Songs from the Dragon Wagon, circa 1986 – 1988

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What is the Dragon Wagon? The Dragon Wagon was a lime green 1982 Chrysler station wagon that a friend of mine was given by his parents circa 1986 when he got his license. This was no mere car. It was a chariot … spiriting a group of young men and women off to find parties on Friday and Saturday nights that 50% of the time didn’t exist, 25% of the time existed but had already been busted up by police, 15% of the time existed but had no beer left … but it was that magic 10% of the time when the party was still active … and had beer or other liquid or herbal spirits … that we all sought.

The car was so magical that one night the owner decided to permanently enshrine this vehicle as the Dragon Wagon by using reflector tape on the side to label this vehicle. I don’t know if it was the booze or some other muse that caused him to spell “dragon” as “dragin”. Oh, and he also tried to put the Van Halen symbol on the car, only he got the “H” and the “V” mixed up … which meant he was worshipping “Han Valen.” Laugh all you want to, but worshipping “Han Valen” is way cooler in my book.

I don’t know when this vehicle finally bought the farm. It was either when my friend struck a cable box … or it just died the type of grisly death you hear about in Tom Waits songs … but it was truly a great car. In honor of this vehicle, I am posting songs that I remember hearing in this automobile during pivotal moments of my misspent youth.

“Swan Swan H” – REM

“Cigarette” – The Smithereens

“A Forest” – The Cure

“Beautiful Girl” – Van Halen

“Can’t Get There From Here” – REM

“Copendium” written by Julian Cope

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Many people remember Julian Cope for his mid-1980s solo hit “World Shut Your Mouth” or his stint as lead singer for the post-punk band The Teardrop Explodes.  In recent years, however, Cope has built a formidable reputation as a writer on all matter of subjects, most notably music and antiquities.  His overview of Krautrock (1960s-1970s German psychedelic rock) from 1995, “Krautrocksampler” is considered a classic, even though he refuses to have it republished because of factual errors he’s since discovered and because he claims there are others more knowledgeable than he is.  His antiquities books “The Modern Antiquarian” and “The Megalithic European” have also proven to be very popular.

Cope’s latest book “Copendium” is a massive collection of essays (over 700 pages) culled from Cope’s website that chronicles terrific, but ignored or forgotten music albums, spanning several different genres.  Among the artists that Cope exhaustively writes about: Von LMO, The Electric Eels, Montrose, Pentagram … even a Van Halen bootleg gets a detailed essay.  If you love discovering new music and enjoy great writing, “Copendium” is damn near perfect.