When I was a kid the best way to pick music was by rifling through my brother’s album collection. Whatever he was listening to was cool. There was great risk associated with such rifling in the form of an ass-whupping, because of all the places little brother wasn’t allowed, no place was as off-limits as the record collection.
Still, I managed to learn a lot by sneaking into his room and listening to his music, and my biggest junior high discovery ever was Foghat. I’d curl up in his beanbag chair and listen to Night Shift, or maybe swap out Foghat Live and jam to the rock and roll in that big, empty house. I liked Foghat so much I took to carving “Fog” onto the various desks I rotated through in 7th Grade. If you didn’t know what that meant, I was pretty sure there was no need speaking to you.
I jammed on Foghat right up until 1980; I still remember the day. I was standing in a 7-11 at the counter, staring at the albums as I waited to check out. In those days 7-11 sold record albums, true necessities of life along with milk and cigarettes. That’s when I saw Foghat’s new album, “Tight Shoes.” My heart fell down into my socks. I could tell from that album cover that it was going to be a worthless record. What was worse, I knew that they’d never make any good albums again.
I don’t know how I knew, but I was right. “Tight Shoes” got zero airplay and I never heard so much as a single track. Foghat got muscled off the stage thanks to punk and New Wave, and I never heard of them again, and never thought of them again, until a few weeks ago when I started loosening the laces on my cycling shoes. It had occurred to me after reading up on the effect of “pushing down” versus “pulling up” on the pedals that since the pulling up thing was a complete myth, you probably didn’t have to tie your shoes too tightly to get the benefit of pushing down.
I compared notes with Surfer Dan, who confirmed that he never laced his shoes tightly, and so I have spent the last many weeks riding with my lace-ups barely laced. You can’t believe how comfortable it is to barely lace your shoes, and it makes zero difference to pedaling, speed, climbing, sprinting, or anything else. Loose shoes really bump up your foot quality of life, too, releasing pressure on toes and maybe even one day resulting in you not having ten black toenails.
After this great bit of experimentation, well, that’s when I thought of “Tight Shoes” and Foghat, and I wondered if I’d been harsh, abandoning my fave band because of a bad title and lousy album art. First I got on YouTube and listened to a couple of tracks from Night Shift. Yep, them fellers could rock and roll. I hadn’t been wrong about that.
Next I listened to a couple of tracks from “Tight Shoes.” Man, that music sucked. No wonder they fell off the edge of the earth. I thought about having wandered a bit down memory lane and realized, not for the first time, that it’s always rockier than you remember it.
But at least I wear my shoes loose now.
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About Cycling in the South Bay: This the all-things-cycling blog about cycling in the South Bay and cycling in Los Angeles, maintained and authored by me, Seth Davidson, Torrance-based bicycle lawyer, bike racer, and personal injury attorney.