We Want the Airwaves

Election Eve With Fred

Sisters of Mercy

After seven solid nights of mostly incredible shows, Tina Turner through Los Skarnales, on the eighth Rocks Off rested. I even bought a freakin' bottle of milk. As it so often is, the XM receiver at Rocks Off HQ is tuned to Fred, so the Cure have been by several times. Morrissey, XTC, U2 and the Jesus and Mary Chain have all checked in. Ditto OMD, Iggy, the Replacements, Berlin and Bowie.

One hour before Election Day is officially, finally here - it already is, back East - the Call is urging "Let the Day Begin." Not so fast. For 60 more minutes, Fred is a sanctuary from Sarah Palin Prank Calls, not to mention the sobering realization that in 24 short hours, one way or the other, history as we know it will have changed. Utterly and irrevocably.

The Clash, "Spanish Bombs" (London Calling, 1979): One of the band's best revolution rockers, and irrefutable evidence of the impact their Lubbock pal Joe Ely - and Buddy Holly, for that matter - had on them. Oh, my corazon.

OMD, "If You Leave" (Pretty In Pink original soundtrack, 1986): A Bush quip wouldn't be out of place, but consider John Hughes' perspective. Due largely to songs like this pleading synth-pop sparkler, his movies are one of the few things areas of pop culture that out-Chicago Barack Obama. Or they were.

R.E.M., "World Leader Pretend" (Green, 1988): Q.E.D. Not a coincidence. Which line will be more prophetic tomorrow: "This is my mistake, let me make it good" or "I demand a rematch"? Surely not "I divine my deeper motives." Could an actual human be at the satellite controls tonight? "Let my machine talk to me."

Pretenders, "Talk of the Town" (Pretenders II, 1981): If there's a band Rocks Off has fallen for more this year than Chrissie Hynde's crew, it would only be Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers and the Stones. True, more for the reissued Learning to Crawl (1984) than the new Break Up the Concrete - which ain't bad at all - but I've texted friends her lyrics. Not this song, though - yet.

Pogues, "Tuesday Morning" (Waiting for Herb, 1993): Their best (and best-known) non-Shane-sung song? Probably. Evidence somebody at Fred knows exactly what they're doing? Absolutely. Brimming with optimism - banjo, accordion, tin whistle, etc. - with a definite undercurrent of sadness. Sound like the mood of any nation you know? So far, this is too easy.

The Cars, "Good Times Roll" (The Cars, 1978): Ahem. A media forecast for tomorrow: "Let the stories be told, let them say what they want... if the illusion is real, let them give you a ride."

Sugarcubes, "Coldsweat" (Life's Too Good, 1988): Bjork: The Early Years. Very Siouxie and the Banshees - swirling, feline, predatory, glam - and oddly bluesy at that.

Depeche Mode, "Policy of Truth" (Violator, 1990): Puh-leeze. A perfect balance of metronomic Europop precision and R&B-ish rock angst, "Policy" holds its own against Violator-mates "Personal Jesus" and "Enjoy the Silence"... almost. Another pick-the-lyric election song, obviously - how about "hide what you have to hide, and tell what you have to tell"?

Public Image Limited, "Public Image" (First Issue, 1978): More Pistols-y than most PIL - written when its author was still a Sex Pistol, in fact - the band's namesake song is prime Johnny Rotten and John Lydon, and the guitar is all over U2's first three LPs. Politically, a redline for the media file.

ABC, "The Look of Love" (The Lexicon of Love, 1982): Motown meets Marc Almond (the "Tainted Love" guy). Strings and everything. They can't all be about politics, right?

Sisters of Mercy, "Nine While Nine" (First and Last and Always, 1985): Not one I know well - I picked up the Sisters' trail with 1987's Floodland - but a band I adore deep in my creepy little black Goth heart. Very Joy Division, spare, slow and slightly out of tune. Andrew Eldritch sings about lipstick on cigarettes, walking in the rain and waiting on a train. Or is that waiting on change? Well, I thought I could escape, anyway... ends, seriously, at the stroke of midnight.

10,000 Maniacs, "Like the Weather" (In My Tribe, 1987): "With force of will my lungs are filled, and so I breathe." Happy Election Day! - Chris Gray

[Note: Not long after, Queen and David Bowie's "Under Pressure" and X's "4th of July" both came on. Even in such a crazy, fucked-up time, there's no place like the good ol' U.S.A. Now, if you haven't already done so, get off your damn computer and go vote.]