Hitting Rewind to 1996: Tracy Bonham’s “The Burdens of Being Upright”

Getting ready for a 90s throwback! On the 25th, we’ll be revisiting artists who defined that era. One such artist is Tracy Bonham, whose debut album, “The Burdens of Being Upright,” hit shelves in 1996.

The name might sound familiar – and for good reason! “Mother Mother,” the album’s megahit, dominated alternative radio. While Bonham’s career didn’t quite maintain that momentum, “The Burdens of Being Upright” was a gem with many hidden treasures.

Fast forward to 2000. Tracy Bonham was on tour, and her band swung through Madison. As a volunteer at radio station WORT, I had the chance to attend their in-studio session (not on a Tuesday, by the way!).

Having seen a few studio sessions before, I wanted to make this one special. WORT is conveniently located near The Echo Tap, a bar that (back then) allowed takeout. So, I sent my girlfriend to grab some beers for the band – around $100 worth, I believe.

There was a rule about alcohol at the station: it was okay on the premises, but not in the broadcast area. In our enthusiasm (and perhaps a bit of carelessness), we all overlooked this. The band was playing right in the broadcast room, and guess what? Their tiny Marshall amp was perched on a case of Blue Moon to get it to the right height!

Someone supposedly recorded the broadcast on cassette, but those days are long gone. Regardless, let’s just say there might have been a stray beer audible on-air.

Despite the (minor) rule-breaking, Tracy and the band were awesome. We hung out on the back porch like old friends. A few days later, we even followed them to Cedar Rapids to see their set (but honestly, we spent most of the time backstage chatting and enjoying some post-show drinks with them).


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