Is she? Really?

March 9 was a Friday night back in 1979. I was a senior in college at that time, attending the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire.

Friday nights and college students meant just one thing. House party.

I was late to the party at Pat’s house that night, too. I often worked at the newspaper until about 11 p.m., so everyone usually had a considerable head start on me. Which was not necessarily a bad thing. I worked hard, then played hard, not usually given to moderation.

At that particular house party, I met a girl I knew. We looked for a quiet place to talk. That place was near the top of the stairs, on the way to the bathroom, so we dodged a fair amount of traffic from time to time.

The party wound down, and I asked that girl whether she wanted a ride home. Turns out it was just a couple of blocks to her house. Even so, it was time enough for this mantra to keep running through my head — “Take it easy. Don’t push it. Be cool.” We sat in the car outside her house for a little while longer, and I worked up the nerve to ask whether she’d like to do something again, maybe dinner. She said yes.

That girl and I were in some journalism classes together. Our circles of friends overlapped. When word got around that we’d become a couple, this pretty much summed up the reaction from some of our friends.


“Is She Really Going Out With Him?” Joe Jackson, from “Look Sharp!” 1979.

Yes, she was. She still is. Janet and I have been together 30 years today.

That Joe Jackson album — a wonderfully intelligent though cynical mashup of pop, rock, ska, reggae and jazz — was one of our favorites then and remains so today.

When our record collections finally merged, we each had a copy of “Look Sharp!” Our copies are among the early pressings — a package that consisted of two 10-inch EPs with a small “Look Sharp!” pin. Mine still has the pin. Janet’s pin is gone, and the picture of Joe Jackson on the flip side of her album has light blue crop marks from where she once used it to illustrate a review of the album.

Both of them have these cuts, too.

“Fools In Love” — Are there any other kind of lovers, indeed.

“Sunday Papers” — We used to love going out and getting a stack of the big-city Sunday papers — New York, Chicago, Milwaukee, the Twin Cities — and spending most of the day with them. How quaint that seems now.

Both by Joe Jackson, from “Look Sharp!” 1979.


Filed under March 2009, Sounds

16 responses to “Is she? Really?

  1. I offer congratulations, of course, but this post bring me something: vicarious enjoyment of the friends’ Jacksonian teasing, of the prospect of eight big city newspapers in the living room at one time, and of the certainty that two people for whom I have great regard deserve every good thing they can find. It all brings a pleased smile in these precincts. Cherish the years, please.

  2. Great story – great album. I have the same 10″ with intact pin and a promo pin to boot.

    30 years! Jealousy reigns rampant! Congrats!

  3. jb

    Great story, great post. Best to you both.

  4. Congrats on the 30 years. And you told the story in a very touching way. A good read, and good tunes. Thanks.

  5. Bill in Milwaukee

    I had the pleasure of seeing Joe Jackson play the Pabst theater in Milwaukee last year. Great show. Much of it by himself at his piano, and then with a minimal backing band. The power of his voice and the musicianship was increadible.

    Congrats on Thirty years!

    *Bill in Milwaukee

  6. bamabob

    Great story and a hearty congrats to ya!

    Thanks for the tunes too—have not even thought of Joe Jackson in years. Good stuff!

  7. Arthur2sheds

    One of the all-time great debut albums. My personal fave is “Got the Time.”

  8. Congrats on 30 years together.

  9. Beautiful post, Jeff.

    Congrats to both of you.

  10. Shark

    Congratulations to both of you on 30 years. May another 30 wonderful years be in your future. (On a personal note: On March 10, 1979, I went behind the microphone and did my first airshift on the radio…on a 450 watt college radio station. The first song I played was “No Tell Lover” by Chicago.)

    As for Joe Jackson…”Look Sharp” is absolutely

  11. I just want to join the club and say “congrats”. 30 years. . . that is truly amazing!

  12. Mike Martinsen

    Congrats to you both!! Jeff, you realize that you are way over your skis by being with the lovely Janet. How you ever managed to con her into staying with you is beyond belief!!!!

  13. W

    Great tale! Congratulations. W.

  14. Great album — one to share with my son, who is now a Joe Jackson fan. Nice story, too, by the way.

  15. Ain’t you the one! Good stuff!

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