Television, disconnected

Television, for 20-year-old me in 1977, was something I watched. A lot.

Television, for the same 20-year-old, was not something I heard. At all.

So here I am, standing off to the side again, feeling a bit left out, watching a parade of deeply felt and richly deserved tributes to Tom Verlaine stream past in my social feeds. It’s not the first time that’s happened.

Of course, I’ve long known of Tom Verlaine, and long known he played in Television, and long known he was highly regarded and highly influential among musicians.

I’d just never heard any of it.

None, until playing some YouTube cuts shared yesterday in friends’ and follows’ social posts. “Marquee Moon,” the much-loved title cut to Television’s debut LP? I heard it last night for the first time.

Television wasn’t played on the radio I heard in Wisconsin in 1977. Don’t know how or where else I would have heard them. Wausau and Eau Claire weren’t exactly cutting-edge outposts. None of my friends were into THAT KIND OF MUSIC.

Maybe Mike played it at Inner Sleeve Records in Wausau when it came out in early 1977. But these were the groups and artists whose records I was buying in 1977: Foreigner, Head East, J. Geils Band, Jackson Browne, Lynyrd Skynyrd. Yeah, I’m not seeing Tom Verlaine and Television crashing that party, either. Obviously, I don’t have any Television records.

New York Rocker magazines with Tom Verlaine on the cover.

(Photo credit: New York Rocker magazine covers found at this Flashbak post.)

I might have read about Tom Verlaine and Television in Rolling Stone in the late ’70s and into the ’80s. New York Rocker certainly wasn’t on any newsstand where I lived.

The old papers show Television played two shows at Bunky’s in Madison on Monday, June 19, 1978. That also would not have been on my radar.

I might have heard Tom Verlaine and Television when I listened to indie radio — WORT — while living in Madison for most of the ’80s, and again on streaming public and indie radio — WXPN, WFMU — in recent years.

But if any of that happened, it never registered in the sense of knowing the song — oh, yeah, that’s Tom Verlaine and Television! — or remembering the experience today.

Now I’ll try to tap into the love and appreciation expressed by my friends and follows and listen to their favorite songs, saying hello to Tom Verlaine as they say goodbye.

1 Comment

Filed under January 2023

One response to “Television, disconnected

  1. I will, too. Now I’m curious.

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