Tag Archives: Rush

Edge Of A Broken Heart: The Runaway Bon Jovi Song

As if Slippery When Wet could have gotten any bigger. Well it COULD have.

 

When we think of 80’s mega albums, Slippery When Wet rubs elbows with Thriller, Purple Rain, Make It BigMadonnaHysteria, Can’t Slow Down, Toto IV, Sports, Born In The U.S.A., and Back In Black.

 

The Bon Jovi Holy Grail spent 8 weeks at #1 (Billboard), 38 weeks within the top 5 albums, became the best selling album in 1987, is among the 100 best selling albums (currently #48) in the United States, and has sold over 12 million copies worldwide.

Richie Sambora’s white Fender Stratocaster

 

Those of us who lived through the New Jersey invasion of the airwaves from Bon Jovi and Bruce Springsteen, remember the 4 singles from Slippery When Wet:

 

You Give Love A Bad Name” (#1)
“Livin’ On A Prayer” (#1)
“Wanted Dead Or Alive” (#7)

 

The above trifecta here gave Slippery When Wet the notable distinction of being the first Glam Metal/Hard Rock album to have 3 top 10 hits. The Hair Metal floodgates opened from there. It was indeed a great time to own stock in Aqua Net.

 

The power ballad, “Never Say Goodbye” was released as the 4th single but not domestically so it wasn’t able the chart on Billboard’s Hot 100.  However it did reach #28 on another chart, the Hot 100 Airplay which measures how often a song is being played on radio stations and more recently streamed online as well.

 

That was the first missed opportunity for another official Bon Jovi single off of Slippery When Wet. The demand was certainly there. The second was “Raise Your Hands”, which was on the soundtrack of the classic 1987 Mel Brooks Star Wars spoof Spaceballsstarring John Candy as Barf, Rick Moranis as Lord Dark Helmet, and a pre Independence Day Bill Pullman as Captain Lone Starr.

 

The movie literally opens up with Bon Jovi. Can anyone picture flying a Winnebago in space without rocking out to “Raise Your Hands?” I mean what the hell did Han and Chewy do on the Millennium Falcon, listen to NPR and knit sweaters? Leave it to a comedy to portray something more accurate,

 

 

But the most egregious lapse in Bon Judgement was not including the amazing track “Edge Of A Broken Heart.” For whatever reason, it missed the tour bus for Slippery When Wet and has been thumbing for a ride in Bon Jovi limbo ever since. It’s a stronger song than many that were included on the album.

 

Slippery When Wet (1986) was the 3rd studio album from Bon Jovi, sandwiched between 7800° Fahrenheit (1985) and New Jersey (1988). It was also the first album they brought in songwriter Desmond Child who co-wrote the album’s 2 biggest tracks “You Give Love A Bad Name” (#1)
“Livin’ On A Prayer” (#1) with Jon and Richie as well as a few others. “Edge Of A Broken Heart” should have been on that list and on the charts.

 

For the longtime Bon Jovi fan or people who just know their songs from the radio, in either case the reaction is the same: WTF?! Why wasn’t this track [“Edge Of A Broken Heart”] released as a single?

 

Slippery When Wet (1986) had 10 songs on it of which 4 were released as singles. For comparison, other albums in this pre-CD era released more songs as singles from their respective albums as shown below:

 

Thriller (Michael Jackson, 1982) 9 tracks 7 singles all becoming top 10 hits, 8 Grammys, best selling album of all time
Can’t Slow Down (Lionel Ritchie, 1983) 8 tracks 5 singles.
Lionel should have released the title track “Can’t Slow Down” as well. It could have been his 6th single.

Back In Black (AC/DC, 1980) 10 tracks 5 singles
Sports (Huey Lewis & The News, 1983) 9 tracks 5 singles
Make It Big (Wham!, 1983) 8 tracks, 4 singles
Purple Rain (Prince, 1984) 9 tracks, 5 singles

Hysteria (Def Leppard, 1987) 12 tracks, 7 singles
Toto IV (Toto, 1982) 10 tracks 4 singles
Born In The U.S.A. (Bruce Springsteen, 1984) 12 tracks, 7 singles all becoming top 10 hits
Madonna (Madonna, 1983) 8 tracks 5 singles
Like A Virgin (Madonna, 1984/85) The 1985 reissue included “Into The Groove”, a track from the 1985 film Desperately Seeking Susan making the album 10 tracks with 6 singles

 




 

“Edge Of A Broken Heart” is chock full of classic Bon Jovi ingredients in their proprietary Jersey Shore stew: David Bryan’s keyboards, Sambora’s crisp crunchy power guitar parts, Jon singing a few long notes during the verses (the words “I’m” and “Now” in both verses of the song) teasing us for the bigger payoff we know he’ll deliver come chorus time.

 

The same kind of vocal hook was used in the verses of “You Give Love A Bad Name”:

Oh, oh, you’re a loaded gun
Oh, oh, there’s nowhere to run

 

This singing device is so Bon Jovi and we drink it up like like bacon flavored Kool-Aid, ready to become drooling rock zombies wearing overpriced tour T-shirts. The nutrition label on this track indeed gives us more than a full days RDA of RAWK—and you’ll still find yourself wanting second helpings of this lost hit.

 

There’s also the “Bon Jovi build” which starts up the song with Tico Torres drums, Sambora’s guitar riff and Bryan’s keyboard work until the band enters in for a full tidal wave of fun smiley 80’s rock before it recedes and gets calm again to let Jon sing about the latest fictionalized Femme fatale that crossed paths with a peaceful tour bus just trying to spread the Gospel of Rock & Roll. The lyrics even mention “Private Dancer” another classic 80’s hit/album from Tina Turner.

 

Then there’s the deluxe call and response vocal parts during the chorus between Jon and the band’s backing vocals giving us a double shot of satisfying volleyball of energy for the ears:

 

Bon Jovi Tickets

 

 

Rock chemists the world over have devised strategic formulas over the years and “Edge Of A Broken Heart” uses a tried and true mixture: The Root, Four, Five chord progression (AKA I IV V)—A classic example  being “Louie, Louie” by The Kingsmen.

 

Another well known chord progression is Root, Five, Four (I V VI) like Baba O’ Riley by The Who better known by as “Teenage Wasteland.”

Chords in Baba O’ Riley:  F  C  Bb  (1 5 4  or I V IV)

Chords in Edge Of A Broken Heart:  E  B  A     E  B  B  C#  A  (1 5 4   1 5 5 6 4  or  I V VI    I V V VI IV)

 

You can see and hear the first part of the chord progression is the same as Baba O’ Riley but just one note lower.

