O Positive - Imagine That
I first heard O Positive sometime in the summer of 1990. My mom had come to pick me up from the allegedly-artsy day camp in which I was enrolled, and we drove back home with the windows down and the car radio on. As her car pulled away from the curb, a dreamy, contemplative ballad insinuated its way over the airwaves.
We drove past row houses and city parks, the sparkling ocean merging with the skyline in the far distance. I leaned my cheek against the cool of the safety belt and stretched my arm out the window. The insistent melody and the singer’s gritty-yet-reassuring sigh of a voice seemed made for a balmy summer afternoon. When Mark Parenteau* broke the mood with a station ID, I realized that I’d heard about this band for a few months. The Boston Globe had run a splashy review with a photo a few months prior, and their previous hits “Talk About Love” and a song I initially thought was called “Smoke A Cigarette”** played in ads for the suburban clubs.
At the time I wrote music reviews for a short-lived teen newspaper, PS North Shore. “Modern rock” godheads like the Cure and REM filled my column because they were easy for my readership to find (a few rows down from the odious New Kids on the Block at the Sam Goody in the mall). However, music always seemed like an exotic thing that was made elsewhere. Listening to WBCN and WFNX had opened my ears to local bands, but the Pixies and Throwing Muses weren’t exactly beating a path to play at the neighborhood watering hole.
When I got home, I knew I’d found my new favorite band. With my mom’s permission I called Epic in New York and spoke with one of the publicists about interviewing them for my column. Within a few days, I got a big package with a CD, a press kit about an inch thick, and some stickers. For a kid who still had to buy her review copies at the aforementioned Sam Goody, this felt a little like Christmas. (Stickers, people.) About an hour later, my mom answered the phone and promptly handed it to me.
“Hi, this is Dave Herlihy of O Positive,” the voice on the other end of the line said.
I almost dropped the phone on the floor, but managed to keep my composure long enough to schedule an interview and take down his number. He asked me about the newspaper and my column and addressed me as an equal instead of as a cute kid, which calmed my nerves.
I ran in the next room with jelly knees. My mom high-fived me. This could be the start of something big, I thought.
** = Actually, it was called “With You”. More on this in a bit.