buh-wong and it’s summer

The other day “When Will I Be Loved” by Linda Ronstadt burst out of the radio during my commuter reverie, and it was the Summer of 1975.

The highway and the sunshine and the song morphed into the control room of WDUX radio in Waupaca, Wisconsin, and I was a rookie news guy volunteering for an open disk-jockey shift. I think my then-girlfriend was visiting the studio, because I associate her smile with Linda blasting out of the speakers — because “When Will I Be Loved” is one of those songs that deserves to be played loud.

That unforgettable cold intro — buh-wong “I’VE been cheated” — buh-wong “BEEN mistreated” — buh-wong “WHEN will I be loved” and the band winding up to rollick through the song. It is one of Ronstadt’s signature moments, when her powerful voice matched the arrangement like the proverbial hand in glove.

The jangling guitar solo in the middle is note perfect. The recording is a joyous celebration of summer longing, and I danced around the studio in my memory as I rocketed along the highway 48 summers on. 

Music has that power to transport you back to where you were when the song was fresh and new, especially when accompanied by a similar environment. “When Will I Be Loved” just sounds like a summer day ought to sound, and when played on such a day, time travel becomes real.

That studio was special, being the centerpiece of my first professional job. That young woman was special, my first love in “the real world.” That summer was special — you only go out on your own for the first time once. And that song was special.

Music soothes the savage breast, even when the music is full of jangly guitars and the genre is country rock. That was an inspired two minutes.

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