“Edge Of A Broken Heart” is also in the key of E Major like a few other classic rock tunes:

“Limelight” by Rush

“Don’t Stop Believin'” by Journey

 

So Slippery When Wet COULD have had a total of 6 singles released by our count here.




Savvy Glam/Hair Metal fans will know the band Vixen also had a song in 1988 of the same name off their debut album Vixen which peaked at #26 .  This “Edge Of A Broken Heart” was actually written by two other 80’s vocalists/songwriters: Richard Marx and Fee Waybill of The Tubes. Richard Marx actually co–produced the album.

 

As you can see, the #MeToo movement back in the 80’s involved sharing each other’s hair care products as well as song titles:

 

 

But you can’t copyright a title. And Bon Jovi also has song called “Runaway” which Del Shannon had a hit with back in 1961. “Runaway” is one of the “Carpal Tunnel Classics” where there’s Eternal triplet notes for keyboard players like Toto’s “Hold The Line” where a bucket of warm epsom salt is a welcome spa treatment after a gig for your wrist.

 

A fun trivia tidbit here is Steve Vai is married to former Vixen bassist Pia Maiocco (playing the red guitar in the above video). They met at Berklee College of Music in Boston. Richard Marx makes a cameo as well at the 2:41 mark.

 

The Bon Jovi “Edge Of A Broken Heart” was included on the 1987 film Disorderlies starring The Fat Boys who are best known for the single “Wipe Out” (1987) with The Beach Boys doing back up vocals. It was a rap using The Surfaris 1963 hit instrumental of the same name.

 

And speaking of films, there’s an interesting connection with drummer Tico Torres. He was also a studio player for fellow New Jersey band Franke and the Knockouts who are best known for their 1981 hit “Sweetheart” which reached #10.

 

Namesake and lead singer Franke Previte also went on to have a few of his tunes appear in movies like his Bon Jovi brother. Previte is co–writer (along with John DeNicola and Donald Markowitz) of “Hungry Eyes” and “(I’ve Had) The Time Of My Life” which were the anchor tunes on the classic 80’s film Dirty Dancing (1987) with Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey.

 

The original versions were recorded by Franke and the Knockouts but went onto greater acclaim as covers by Eric Carmen (#4 in 1987) and Bill Medley (of The Righteous Brothers) & Jennifer Warnes (#1 in 1987) respectively. The later won an Academy Award, Golden Globe and a Grammy.

 

Looking back, 1986 and 1987 were great years for both New Jersey bands. And here we are some 30 years later coming full circle from when Bon Jovi seemingly took over the world on a steel horse. The funny irony of Slippery When Wet was that it had massive international success with one of the cheapest album covers EVER. Just a step up from Metallica’s The Black Album, where Jon write “Slippery When Wet” on a wet trash bag.

 

So with that, we extend an esteemed “Shock to the Hearty” congratulations to Bon Jovi for making it into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Class of 2018. A photographer I know worked on the New Jersey tour and had nothing but positive things to say about them. It’s always a bonus when people who aren’t a bunch of arrogant egomanics get a deserved honor. Jon is an authentic humanitarian who has his own charity feeding homeless/low income people as well as homeless veterans:

JBJ Soul Kitchen (www.jbjsoulkitchen.org)

Jon Bon Jovi Soul Foundation (www.jonbonjovisoulfoundation.org)

 

Oh and Jon has stated this lost Bon Jovi tune should have been included on Slippery When Wet and actually apologized believe it or not. So they’ll have to answer for the “Edge Of A Broken Heart” transgression on Bon Judgement Day, but in the meantime, we can forgive them because we’ve found their missing runaway.

© Composer Yoga


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Awesome 80s Albums You May Have Overlooked

Closet Singles: Billy Idol “Hole In The Wall”

Sound Mines: The Outfield “Taking My Chances”

Sound Mines: Prince “Mountains”

George Michael: The Careless Whisperer

Closet Singles: The Outfield “New York City”

Yoda’s iPod: “When Doves Cry” By Prince

 

Recommended:

Hair Metal Joke (Hair Metal And Horror Movies)

Hair Metal Joke (Hair Metal Salad)

Prince Joke (Little Red Corvette)

The Prince Prophecy & The Let’s Go Crazy Code




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I Believe In Father Christmas: It’s Not Christmas Until Greg Lake Says So

Count me among the esteemed club that this is their favorite Christmas song of all time.

 

I like it even more than John Lennon’s “Happy Xmas (War Is Over).”

Even more than Sir Paul McCartney’s “Wonderful Christmastime.”

Even more than “Silver Bells” (made famous by Andy Williams then Bing Crosby) which I’ve performed with my Grandfather on vocals.

Even more than “Little Saint Nick” by The Beach Boys.

Even more than Wham’s “Last Christmas.”

Even more than other perennial pop favorites like Brenda Lee’s “Rocking Around The Christmas Tree” and The Waitresses’ Christmas rock classic “Christmas Wrapping.”

 

Yep, I like all those quite a bit too so you know I’m not some morose Emo Shoegazing Scrooge when it comes to holiday music.

 

So why is Greg my YuleBox Hero? Because “I Believe In Father Christmas” hits deeper musically and lyrically than anything else I’ve heard. It’s truly a heavyweight Christmas song in it’s unequivocally arresting sincerity and thematic undercurrents. Let’s put a red nosed spotlight on this tune, make a list and check it twice.

 

The Greg Lake Effect

The haunting sincerity of Greg Lake’s voice was the first thing that captured my ear years ago. There’s a timeless quality to this song as if it exists outside any particular decade or time period. I’ve loved this song long before I understood its lyrics and meanings.

“I Believe In Father Christmas” paints frosted dreamy windows peering into canvases of Christmas pasts.

 

There’s a resemblance in mood and tonal sacredness to Simon and Garfunkel’s “Scarbourough Fair”, another song which has echoed in the recesses of my memories since childhood.

 

Greg Lake’s meditative ode on the Christmas Spirit stands the test of time exceptionally well—It’s just as pleasing for me to hear now as when I anxiously awaited the arrival of the traditionally pictured type II diabetic Saint Nick and gifts from his pint sized North Pole posse. And I wasn’t helping things leaving cookies.




Folk Sensibility

The folk sensibility of this song is palpably and unmistakenly devastating. It’s disarming, unifying and asks deeper questions beyond the reflexive shop and buy holiday routines. It dares to be confrontational and does so softly through a folk song.

 

“I Believe In Father Christmas” is folk singer Greg in his finest form just like on “Lucky Man” and “From The Beginning” with Emerson Lake & Palmer (ELP). Other examples of his folk stylings include “I Talk To The Wind” and “Epitaph” with King Crimson.

