As the great sage Slim Dunlap (of The Replacements, among others) once told me, "Music gives you all kinds of gifts, you just have to look for, and appreciate them." Playing shows with and then becoming friends with Terry Anderson and The Olympic Ass-Kickin Team has been one of the great joys of my rock n roll life.
Random Highlights Include:
- Terry calling me at home out of the blue one Sunday while traveling with The Yahoos, "Colin, it's Terry, we are driving near Columbus looking for a good place to drink tequila. Anything near I-70 and mile marker 134?". My wife was like, "Who's that?" I covered up the phone with my hand and breathlessly whispered, "It's the real Terry Anderson. On the phone. With me. Right now!" "Um, ok. Well, what does he want?" "He wants to know a place to drink tequila close to the highway! This is so cool!"
- Terry and The OAK Team backing up Erica Blinn on her very first recording.
- Letting me write up their set-list at a show at Slim's in Raleigh, NC.
- Hanging out with the guys at a Clippers baseball game at the old Cooper Stadium on Mound Street, along with my then 3 year old son Owen. "The Clippers Welcome Terry Anderson & The OAK Team " on the scoreboard. Thanks to my pal Mark Galuska for help on that one.
BUT, the biggest highlight (and I think Ricki C. would agree with me) was one of the first shows Watershed opened for the OAK Team was at a club in Macon, Georgia. I was already a fan but I had never seen them do a full two-set, hell-raising rock show. Standing back by the merch table with Ricki C. I remember saying, "Is it me or is this band like 1,000 times better than NRBQ?" Ricki responded in an instant, "Absolutely. I saw NRBQ a bunch back in the day, and these guys are better."
Blasphemy I know. Don't get me wrong, NRBQ is a great band, but on this night, The OAK Team were better. In fact, every night I saw them, The Oak Team were better than NRBQ. They are just a better band with better songs.
"It's like watching a cover band except it's all originals. Every song is so great. Everyone is so great. I don't know who to watch" I yelled in Ricki's ear. He nodded even though I'm not sure he heard me. Ricki's ears are sorta shot, though to be fair, it was loud.
Anyway, it's getting near last call, people are standing on tables, busting shit up, you know... when after telling a hilarious rap about digging around the fridge at a gas station, Terry starting singing...
"Why don't you come over here, and help me drink this Thunderbird / Why don't you come over here and help me drink this Thunderbird / Why don't you come over and help me drink this Thunderbird / Why don't you come over here and help me drink this Thunderbird"
I thought, "Oh no.. he..is..not..." That is the chorus. Read those words again. Try to imagine how that can work. Read them out loud. That CANNOT work. It's just the same lines. How can that work? How did he even show it to the band? That can't work.
Not only does it work, the hook gets drilled directly into your brain's hard drive and for the rest of your life you will find yourself singing it in some random moment. Like jogging in the park, driving in your car, or attending the funeral of a person you didn't know very well.
Writing serious songs is easy. The real trick is writing a fun song that the world never asked for but now we cannot imagine a world without. When questioned about my all-time favorite songwriters I tick them off real quick: Chuck Berry, Ray Davies, Paul Westerberg, Bruce Springsteen and...Terry Anderson. The man is a songwriting genius and I'm sure people would argue he has 40 more deserving songs than this one. They might be right. But "they" aren't on the Hall of Fame committee and I am. So....
I would like to ask my fellow committee members to support "Thunderbird" by Terry Anderson and The Olympic-Ass Kickin Team for inclusion in the 2016 Pencilstorm Hall of Fame. - Colin Gawel