Holding on very loosely to .38 Special
(Sounds of screaming, as if my digestive tract was removed through an eye socket.)
Once known for its foul-smelling paper plants, these days Jacksonville is known primarily for three things:
- It's the site of the annual Florida-Georgia football game.
- Its residents' love of mustard-based BBQ sauce.
- It's the birthplace of Southern Rock idols Lynyrd Skynyrd, Molly Hatchet and .38 Special.
Every day when I lived there, the FM stations would dedicate at least an hour of noon-time programming entirely to one of the bands (usually Skynyrd, I'm sorry to say). I've heard "Free Bird" more times than I've heard "Come On Eileen." I know every whistle in any Molly Hatchet hit. And I've memorized each harmonizing chorus by .38 Special. It's not a gift. It's a curse. The curse the Jacksonville.
So when I saw that .38 Special was performing with REO Speedwagon on Oct. 23 in Clearwater, I immediately felt queasy -- as if I'd consumed one too many racks of those mustardy ribs. I'm an REO addict so I have great seats to the show -- but can I survive another hour of .38 Special? I think so.
For those new to Southern rock, let me assure you: .38 Special is no one-hit wonder. More than 20 of their songs hit the charts between 1980 and the late 90s. How do you describe their sound? Skynyrd Lite? That's not fair. Maybe how Toto would sound had they been from southern Georgia? That's closer.
Here's a list for the optimistic side of me. The one that savors the memories of the wide, empty beaches on Jacksonville's Atlantic coast -- not the side of me that also is haunted by that gurgling Willy Wonka chocolate river running through the town called the St. John's.
TOP FIVE .38 SPECIAL TUNES:
5. If I'd Been The One: "Could you smile when inside you just want to cry?"
4. Caught Up In You: "When it's right the light just comes shining through."
3. Teacher, Teacher: "The joke's on those who believe the system's fair."
2. Fantasy Girl: "Now I've had my share and sometimes I swear that I've had me enough."
1. Hold On Loosely: "If you cling to tightly you're gonna lose control."
[Times staff photo; publicity shot from 38special.com]