 

It’s the same brutal honesty and unpretentious delivery to your ears that’s a Greg Lake trademark no matter genre he sings in. It’s a simultaneously therapeutic and cathartic craftsmanship of sound.

 

The acoustic guitar melody is a soft intimate fireplace and the deep synth bed that comes in on the second verse becomes warm grounding covers to tuck yourself happily under and let out sighs of relief, gratitude and contentment.

 

Greg’s heart piercing Psalm is undeniable. His vocals are a tuning fork of resonant re–centering for the all too common mindless treadmill stress paced lifestyles people accept as “normal” while drinking half their body weight in coffee before lunch.

 

Plus with the steroidal retail season which tends to overplay holiday music starting midnight on Thanksgiving, “I Believe In Father Christmas” is one of the songs I’m ALWAYS glad to accidentally hear in a store or on the radio:

 

Meanings and Themes

“I Believe In Father Christmas” was written by Greg Lake and Peter Sinfield, who wrote lyrics Greg sang with King Crimson and ELP.

 

As with these kinds of writer/singer relationships like Bernie Taupin and Elton John and Neil Peart and Geddy Lee, there often is not only a divergence of opinion, but a myriad of meanings. This happens because one person writes lyrics while another sings them so there’s a fusion of interpretations and meanings.

 

Sinfield wrote the lyrics about the loss of innocence and childhood belief towards Christmas. For Greg Lake, he sees and sings about the over commercialization of Christmas which drowns out the more elevated meanings of peace and goodwill towards everyone.

 

I can see both meanings in the song. The disillusionment is out in the open in Peter Sinfield’s lyrics yet it poetically walks the tightrope over the pitfalls of cynicism:

 

They said there’ll be snow at Christmas
They said there’ll be peace on Earth
But instead it just kept on raining
A veil of tears for the Virgin birth

They sold me a dream of Christmas
They sold me a silent night
And they told me a fairy story
’till I believed in the Israelite

And I believed in Father Christmas
And I looked to the sky with excited eyes
’till I woke with a yawn in the first light of dawn
And I saw him and through his disguise

 

 

It’s a deceptively simple song when you first meet it—I appreciate it much more fully now having years of built up perspective to match it. The lyrics unravel wrapped up memories and allow the listener to superimpose a myriad of images from their own ghosts of Christmas past. This is particularly the case with the following verse:

 

I remember one Christmas morning
A winter’s light and a distant choir
And the peal of a bell and that Christmas tree smell
And their eyes full of tinsel and fire

 




The Sting Effect

Call it the Sting effect. slipping in really brutal lyrics in an unassuming pop sounding song. The Police classic example being “Every Breath You Take.” Which actually, Greg Lake preceded it with “Lucky Man” over a decade earlier in 1970.

 

“I Believe In Father Christmas” opens itself up in layers over time. It connects on multiple levels as I experienced as I got older. It’s rare for a song that allows you to grow into it and unwrap deeper meanings and nuances. It baits you with multicolored hooks. It has a pleasant outer covering but then there’s some disturbing subjects inside which need deeper examination.

 

As with songs like these, the listener will shift to confront the darkness they elicit when they are comfortable doing so. The songs can be enjoyed and connect with listeners on multiple levels.

 

Universal Themes

There’s a lake of emotion behind what Greg Lake sings about and his vocals are only the release pressure valve. There’s something far more massive behind just the words that’s at stake. As he sings, he inverts one particular day to a universal, to a planetary level and not just the holiday of one particular religious faith.

 

Greg Lake’s normally upliftingly positive vocal affectation also tempers what could have been a sleighwreck of horror and nihilistic negativity in the hands of another less versatile vocalist. With Greg Lake, no matter how negative the subject matter, you could always hear the hope in his voice, the light inside dark places. This is especially the case with the closing verse and lyrics of the song:

I wish you a hopeful Christmas
I wish you a brave new year
All anguish pain and sadness
Leave your heart and let your road be clear

Hallelujah Noel be it Heaven or Hell
The Christmas we get we deserve

 

This is the part of the song which has brought my eyes to tears. It’s the pairing of Greg’s singing and these words. Think of another vocalist who can sing these words and mean it like Greg Lake. It takes a singer the depth of Greg Lake to pull it off believably. He’s not flashy, he’s not the typical “rock star”, he’s a genuinely honest singer who lives inside what he sings.

 

The “I wish” verse is a beautiful prayer hidden in a pop song.  An overture to a larger common humanity that is beyond “isms” and temporary identities false distinctions.

 

It even has some Sergei Prokofiev (The Russian composer known for Peter And The Wolf) thrown in for good measure. The “bell melody” in between the verses is an excerpt from Prokofiev’s Lieutenant Kijé Suite, which was Keith Emerson’s idea.

 

Prog Gnosis of Christmas

“I Believe In Father Christmas” was Greg Lake’s first solo track released in November 1975. The music video for the track was filmed in the Sinai peninsula of Egypt and also the caves where the Dead Sea Scrolls were found. There’s also footage of the Vietnam War which was still fermenting it’s bitterness into the global culture at large.

 

Like George Michael and Andrew Ridgeley’s “Last Chrismtmas”, “I Believe In Father Christmas” also went to #2 on the UK singles chart. The band that kept it from number one was Queen with their epic track “Bohemian Rhapsody”, another very early music video pre–MTV.

 

So what does Prog know about Christmas? It seems more than mere stocking stuffers for deservedly titled Godfathers of Prog Greg Lake and Peter Sinfield. Actually Sinfield also wrote a Christmas song for members of another legendary Prog band named Yes (bassist Chris Squire and drummer Alan White). The track is called “Run With The Fox” and is written in more of a lighter upbeat holiday vibe:

 

 




So if the Prog world is still waiting for Rush to weigh in on a holiday track, I guess we’ll all have to wait for
“The Christmas Spirit Of Radio.” In the meantime, here’s some winter safety tips fromGeddy Lee:

 

So  remember the message from Saints Peter & Greg in “I Believe In Father Christmas” and have the wonderful Christmas you deserve.  And try to deserve it more each year by shedding more light into darkness you find inside and out.

 

Because like the opening line in ELP’s “Karn Evil 9 (1st Impression Part 2)”, “Welcome back my friends to the show that never ends. We’re so glad you could attend, come inside, come inside”, you want people to enjoy life with and have them be warm and welcoming towards you around the Holidays and beyond.

 

And hopefully for those of you who live in areas where weather permits, as Greg Lake would likely paraphrase, “See the snow, see the snow!!”

