We're coming up now on the 38th anniversary of my first band, first called Thunder, then Voyager, then The Raid, then Everything But Anchovies. That means we're also approaching the 37th anniversary of the classic eponymous recording Voyager. I'm going to highlight a few songs from that album over the next few weeks to celebrate these anniversaries, even if it makes me feel ancient.
I've written before about "Live It Up" and "Just Surviving" from that album. This week I'll highlight one of the first songs we wrote together: "Staying Up All Night". I've always been the band historian, keeping a band diary we called "The Raid Records" (shortened to "The Records" with the change to E.B.A.), and here's how that opens up:
was the name of the first song I wrote, a few weeks after getting an acoustic guitar for my thirteenth birthday, July 18, 1978. It had no words or melodies, just a rumbling through a few chords I'd learned. I taught myself how to play some Beatles songs, and things like "American Pie" and "Lola", and to pick up songs from the radio. I didn't tell my buddies in the Thunderbolt Club about it. But I knew Jon had been taking drum lessons for a while, and in the fall he started lessons on a drum kit. And I started to dream.
In January 1979, I sold my comic book collection, threw in some paper route money, and bought a black Sekova electric guitar from Enzo Campagnolo for $120. Jon's drum teacher lent him a small kit.
*** ANDY AND JON FIRST GOT TOGETHER ON 18 MARCH 1979 ***
Down in a corner of his basement, I played through Jon's stereo, and Jon's drums were overpowering. We tried to play "Thunder" and "Double Vision", but didn't get much together. We got together again on 26 & 27 May 79 and wrote the infamous classics "Paradise" and "Staying Up All Night". We played and sang them for Tim and Pete and Fred, and they were not impressed with the words or singing ("Andy- stop singing" or "play it without the words").
A few days later Tim bought his Rickenbacker bass, and started dreaming of playing funky disco bass lines like the one in "Car Wash". With two new amps, we got down in the basement, I showed Tim the bitchin' bass parts to "Staying Up All Night" and "Paradise", and we made some downright awesome noise!
*** JON, TIM, AND ANDY FIRST GOT TOGETHER ON 2 JUNE 1979 ***
And there was Thunder. And it was good.
So, I don't have any recordings of "Thunder" (but I remember it used a lot of open E, A, and D chords), and the next song I wrote was called "She's An Angel" (in the saddest key of all: D minor), but I didn't share that with the band until July of 1979, when we worked it out as a band and Tim wrote a third verse for it. (July is also when we changed the band name from Thunder to Voyager.) So the first songs we wrote together, just me and Jon, were "Paradise" and "Staying Up All Night". When we first wrote "Paradise", it had some simple lyrics, but we turned it into an instrumental early in 1980 before this recording. (Jon and I did a joyous remake of it in 2005 with what I remembered of the lyrics.)
I don't remember a lot of detail about writing those two songs with Jon. Jon had his drum kit, which was on loan from his drum teacher, set up in a little corner of his basement, and I actually plugged my guitar into Jon's stereo somehow because I didn't have an amp until July. I remember laughing a lot as we made up rhymes and wrote things down, and the pure fun it was making music with a friend and singing out loud!
As for subject matter, we were 13 & 12 years old, so of course girls were on our minds, and the story of the song is all made up.
I started getting together that summer of '79 with Pete to teach him guitar, and by September he'd bought an inexpensive Encore electric guitar and started rehearsing with us in Voyager, sharing an amp with me. By early 1980 we had a repertoire of about 8 originals, and we enlisted our friend Aram Tabackman to make a recording, because he had an expensive ($250) Sanyo cassette deck. There was a recording session in February with a 4-channel mixer that has no surviving tapes that I know of. Then he came back in March with two 4-channel mixers and more cheap mics to make this recording. We made it over two days, the 14th and 19th of March 1980, all recorded live with 8 cheap microphones mixed live to a stereo cassette deck. I'm still floored by the recording quality and the freshness of these songs!
Here's an illustration I made with MacDraw on my Macintosh Plus sometime in the late 1980s showing how we set up in Jon's basement around the time of this recording:
Thanks for listening!
Staying Up All Night Staying up all night with the radio low We're staying up together gonna dance real slow Me and my baby with the lights down low We're gonna make it last till I got to go I'm dreaming of us as we're dancing real slow I'm dreaming on baby with the lights down low Keep on dancing gonna do it alright Dance on angel through the heavenly light The music's stopped playing and the lights are still low I hate to leave you baby but I got to go We stayed up all night with the radio low We stayed up together and we danced real slow Jon Morse and Andy Wyatt --- 27 May 1979 © 1979 by Voyager