songs, but Sirius/XM plays, like, three Steely Dan songs an hour, and at least half of the Steely Dan songs they play are just plain bad. I mean, if I have to listen to “Deacon Blues” or “Babylon Sisters” one more time, then I might have to, oh I don’t know… Not turn off the radio, but maybe pray a little harder for the return of Billy Joel radio? C’mon, Sirius/XM, play some more Doobie Brothers. Michael McDonald era Doobie Brothers. Something like, oh I don’t know, “What a Fool Believes.”

Oh right. Where was I?

All Night Long. Lionel Richie. Yachtski Scale: 61. I’m actually surprised how high this one is on the Yachtski scale. I thought it was more controversial. I think Lionel Richie might be hurt by the rest of his catalog. He’s often mentioned alongside Barry Manilow. Or Nicole Ritchie, but that’s an entirely different mark on his career. But musically, there’s a lot of straight ballads in his catalog. There’s got a lot of funk in there. There’s a lot of whatever the hell “Dancing on the Ceiling” is in there. But really, what is Yacht Rock if not funkified ballads? And “All Night Long” is way more upbeat than “Easy” or “Hello” or “Truly.” It’s not straight funk like “Brick House.” It’s almost frustrating that Lionel Richie couldn’t fuse his sappy-ass shit with his funk bona fides more often. But he does it here. He does it in “Sail On,” too.

Okay, and maybe “Dancing on the Ceiling.”

Hold the Line. Toto. Yachtski Scale: 56.5. Doobie Brothers, then “All Night Long,” then quintessential Toto? I’m in. We are back on the boat. By the way, there are fully eighteen Tot songs on the Yachtski Scale, and none of them rank below 40. That’s how you determine a Yacht Rock act. If Michael McDonald is Jesus and Christopher Cross is Saint Peter, then the singers of Toto are the rest of the disciples. Like Judas. He’s a good guy, right? I didn’t stay till the end of the movie.

Regardless, it’s smooth sailing from here on out. They faked us out with their Elton John dalliance, but these dudes know what they’re doing. I can safely stop creating my “Nyacht” sign to hold up every time they start a new song. Super excited to see where this cruise stops next.

Maniac. Michael Sembello. Yachtski Scale: 14. What the-? Umm… Well, at least it’s a movie soundtrack. About a stripper. It’s Kenny Loggins, right? Footloose? Wait, are you sure that was Jennifer Beals who did the lean back in the chair with all the water dumping on her? I could’ve sworn it was Kevin Bacon in a tank-top and jeans, twirling through the barn, and then he finishes by pouring water on himself. Those are two different dances in two different movies? I don’t know. I might have to take that under advisement.

Regardless, “Flashdance” isn’t Yacht Rock.

Africa. Toto. Yachtski Scale: 93. Toto, part three. Although, as with the Eagles and Hall and Oates, they’re playing two songs from the same band way too close to each other. Who makes the setlist for these guys? Did he forget to hit the shuffle button at the end? I wish I could find a video poker machine that’s as “random” as your songs, because I’m pretty sure I could get three of a kind all day long.

As for “Africa,” I think it’s a heck of a lot better than “Hold the Line.” Maybe than “Rosanna.” Heck, “Africa” might be one of the most perfect songs ever written and recorded, and quite possibly one of the quintessential songs of the 1980s. But I don’t know if it’s Yacht Rock. I enjoy it when it comes on Yacht Rock playlists. But, even though it was released in late 1982, I associate it more with 1984 and 1985. It had enough legs to last well into mid-decade. It’s almost a genre unto itself. Kind of like “Don’t Stop Believin’.”

And no, Journey is not Yacht. But I’m surprised this band hasn’t gone there yet. Journey’d be more legit that the Eagles.

Baby Come Back. Player. Yachtski Scale: 58.5. Hold on. Can’t comment. Need to croon. ANY KIND OF FOOL CAN SEE! I mean, I do find it odd that they played this song twice in the same concert, but… hold on… my bad, the other song was “Biggest Part of Me.” I guess I was never aware those were two different songs.

Regardless, man, this is my happy place. This is the shit I came to see. I don’t care where yachtornyacht ranks it. I don’t need to listen to the podcast episode where they blaspheme it all the way down to what my students would call a D-minus-minus. And y’all got “Babylon Sisters” at an 89? What is wrong with the people who invented the term Yacht Rock? Y’all got no clue of what you’re talking about. Am I the only one who really knows? Well, me and Mustache Harbor, right? You and me, guys. We know what’s going on. Can’t wait to see how you finish this concert out.

Blinded By the Light. Manfred Mann. Yachtski Scale: NR. I know, I know. I’ve used the same joke multiple times. And I really wanted to start this with another “Ummm….” or a “What the…” But I’m kinda being real about the emotions I went through at the concert. Every time they would get on a roll, I’d start thinking maybe they had to get past the Nyacht and now they’re in the Yacht. I came up with logical reasons why they would throw in a Bryan Adams song. I tried to make a good argument for Phil Collins. I side with this band against the feudal lords on the “Player v. Steely Dan” debate. And then they bust out the Manfred fucking Mann. Forget designations of Yacht and Nyacht. On what planet is “Blinded by the Light” in the same setlist as “I Keep Forgetting”? And unlike “Feels like the First Time,” this isn’t a mood-setter. We are near the end of the concert. We’re building toward your finale, and all I can think is that if this is your best stuff, then my initial suspicions were the most accurate: you were some other type of cover band who only reclassified in a new genre to trick unsuspecting fans like myself. Although what the hell were you covering before? There’s too much seventies to be an eighties band. Too much eighties to be a… well, I guess there aren’t any seventies cover bands, are there? So maybe a white funk band? Fine, if you want funk, then put in some Tower of Power. “What is Hip?” wouldn’t make it on any Yacht Rock list I’ve ever seen, but it’d be no worse than Manfred Mann. Hell, play some Bruno Mars.