 

© Composer Yoga

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Awesome 80s Albums You May Have Overlooked

Count me among the minority who truly likes all genres of music and yes, no ones going to drive a bulldozer over my disco CD’s either. F*ck no. Not Donna Summer! Not Saturday Night Fever! I’ll be like the famous photo of the student in Tiananmen Square facing the tank. And a guitarist friend of mine who’s toured with Arlo Guthrie and other Folk legends like Willie Nelson will join me in solidarity and brotherhood here as he is a die hard Bee Gees fan too. So there. Say what you want about Barry Gibb’s “faggy falsetto” voice in misdirected machismo, he’s a great songwriter. Grease is the Word, brothers and sisters. Barry wrote that. See now you can’t possibly make fun of him out of ignorance anymore.

 

Okay. Moving on. Since plenty of my family and friends are 80’s freaks, I felt it appropriate to give out some suggestions for 80’s music lovers everywhere still lost in the land of Loverboy headbands. Which by the way yours truly has seen and they are fantastic as well as TONS of fun live.

 

Actually, the Archangel of 80’s music, Archangel Flockofsegulliel commanded me to enlighten the masses an iota (technically, more than a tad). So it is by Divine Decree I write this article. You’re probably asking “So how’s things in your padded cell?” Couldn’t be better. Cable TV, internet. Thanks for asking.

 

Anyhow, another reason that lead to this list was a musical comrade and I were talking about our Desert Island Discs, a concept of which has since been negated by the invention of the iPod. I then thought about the more obscure albums most people don’t know about from the era of music known as New Wave or 80’s.

 

My friend rightly calls The Cure’s Disintegration “a gift to Humanity.” Indeed, but the average 80’s fan knows about that album. I’m partial to the Cure’s Faith too. It’s got the grooves I need to “Let the coolness flow into our vertebrae” in the words of a Mel Brooks film History Of The World Part I.

 

In fact, years ago I developed complications due to wisdom teeth extractions. I got a post op infection and had to take heavy painkillers every 4 hours. I remember one night sitting in my living room after the painkillers whisked me away to groggy land while listening to The Cure. Boy did Mr. Smith’s music make so much sense to me then. It occurred to me that I was very near to the state most of it was written in and from. Robert Smith has stated he doesn’t remember writing or recording the Pornography album because he was so strung out on heroin. My friend does a fantastic Robert Smith impersonation of this interview blurb complete with the British inflection “That’s the album I don’t remember writing.”

 

In the same vein (pun intended), author William Burroughs doesn’t remember writing Naked Lunch, the novel which gave Steely Dan their name.  Yes they remain the only Grammy Award winning act named after a dildo. So that said, let’s stop talking track marks and start talking tracks!

 

Saga

Worlds Apart (1981)

Heads Or Tails (1983)

Saga is an oh-so-underrated Canadian band that you should definitely know more about. This is intelligent yet danceable grooving Proggy New Wave from Canada. They do other things up there besides play hockey and drink Molson you know. Seems Billboard needs to be reminded that Canada exists from time to time.  Listener’s also need to be tipped off that there are other acts from the Great White North besides Rush, Bryan Adams, The Guess Who, Joni Mitchell, Gordon Lightfoot, and Neil Young.  Oh and surprise, that other band I mentioned earlier, Loverboy also wear maple leaf underwear too.

 

Saga is reminiscent of the Power Pop style of The Outfield but with way more keyboards. I put them in the same category as far as energy vibe and positivity goes. They have over 20 studio albums in their catalog and have been recording for over 35 years. They’re only a one hit wonder to boneheads who wait to be spoon fed singles by MTV, commercial radio and record companies . They won a Juno award in 1982 (The Canadian version of a Grammy) after this album dropped for Most Promising Group Of The Year. Our friends Loverboy still hold the record for 6 Junos in one year, so rock those red Mike Reno headbands with pride kids because they are indeed a symbol of Canadian recording industry royalty.

 

Saga had two singles released that got some airplay off of Worlds Apart, their 4th album: “Wind Him Up” and their biggest single “On the Loose” which peaked at #26 on Billboard. However, in “On the Loose” much of the instrumental solo section was chopped off to fit the anal retentive 4 minute radio decree from Mount Sinai which is of course the Eleventh Commandment. One hopes the karmic entertainment in hell people for such song sushi chefs consists of Lynyrd Skynyrd, Led Zeppelin, Golden Earring and the Grateful Dead among others. The Beatles fell from grace too with “Hey Jude.” Thankfully Saga was saved from eternal damnation here but you can hear the song in it’s entirety safely on the album.

 

Another track which I always groove out to on the album, “No Stranger” could have also been released as a single. But again, the slower intro/build section topping 2 minutes would have been seen as “dead space” to commercial radio and would have been chopped off by the radio station sushi chefs.

 

Another Saga album from the 80’s you should definitely own is Heads Or Tales. It perfectly showcases why I love the guitar player in this band, Ian Crichton. He has such a physicality to his licks, riffs and solos. Ian’s playing is very animated and slippery with notes and phrasing. Listen to my favorite tune off this album “Catwalk” for an example of this. There’s a visual animation to his style almost as if the music was made for a soundtrack to a film but can surely stand on it’s own without accompanying visual images.

 

By this I don’t mean overacted facial expressions, atomic windmills or overdone stage gestures. I’m talking about the Holy manipulation of soundwaves. The producer on these Saga albums was Rupert Hine. Yes, you may know the name from your The Fixx albums. What you don’t have any The Fixx albums? No Howard Jones either? You need remedial ’80s then. You can chew gum and throw paper airplanes in that course. This article is for those who know about the Journeys, Loverboys and Madonnas already.

 

For you ’80s 201 students, Rupert Hine is a Composer/Producer who has also recorded his own albums. They tend to be hard to come by. One of the songs you’re probably familiar with if you’ve seen a bunch of John Cusack movies is “With One Look (The Wildest Dream)” off the Better Off Dead soundtrack which plays during the end credits. This is a quirky classic 80’s movie I’ve seen probably 900 times:

 

“Two dollars!”

“Go that way really fast, if something gets in your way, turn.”

 

See I told you. Rupert Hine wrote much of original soundtrack and the title track mentioned here features The Fixx vocalist Cy Curnin and guitarist Jaime West-Oram. A Saga track on Heads Or Tales that sounds like it could have just as easily been a Fixx tune or a Rupert Hine solo track is “Scratching The Surface.” There’s often a lot of “musical overlap” with Producers and the groups they write and work with, and you can get a decent 80’s Fixx (haha) with any of these.




 

Tubeway Army

Replicas (1979)

A seeming technicality on the album release date of April 1979, but New Wave and the music considered ’80s actually started in the late 1970’s. Before you knew him singing about “Cars” Gary Numan was in this group. “Cars” is a classic 80’s track, a song where drums accent on the 4 and by a white British guy before 1980. Wow. I’m speechless.

