Listen to the Puyallup

Concerts in the Poo take me back to 1982

By Angela Jossy on September 6, 2007

My friend Billy, a Puyallup resident, recently referred to his home town affectionately as “The Poo.” “Life is good in the Poo,” he said. I’ll never be able to think of Puyallup in the same way again. In 1982, The Puyallup Fair was a lot like it is now. It’s thankfully one of few things around here that hasn’t changed very much over the years.

In the summer of ‘82 “Abracadabra” by Steve Miller and “Whip It” by Devo came into my life. I was just a kid, and my older brothers were the barometer of all things cool. My family still jokes about how the beat from my brother’s stereo vibrated up from the basement causing my father’s console TV to blink upstairs. For me, our basement was a make-shift roller-skating rink, and those two songs were the perfect roller-skating music.

To this day, one song always reminds me of the other. They are filed away in my brain the same way the 45s given to me by my brother were filed next to my record player. This week, coincidentally, they are both filed in my things-to-write-about bin because the Steve Miller Band and Devo will both perform during the Puyallup Fair, Sept. 20 and 21, respectively.

Devo considered themselves a performance art band. Their songwriting and videos were intentional demonstrations of their belief that mankind was de-evolving. The reason they dressed alike was to artistically convey the lack of individuality they perceived in the world. Ironically, this made them seem pretty unusual. “Whip It” was Devo’s only mainstream hit.

What interests me about the Steve Miller Band is his song “The Joker” with the lyrics “pompatus of love,” which became a pop culture phrase heard in TV shows “The Simpsons” and “South Park,” a movie titled “The Pompatus of Love” starring Jon Cryer, and a quote by Wolfman Jack in a song by the Who. Turns out Miller was just mispronouncing the phrase “puppetutes of love” which he copped from a song released in 1954 called “The Letter” by rhythm and blues singer Vernon Green. Green said puppetutes meant “a secret paper-doll fantasy figure who would be my everything and bear my children.”

Coincidentally, 1982 was also an important year for another performer in this year’s Puyallup Fair concert line-up. That was the year Weird Al Yankovic released his very first parody song: “I Love Rocky Road” an ode to ice cream inspired by Joan Jett’s “I Love Rock-n-Roll.”

The Puyallup Fair is always the harbinger of autumn and something to look forward to after the first week or two of back-to-school jitters. Besides carnival games, good food, interesting exhibits, scary rides, live music, livestock and cowboys on horseback, you can count on cowboys on microphones. Cowboy Clint Black will perform Sept. 11. Big and Rich with Muzik Mafia featuring Cowboy Troy and Two Foot Fred will perform Sept. 19, and the cowgirls of country music will be represented by Reba McEntire on Sept. 14.

By the way, McEntire reached new heights with her song, “I’m Not That Lonely Yet,” when it rose to No. 3 on the singles chart in 1982.

No word yet if the Puyallup Fair will reinstate 1982 concert prices.

For a complete line-up of Puyallup Fair concerts, times and prices, visit\">www.the