month of 70’s GPM: jet airliner (steve miller band)

the unsolved mystery of the bleeped song… not solved here of course, but part of my memories nonetheless.

i must confess, i adore steve miller band’s 1970s output. i spent hours trying to figure out what the pompatus of love was; i nearly injured myself clapping along with take the money and run;  i loved the eerie goofiness of space cowboy; and i wondered why central jersey girls didn’t get their own special shout-out in keep on rockin’ me.  (don’t get me started on his ’80s output: i am horrified whenever i think of  the rhyme abra, abracadabra, i wanna reach out and grab ya.)

but  jet airliner is probably my favorite of his songs. i could never decide which version i liked better:the AM version i heard on my beloved 77 WABC played a line from the song as funky kicks going down in the city. well, of COURSE they did on AM radio. but on progressive FM stations back in the day, the song was played with it’s original lyrics in it’s original cussing glory: funky shit going down in the city.

in fact, i am mystified by my local FM station (which is about as progressive as someone’s grandpa and as local as McDonalds is, of course; a franchise of some uber national conglomerate), which simply bleeps the word shit. what gives? most of the people who remember the song remember the word shit in it and don’t care. but somehow, the worm has turned and bowdlerization is in order. Dog forbid the kids hear the word shit; nevermind the fact that they often listen to the latest misogynistic and violent music without blinking an eye.

ah well. i always think of my days at leonard baer day camp when i hear jet airliner. ah, the days of playing a game called skibble with shaved-down checkers; swimming lessons; plenty of sports; color war; and the inevitable camp out. 1977, when jet airliner was out, was my last year as a camper; and i remember the camp out vividly. we returned from an evening hayride to see our tents all pulled down and messed about. a radio show came on, warning us that the jersey devil was seen in the area. kids were crying.

i wasn’t.

i recognized the guy on the so-called radio show.  it was my big brother BTD and his  radio voice. i immediately figured things out and stayed quiet. eventually, the proverbial jig was up and all was well. but what fun!

i can’t find a camp like that around here for my kids. every camp is specialized: soccer camp, science camp, skating camp, harry potter camp, etc. it’s a pity. cos every time i hear steve miller telling me he has to be moving on, i realize that time has moved on, too. the world is a different place. too afraid, perhaps, of liabilities (hell, when our camp bus broke down, we WALKED a half mile to the pool and no one managed to get run over in the road!); too afraid of kids losing their educational edge in the summers; too afraid of simple fun.

for better or worse, this song immediately brings me back to those times. i wistfully remember them, and i sadly think about how my kids will probably never experience them.


8 Responses to “month of 70’s GPM: jet airliner (steve miller band)”

  1. Oh dude, I LOVE this song. It always goes on my road-trip mix tapes. 🙂

  2. YES! You are the only person (besides me) who apparently noticed there were two versions of the line “funky kicks goin’ down in the city.” I think the uncensored “Jet Airliner” was my first time hearing profanity on a record. At age 11, it was as shocking and transgressive as GG Allin to me.

    That said, if radio’s worried about the FCC or whatever, I’d rather just hear the “funky kicks” version. Bleeping is more distracting, and “funky kicks” seems like the official version anyway.

  3. oh, and re “rockin ‘me:” he went from phoenix, az ALL THE WAY to tacoma (whoa, all the way up the coast, apparently figuring why bother with seattle)? and then on to philadelphia, atlanta, l.a. and northern ca? you really wanted this guy scamming in your area? dude couldn’t even read a map.

  4. amen on the funky kicks. why not just play the sanitized version? i hate bleeping bleeps.

    and point well taken on the shout out. though remember, i was only about 11 or 12.

  5. I had both “Fly Like and Eagle” and “Book of Dreams.” Saved my pennies for those records. I still have them! I don’t have a turntable, though. God I loved those records. But I can’t listen to Steve Miller now. I outgrew him I guess. Thanks for the memories.

  6. Jet Airliner and all of Steve Miller Band songs take me back to late junior high and early high school years spent in Potomac, Md. I am immediately transported.

  7. I thought I was hearing things – for years on AM I heard the word funky kicks then I heard, or thought I heard, funky shit . So I listened intently next time I heard it on the radio and it was funky kicks so I thought I musta been hearing things. I didn’t own the record and it took me a decade before I realized there was an edited version.

  8. No guts, no glory. Censorship s*cks! Steve Miller ROCKS! What do you expect from a guy who had Les Paul as his godfather???

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