 

Replicas is a science fiction epic which you can nicely zone out to. I heard this album on college radio and had to pick it up. Thanks WRPI!! College radio is a beacon of actual music variety even more so than internet radio which tends to be just one genre per station just like commercial radio.

 

Although Replica’s lyrics and themes are science fiction, don’t let that turn you off. It’s not inaccessible, overdone and definitely not 80’s campy (but still fun) as Styx’s Kilroy Was Here (Domo Arigato Mr. Roboto–Japanese for “Thank You Very Much…”). There’s some really cool keyboard work on Replicas as far as 80’s goes–several tracks on par or exceeding “Cars” in my opinion. That being because essentially Tubeway Army was pretty much all Gary writing. Some of my favorite tracks on Replicas are “Are ‘Friends’ Electric?” which was released as a single and reached #1 in the UK, “You Are In My Vision”, “It Must Have Been Years”, and  the bonus tracks off the 1997 and 2008 Beggars Banquet reissues “We Are So Fragile” and “We Have A Technical.” The 80’s synth on this album will put a Miami vicegrip on your eardrums.

 

Utopia

Oblivion (1984)

P.O.V. (1985)

Utopia was a project of Todd Rundgren, another writer/producer known for singing “Hello it’s Me” and “Bang the Drum All Day.” Don’t we all Todd. And what do Grand Funk Railroad’s We’re An American Band and Meat Loaf’s Bat Out Of Hell have in common? Todd produced those albums among others. Not too shabby for a boy from Pennysylvania hey? I guess Hall & Oates, CinderellaPaul Gilbert (Mr. Big) and Poison carried that states pride in the 80’s too.

 

Todd also wrote “Love is the Answer” and Utopia recorded it on Oops! Wrong Planet, then England Dan And John Ford Coley recorded it shortly afterwards and that’s the version everyone is used to hearing on the radio. Yup, the Carole King Effect strikes again.

 

The Carole King Effect: When you write a song, record it and later somebody else records it but makes 10 times the money you did.

 

Carole wrote it first dammit!! So if you want to protest outside BMI headquarters there’s some picket sign

suggestions.

 

Anyhow, 2 Utopia albums any 80’s collection is lonely without are Oblivion and P.O.V. Really any album by Utopia is worth checking out. Rhino records released a double CD a few years back called P.O.V., Oblivion & Some Trivia. It has both albums plus the 2 new tracks from the Trivia compilation album. This is a great starting point to get you into this under the radar late 70’s-80’s group. This CD is also worth it for the song “Fix Your Gaze.”

 

The 2 albums included on this release have some of the coolest Utopia songs on them. EVERYONE in Utopia sang lead vocals so you get a variety of singers and really fat full multi part harmonies. The musicians Todd had with him in Utopia were professional touring musicians and session players as well. Keyboardist/vocalist Roger Powell for one toured with David Bowie. Bassist/vocalist Kasim Sulton toured with Meat Loaf (bassist on the Bat Out Of Hell album), Hall And Oates, and Joan Jett (was a Blackheart). So I’d say there’s a tad more than garage band creds here folks.

 

Some of the tracks on these albums that rock 80’s style are “Bring Me My Longbow”“Crybaby” ,“Welcome to My Revolution”  and “Winston Smith Takes It on the Jaw” from Oblivion and “Zen Machine” and “More Light” off of P.O.V. There’s plenty of lost 80’s gold buried on these albums. It’s like totally an 80’s tragedy that NONE of the tracks off of Oblivion were released as singles. There’s some absolutely slamming uptempo tracks like the ones listed above as well as some amazing slower introspective tracks like If “I Didn’t Try”“Maybe I Could Change” (which has a gorgeous piano arpeggio intro) and “I Will Wait.” Still, the album charted in the US at the number 74 position despite the lack of a single. If it had even one single, it would have climbed higher instead of getting lost in the oblivion of radio station shelves.

 

I’m not sorry I own any of these 80’s albums and you won’t be either. Mike Reno gives his blessing for you to own them as well. Some I found in bargain bins, which just goes to prove the old axiom one man’s trash is another man’s treasure, and with music, one man’s earwax is another man’s earworm.

© Composer Yoga




 

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The Colors Of Rock: Songs

A list of songs on the palette making The Colors Of Rock (updated periodically)

18 Yellow Roses (Bobby Darin)
99 Luftballons/Red Balloons (Nena)
All Cats Are Grey (The Cure)
Baby Makes Her Blue Jeans Talk (Dr. Hook)
Back In Black (AC/DC)
Bad, Bad Leroy Brown (Jim Croce)
Big Yellow Taxi (Joni Mitchell)
Black Celebration (Depeche Mode)
Black And Blue (Van Halen)
Black Cat (Janet Jackson)
Black Cow (Steely Dan)
Black Diamond (Kiss)
Black Is Black (Los Bravos)
Black Night (Deep Purple)
Black Water (The Doobie Brothers)
Blue Collar Man (Styx)
Blue Eyes (Elton John)
Blue Eyes Crying In The Rain (Willie Nelson)
Blue Jean (David Bowie)
Blue On Black (Kenny Wayne Shepard)
Blue Suede Shoes (Elvis Presley)
Bluer Than Blue (Michael Johnson)
Brown Eyed Girl (Van Morrison)
Brown Shoes (Frank Zappa)
Brown Sugar (The Rolling Stones)
Caribbean Blue (Enya)
Crystal Blue Persuasion (Tommy James & The Shondells)
Colour My World (Chicago)
Desert Rose (Eric Johnson)
Don't Eat the Yellow Snow (Frank Zappa)
Don't It Make My Brown Eyes Blue (Crystal Gayle)
Fade to Black (Metallica)
Goodbye Yellow Brick Road (Elton John)
Green Earrings (Steely Dan)
Green Eyed Lady (Sugarloaf)
Green Green Grass Of Home (Johnny Darrell, Porter Wagoner, Bobby Bare, Tom Jones)
Green Light (Lorde)
Green Onions (Booker T. & The M.G.s)
Green Tinted Sixties Mind (Mr. Big)
Gold (John Stewart)
Golden Lady (Stevie Wonder)
Golden Slumbers (The Beatles)
Lady In Red (Chris Deburgh)
I Saw Red (Warrant)
Indigo Eyes (Peter Murphy)
It's Not Easy Being Green (Kermit the Frog)
Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini (Brian Hyland)
Little Red Corvette (Prince)
Mellow Yellow (Donovan)
Men In Black (Will Smith)
Midnight Blue (Lou Graham)
Mr. Brownstone (Guns N' Roses)
Orange Crush (R.E.M.)
Paint It Black (The Rolling Stones)
Pink Cadillac (Bruce Springsteen, Natalie Cole)
Pink Houses (John Cougar Mellencamp)
Purple Haze (The Jimi Hendrix Experience)
Purple People Eater (Sheb Wooley)
Purple Rain (Prince)
Red Barchetta (Rush)
Red House (The Jimi Hendrix Experience)
Red Sector A (Rush)
Red Skies (The Fixx)
Song Sung Blue (Neil Diamond)
Tie A Yellow Ribbon Round The Old Oak Tree (Tony Orlando and Dawn)
Touch Of Grey (The Grateful Dead)
True Blue (Madonna)
True Colors (Cyndi Lauper, Phil Collins)
Still Got The Blues (Gary Moore)
White Rabbit (Jefferson Airplane)
White Room (Cream)
Yellow (Coldplay)
Yellow Flicker Beat (Lorde)
Yellow Submarine (The Beatles)