Unfortunately, I took a leak during this song, so I don’t know if he sang the alleged lyric, “And little Early-Burly came by in his curly wurly,” or the real lyric – “And little Early-Burly gave my anus curly-wurly.

Easy. Commodores. Tachtski Scale: NR.  Well, shit. I just got finished saying “All Night Long” was legitimate Lionel Richie Yacht Rock, not like his slow-ass ballads. Like “Truly.” Or “Still.” Or… Do I now have to take back everything I said about knowing the fifty year-olds in your audience need some pick-me-up songs for a concert that starts after dinner? Because if that’s the case, then how is this the penultimate song? I mean, I didn’t check the clock. Did you intentionally wait until midnight so that it is now officially Sunday morning? Because 12:01 Saturday night isn’t “Easy like” anything. It’s hard as hell and I’m trying to be a young buck and pound my last IPA, but my daughter’s going to be waking my ass up in five hours because she doesn’t seem to understand the difference between weekday mornings and weekend mornings.

And if they DIDN’T intentionally wait until midnight just to be clever, if they’re just playing some slow-ass Commodores song because they think that’s what the people demand, then I need to make sure I pack that “NYACHT” sign next time.

Still the One. Orleans. Yachtski Scale: 31.25. This is the song they ended their main set with. I mean, I guess it’s more upbeat than “Easy. But is it Yacht? Meh. The timeframe kinda works. It’s a fun song. No harm, no foul. If I hadn’t been questioning your bona fides for the last two hours, if you hadn’t tried to sneak “Hotel California” and “Bennie and the Jets” past me, I’d probably be fine with this. But coming off of the last two songs? I feel like I haven’t heard Yacht Rock in a half-hour.

And regardless of its genre, I don’t really know that I’d call “Still the One” a set ender. This is more of a “Don’t forget to close out your tabs, then come back for the finale” song. Honestly, this is where you might want to stick an “All Night Long” or a “Hold the Line.” Even “Easy Lover” is upbeat enough to build toward.  It’s like you now feel bad for keeping us up past our bedtime and you know want to lull us back to sleep. Except we still need to drive home, so throw us a beat here.

And then they left the stage. But the lights didn’t come on. And we all know what that means. Encore! Boy, I wonder what they’ll play.

Of course, with a standard band, you think back over all their catalogue of hits and try to find that needle in the haystack, that quintessential hit that they haven’t played yet. I’ve seen Mummford and Sons enough times to know that they will usually play either “I Will Wait” or “Little Lion Man” as the second or third song of the concert. Then the other one will be in their encore. See? That’s how you make a setlist.

However, with a cover band, and especially a genre cover band, it’s wide open. And with this particular genre cover band, boy howdy. It could be anything. “All Shook Up” to “Uptown Funk.” Maybe follow up the Orleans version of “Still the One” with Shania Twain’s song of the same name.

But let’s give them the benefit of the doubt. Let’s see what genuine Yacht Rock is still out there.

They still haven’t played any Steely Dan. I’ve got no problem with that particular oversight, but I’m sure some other aficionados might. “Hey Nineteen.” “Peg.”

Still no Kenny Loggins. This seems like a greater oversight. “This is It” seems like a good encore song, but I’d be willing to listen to “Who’s Right, Who’s Wrong.” “Footloose” isn’t Yacht Rock, but it would be a good intro song if you’re doing more than one song.

They only played one Christopher Cross song, and it wasn’t the most iconic Yacht Rock song of “Sailin’.” They’ve got to do “Sailin’,” right? You can’t have a Yacht Rock concert without that song. Seems more of a show-starter than a show-stopper, but maybe if the encore is more than one song.

Who else is missing? Rupert Holmes? Bertie Higgins? Al Jaurreau? Boz Skaggs? Captain n’ Tenille?

Well, they didn’t give us long to muse. I don’t even know if the last band member was off the stage before they were heading back out for their send-off, one song, encore.

What’s it gonna be? What’s it gonna be?

Encore: 

Blink. Blink. My jaw stood agape as the opening hit. Wait, this isn’t-? It kinda sounds like-. It can’t be-. Did they really just-? WHAT THE FUCK AM I LISTENING TO?!?

Come Sail Away. Styx. Yachtski Scale: 7.25.

Seriously? Styx? A song more memorable as a “South Park” bit? Yes. Yes, I know that it says “Sail” in the title, but… What in the Actual Fuck are they thinking?

That 7.25 on the Yachtski scale is being generous. They probably just threw it a bone because it has the word “Sail.” But this song is the opposite of smooth. It’s overdone. It’s baroque brashness.

Yacht Rock goes for fun over dramatic. It’s smooth, unassuming. You WANT to be on the boat.

Want to know a boat you DON’T want to be on? The one where the captain keeps begging and pleading for you to join him. “Come sail way, come sail away, come sail away with me, you guys…”

C’mon… PLEASE?!?