Okay, so this past Saturday morning on my way to the DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles) to renew my license — an unwieldy task in and of itself — the radio DJ had just finished up some overplayed (for 30+ years) Steely Dan song and said, “I’ll have another great driving tune in 30 minutes…” and then proceeded to play “The Sign” from Ace of Base.
Try 3 seconds!
I belted out the entire tune like it was 1994 — nearly wearing my voice out. There are only a handful of songs that hold this status for me and as cheez-pop as it sounds now (and did even back then) — and it’s certainly not really in my preferred style of music — the song is timeless.
So how do I know all of the lyrics? Well, I’ll tell you…
I happened to be in high school in 1994 when the song came out.
Now, as I’ve mentioned a few times in the past, I was distance runner on the track team. You know, one of the skinny guys that can run in circles endlessly.
Well, to the casual observer, it may have seemed like we were weaklings but truth be told, we were in the gym on a daily alongside the huckers and chuckers (the meathead discus and shot put throwers).
So, it was a pretty small weight room — a spot for squats, a couple of benches for free weights, and this giant Solo-Flex thing that had like 8 “stations” for all kinds of things. We distance runners basically rotated around this one universal machine before pounding the pavement.
Anyway, this windowless former uniform storage closet was a pretty mundane place to “work out”. One guy had a boom box (a what?) to listen to tune except we were technically in an underground bunker where we couldn’t get any stations in — even with tin foil all over the antenna.
There was one very cool feature on this boom box though — it had a tape deck (a what?) that would auto-flip (huh?) automatically kinda like cassette players in your car (in your where?) would do.
Cassettes were still a hot commodity then since no one had a CD player in their car — cassettes or the radio were your only options — so no one was willing to sacrifice one for the weight room.
Until one day, a cass-single (seriously, what are you talking about?), still in it’s cardboard wrapper, magically appeared.
I mean, “The Sign.”
With the high end technology of that boom box and that poor cass-single, I must’ve heard that song hundreds of times with a 45 pound weight hanging from a chain between my legs connected to a weight belt as I struggled through 3+ minutes of dips.
And that was the beauty of the song — it’s tempo was perfect for doing weights and clocking in at just over three minutes, it was also a perfect timer for when to change stations on the universal…
So, yeah, to most of the school, the weight room seemed like a scary place that only jocks hung out in after school and during study hall but, in reality, it was a meeting place for bunch of guys who pretended not to like Ace of Base.
Really, though, to this day, I’d bet everyone single member of the 1994 State Champion Track team still belts it out on the rare instance that it’s still played somewhere.
Speaking of Ace of Base, we’re about due for another double dating Swedish musical act to take the world by storm, no?