© Composer Yoga

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It’s Not the Chorus! (Where The Song Title Is Not The Chorus)

A list of songs whose title (or part of it) is sung in the lyrics but not in the chorus (updated periodically)

867–5309/Jenny [Tommy Tutone, you dialed it–admit it!]
Atlanta Lady (Something About Your Love) [Marty Balin]
Baker Street [Gerry Rafferty]
Careless Whisper [George Michael]
Dreams [Fleetwood Mac]
Escape [Metallica]
Foolish Beat [Debbie Gibson]
I.G.Y. (What A Beautiful World) [Donald Fagen]
Major Tom (Coming Home) [Peter Schilling]
Phantom Of The Opera [Iron Maiden]
Red Barchetta [Rush]
The Trooper [Iron Maiden]
Tom Sawyer [Rush]

 

© Composer Yoga

Entertainment Earth




Rock/Pop Finance: Songs

A list of songs that draw their name from the world of finance (updated periodically)

Bitches & Money (Master P featuring The Real Untouchables)
For the Love of Money (The O’Jays , Utopia)
Gold (John Stewart & Stevie Nicks)
Last Dollar On Earth (Utopia)
Lawyers, Guns and Money (Warren Zevon)
Money (Pink Floyd)
Money For Nothing (Dire Straits)
Money Talks (AC/DC)
Take The Money And Run (Steve Miller Band)
The Big Money (Rush)
Rich Girl (Hall & Oates)

© Composer Yoga

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Ghost Title Songs

Ghost Title Songs: Where the title is NOWHERE to be found lyrically and nebulously floating in the ether (updated periodically)

5150 (Van Halen)
A Sort Of Homecoming (U2)
Baba O'Riley (The Who)
Long Train Runnin' (The Doobie Brothers)
Ride The Lightning (Metallica)
She Sells Sanctuary (The Cult)
Texas Flood (Stevie Ray Vaughn)
The Clairvoyant (Iron Maiden)
The Trooper (Iron Maiden)
Witch Hunt (Rush)

© Composer Yoga

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When In Doubt, Listen To Man With Longer Beard #29: Meditation, Aphorisms & Yoga Sage Brushes With Wisdom

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What follows is a grocery list of things I’ve learned from life and various approaches to living exploring Creativity & Spirituality—being an artist, student of meditation, regular fasting & yoga, internal yearning towards higher consciousness and becoming a more creative being for positive transformation. These are general principles and observations I try to live by and navigate the wilderness of Maya with. Some are Confucius sounding hence the jest with the title if the long bearded Chinese sage wanted to narcissistically self–aggrandize himself.

Here’s the twenty–ninth batch of Zen BrowniesTasty, mouth–watering morsels to reduce consumption of bad karma and sweeten the recipe of your life:

 

1. Recorded history is just the current pop music on the planet. It’s also anthropocentric. There’s all this other music the planet has heard that people never will.

2. The war that matters most is liberation from your ego. Turn the binoculars inward to find where the real enemies and traitors are.

3. If you’re always in a hurry, how in control of your life are you? People think it makes them important when in reality makes them numb, distracted and asleep. It makes people’s consciousness scattered and paper thin. If you are truly in control of your life, then you wouldn’t be in a rush or hurry all the time.

4. Junk food is addictive and nutrient deficient, the perfect combination to have long term customers which is the intent at the price of your long term health.

5. You can have feelings. Don’t let them have you.

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6. Money, knowledge and power in the hands of degenerated thinking is a vineyard of evil.

7. Don’t waste time with the secondhand battles of the ego. They’re just diversionary skirmishes keeping you in the prison of it’s identities of race, country, religion and gender wearing the blindfold of pride.

8. The inside jokes of the Universe are so worth it.

9. There’s Higher Consciousness and then there’s “success” here. The level of consciousness needed to become a millionaire or billionaire isn’t very high. The fact remains you cannot buy Higher Consciousness with money.

10. When you take off the blindfold of ignorance, don’t be surprised it was you who was the assassin of your Soul.

© Composer Yoga

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Talking To Your Bandmates During The Song Vol. 1

For those unfamiliar with our organization, DPAC, the Dork Prevention Advisory Committee has been entrusted with the ardent task of upholding, maintaining and preserving standards of cultural coolness & integrity for successive generations. We conduct ongoing policing of pop singers recommending safeguards and protocols with the noble aim of curbing, avoiding and eliminating Dorky Dialogue in popular music.

 

Our panel of experts have compiled a series of reports entitled “Talking To Your Bandmates During The Song: Case Files And Conclusions.” In addition to this website, copies of our reports will be available at all Federally funded government offices and institutions including but not limited to your local DMV, Post Office, and Public Library.

 

DISCLAIMER: DPAC should not to be confused with 2–Pac, nor is in any way affiliated with Self Help author Deepak Chopra.

 

Abstract & Origins

Dorky Dialogue is indeed a razor’s edge many have slipped from iconified grace and wound up impaled on Dork Stalactites in the corny canyon years or decades later. Such dialogue risks launching self–inflicted salvos at their own careers and creates blundering boomerangs as their own “Towers of Babble” return to sender. CAUTION is the watchword for unfiltered enthusiastic utterances in the studio or onstage, impromptu or planned.

 

DPAC aims to erect a “Speech Line: Do Not Cross” Auditory Police Tape so future musicians and entertainers may refer to maintain a successful “Bell Curve of Cool” throughout their careers as well as protect the airwaves and internet from Nerdy Noise Pollution. Our Publication SM 58: Dampening Dorky Dialogue (see below), provides helpful guidelines for singers to learn when to palm mute their given instrument. The Singer Modification 58 Protocols outline safe and unsafe lead vocal territories in regards to unnecessary chatter, gibberish, babble, bragging, ego stroking, superfluous filler, fluff, Paul Stanleyisms, etc.

