Editor Note: I kept hearing about this particular band from friends over and over. Finally, I drove up to Asheville, NC to meet a few friends who were taking in the show. I must admit, I secretly hid a bit of trepidation. Was I really paying for this? David Peisner's article is enjoyable and brilliantly written. My thanks to Betsy Riley, Editor in Chief of Atlanta magazine.
(Except published with written permission from Atlanta Magazine)
One night in 2012, a man in a Ronald Reagan mask paused beneath a stop sign in the Old Fourth Ward. Armed with a stencil and a can of white spray paint, he transformed the sign into a tribute to a 1978 hit by a mostly forgotten Canadian pop crooner named Gino Vannelli: “I just wanna STOP & tell you what I feel about you, babe.”
“I Just Wanna Stop” is the kind of song whose words most Americans over 40 know despite never consciously choosing to listen to it. After peaking at no. 4 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1978, the tune never quite disappeared, becoming the aural equivalent of a recurring wart. The song found a second life—an endless one, as it turns out—in the musical nether region where the smooth, soft-rock hits of yesteryear remain in heavy rotation. Yes, that’s “Africa” you’re hearing in the dentist’s office. And “What a Fool Believes” in line at CVS. And that faint melody burrowing into your brain while on hold for the next available customer service agent?