 

Publication SM–58

 

Showing Some Love Towards Cover Bands

The first thing such Inter–Song Socializing (ISS) or Inter–Band Dialogue (IBD) on a recording does is it renders a particular song Cover Tune Unfriendly (CTU). Before engaging and risking such utterances, ask yourself “What are the odds cover tune band members will have the same names and/or play the same instrument?” Or be the same gender for that matter. If you are not good with math like a singer, the odds are about that of a Beatles reunion, Charlie Manson getting a record deal, or another Tiffany album.

 

Acceptable Usage and Examples

Neneh Cherry saying “Hey DJ…” in the intro to her hit track “Buffalo Stance” is one such example. Note that this is acceptable as Ms. Cherry refrained from naming the particular DJ, and just telling him (or her) to “Stop that effing scratching and give me a beat!”

 

Vanilla Ice prodded “Yo VIP–let’s kick it!” to get his DJ to press a button and get the the synth drums going on “Ice Ice Baby.” Again no one is insinuated by name and thus cannot be charged as an Accessory to Nerdy.

 

Steve Perry shouting after the piano intro to “Don’t Stop Believin'”, “Neil!”  to Neil Schon to cue in the 4 note guitar lick build that increases in speed and crescendos with the drums entering. Steve did this live but NOT on the actual sound recording which would have definitely been North of dork and South of cool.

 

Frank Zappa and The Mothers Of Invention could get away with lots of inter band conversation onstage because it was musical theatre and part of the show.

 

Rap & Hip Hop have taken Inter–Song Socializing to new plateaus, talking to and about themselves with a frequency density far greater than that of other genres as they do not seem concerned with having their material covered by bands in nightclubs. Since it is so much a part of the genre, we have determined a hands off policy is the recommended approach.

 

When did all this Inter–Song Socializing (ISS) start?

DPAC has determined its origins seem to have been with James Brown, shouting “MACEO!!” To Maceo Parker his horn player. However these were live recordings and part of the spontaneity of being in the moment.

 

Note that doing so on an actual STUDIO recording is a logical contradiction, since if a band member is dumb enough to not know when to solo or play a certain part, then why would they be in the band to begin with? One presupposes they ARE in the band because they are competent on said instrumentation. ISS on recordings is further innecessitated when hiring session players for an album, who it can be safely assumed, know their ass from their elbow.

 

Recommendations

One recommendation is yelling out the name of the instrument about to take spotlight such as “Guitar!!” In regards to such solos, riffs, fills and licks, fans already know it’s coming and who’s playing it, so doing this in substitute of a bandmates name can prevent a dork meter spike and keep you safely south of dork. Bret Michaels finally learned this wise strategy on Poison’s sophomore album with the track “Nothin’ But A Good Time” after his horrendous transgression to C.C. on “Talk Dirty To Me.”

 

Consider the fact that your band members will already be listed in album liner notes and also on your website. You also get to introduce them live on stage every performance. Is there really a need to have such a conversation during the song?

 

Just Shut Up And Sing!! Well, you know what we mean—avoid mentioning your bandmates by name and at all during recording sessions. (The SM–58 Gold Standard—our preferred recommendation)

Pick up Bared To You Today




Sharpening Your Cool IQ

Imagine a Steely Dan recording session where Donald Fagen yells out to Jeff “Skunk” Baxter “Go Skunk!” Or to Elliott Randall, “Elliott!” on the opening solo of “Reelin’ In The Years.” A voice sample of E.T. The Extra Terrestrial saying “Elliott”, although getting points for originality, still fails to be a Trojan horse in the cool army.

 

Picture “Tom Sawyer” with Geddy Lee saying “Gimme a roll Neil!”  to Neil Peart right before his first gargantuan drum fill. Then “How about another?”, and finally a “One More time.” Or alternately after the 3 big drum fills, Geddy saying “Wow, Neil was on a roll!” in some form of schlocky musical slapstick.

 

Singers are most often the guilty parties. Think about how dumb it would sound for another band member telling the lead singer to sing. Can you picture Jimmy Page telling Robert Plant “Scream Robert!” Or Keith Richards telling Mick Jagger “Sing unintelligibly like you always do Mick!” ISS seems to be a symptom of Lead Singer Disease (LSD) as guitarists, drummers, bassists, pianists and keyboardists, etc. are not prone to such fanciful faux pas.

 

Did we ever hear Freddie Mercury telling guitarist Brian May “Go Brian go!?” In the classic Rob Reiner Mockumentary This Is Spinal Tap, the track “Gimme Some Money” on the band’s CD makes fun of Inter–Song Socializing. It’s a retro 60’s Flower Power song, where lead singer David St. Hubbins (Michael McKean) says to guitarist Nigel Tufnel (Christopher Guest), “Go Nigel Go!!” as he begins a wimpy guitar solo replete with stellar garage band cacophony.

 

“Gimme Some Money” is a parody song. DPAC exists to prevent parody from unintentionally becoming reality, and any Careless Whisper or Momentary Lapse Of Reason from becoming a parody later on. That being said, we wish you a long and productive career filled with years of Certified Dork Free Recordings (CDFR).

–DPAC

SwimOutlet.com

 

Case Files:

 

Poison “Talk Dirty To Me”

“C.C. pick up that guitar and talk to me”

Bret Michaels yells out “C.C. pick up that guitar and talk to me” to C.C. DeVille on Poison’s debut album during the track “Talk Dirty To Me.” It’s like what the hell was C.C. doing prior to this in the song—NOT playing guitar? Sitting on his monitor amp painting his fingernails? It makes little sense. One needs to factor in and consider before doing so “Will this still sound cool 20 years from now?” Because unless you’re in a tribute band, and dress and pretend to be the actual members of the original band onstage, such lyrical appendages are better omitted.

 

 

Def Leppard “Armageddon It”

“Come on Steve, get it!”

Joe Elliott talks to one of his guitarists on the track “Armageddon It” off of the monstrously successful Hysteria album. He calls out to Steve Clark, “Come on Steve get it!” right before the guitar solo. Was this encouragement because Steve flubbed the last 5 takes in the studio? DPAC wonders if there could be some kind of curse in doing this—In Def Leppard’s case, this was Steve Clark’s last completed album (due to his untimely death) and our friend C.C. got fired from Poison later on as well.

 

 

Mötley Crüe “Girls, Girls, Girls”

“Hey Tommy check that out man
What Vince where?
Hey hey right there
(whistle)
Hey baby going somewhere?”

Vince Neil and Tommy Lee are obviously not at a strip club during this conversation even though that’s what most of the song is about—a tour of the world’s finest nude entertainment establishments. Unfortunately due to the global recession, some of the strip clubs mentioned in the song are no longer in business.

 

But does this dialogue have real world authenticity? Like any girl wouldn’t be like “Who are these juvenile douchebags?” Like they would say, “Oh that’s okay, they’re in a Rock Band so high school kinda stuff is still pretty cool. They’re socially exempt from being any more sophisticated than a cruder construction worker Cassanova to be successful with women. They’ve got motorcycles so they MUST be cool.” Ah, the ‘ol Harley hat trick.

 

Although the strip club bonding Bromance between Vince and Tommy was some drunken drooling over imaginary Double–D’s, fortunately the motorcycle starting up in the song’s intro was real as one of our Board of Directors knows the person who did it on the actual studio recording.

 

 

Rick James “Super Freak”

“Temptations Sing!”
“Blow Danny!”

Rick slipped up twice in his hit dance track “Super Freak.”  First he tells his backup singers, “Temptations Sing!.” We’re sure after a successful recording career prior to Rick getting his first pubes, that Motown veterans The Temptations know the difference between choruses and verses and when to get their backing vocals on. And hiring session musicians as experienced as The Temptations requires conductor caliber instructions from Maestro James during the track?

 

Rick also tells his sax player when to take a standard 8 bar solo, with “Blow Danny!” Really? Like Danny would do a solo during the verses when Rick was singing about some very kinky girl? We think not. There are “Lead Drummers” who inappropriately intervene thunderously real or imagined virtuosity over lyrics but the phenomenon of “Lead Sax Players” has yet to spike our grievance and peeve meters.

 

 

Prince And The Revolution “Computer Blue”

“Wendy?
Yes Lisa.
Is the water warm enough?
Yes Lisa.
Shall we begin?
Yes Lisa.”

Although we’ve never heard Stevie Nicks or Christine McVie yell out “Go Lindsey” to Lindsey Buckingham telling him when to rip into a guitar riff or solo, one example of women talking during the song is on the Purple Rain Soundtrack. Our research has indicated female singers don’t tend to talk to their band members by name as frequently as their male counterparts. The intro to “Computer Blue” being a notable exception. The track begins with a conversation between Wendy and Lisa with no discernible reference to even playing an instrument.

 

What does this “girl talk” conversation have to do with a song entitled “Computer Blue?” Your guess is as good as ours. Incidentally, you shouldn’t have water anywhere near your computer as it can short it out and damage the circuitry. Yet certain questions still remain as to what they’re actually talking about. Our panel has narrowed it down to the following possible scenarios:

  1. Making herbal tea
    2. Shaving their legs
    3. Making sure the pasta they’re cooking turns out Al Dente
    4. Visiting a day spa while on tour

Regardless, don’t let no thermometer stop you from purifying yourself in the waters of Lake Minnetonka:

 

This concludes Case File Installment #1. And remember:

Some singers get hip replacements, others need lip replacements.
Don’t get a D in Dork, score a C in Cool!
Loose Lips Sink Hits!!

 

The Dork Prevention Advisory Committee (DPAC)

© Composer Yoga

Related Posts To Check Out:
Prince Joke (Little Red Corvette)
Yoda’s iPod: “When Doves Cry” By Prince
The Prince Prophecy & The Let’s Go Crazy Code
Sound Mines: Prince “Mountains”
First Recording Of Purple Rain In America




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Nobody Told Me The Zen Of John Lennon

Sarasota Florida is home to several famous things: The Ringling Circus empire was headquartered there. It has a white sand necklace of beautiful keys off it's shore where you can drive from just north in Bradenton to Anna Maria island (AKA Anna Maria Key), onto Holmes Beach and Bradenton Beach then onto Longboat Key down to Lido Key (perhaps do the Lido Shuffle if you want to get your Boz Scaggs on) and onto St. Armands Circle Key, Coon Key, Bird Key then back to mainland Florida in Sarasota. And just to the south is one of my favorite white sand beaches in the country, Siesta Key. I worked several weddings in the Sarasota area as Florida is one of the destination wedding locations in the United States. As an added bonus, you don't have to risk the retinal roulette of seeing an Elvis impersonator in a Speedo. The King did eat in a small restaurant there though so maybe that already happened.

 

Sarasota has one of the Unconditional Surrender sculptures by Seward Johnson located downtown. The 25 foot (7.6m) sculpture is in the likeness (but not an exact rendition) of the famous V--J Day photo taken in Times Square by Alfred Eisenstaedt of a sailor bent over kissing a nurse in the street. Sarasota was also the place where the In Cold Blood murders documented by author Truman Capote took place and of course where Pee Wee Herman was caught masturbating in an adult movie theatre. And speaking of Johnsons, it's also home to AC/DC vocalist Brian Johnson and his wife Brenda. (I'll get working on my Segue Of The Year acceptance speech a bit later).

 

Sarasota is also home to the 3rd oldest automobile museum in the world: the Sarasota Classic Car Museum. The oldest car museum in the United States is the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan; The oldest car museum in the world is the Mercedes Museum in Stuttgart, Germany in case you're having flashbacks of ZZ Top videos, Beach Boys tunes or old school Grey Poupon commercials. And speaking of Grey Poupon, the museum has John and Mable Ringling's Rolls Royce collection. There's a DeLorean like in Back To The Future though not as pimped out like Doc Brown's packing a flux capacitor. And Oh my God!, it has a Ferrari worthy of Thomas Magnum's Hawaiian print shirt and Jonathan Higgins' legendary high waters (a 308 GTS). All in all, the museum has more than 75 automobiles spanning over 100 years of automotive history under one roof. Perhaps the most famous however are 2 vehicles owned by John Lennon: his blue 1965 Mercedes coupe which he owned in England (the steering wheel was built on the "British" side by Mercedes), and the last car he ever owned, his white Mercedes station wagon which was "the Lennon family car." As I touched that car, I imagined seeing John and Yoko in it with Sean riding in the back. It was a connection to music history and to the man who wrote a song I remember loving as a kid long before I knew who he was---A song released years after his death and ironically, one he didn't intend to be the vocalist on.

 

"Nobody Told Me" was recorded during the Double Fantasy sessions, which turned out to be Lennon's best selling solo album. John Lennon would never see the success of it though---he wouldn't be there to receive his Grammy for Album Of The Year in 1981 either. Lennon was murdered by Mark David Chapman on December 8th, 1980 just 3 weeks after Double Fantasy was released. "Nobody Told Me" was in songwriter's limbo for several years as Yoko Ono mourned the death of her husband. In fact, "Nobody Told Me" was written for Ringo Starr as a track for his solo album Stop And Smell The Roses which was released the following year in 1981. Lennon intended Starr to be the vocalist and sang the song as a guide vocal/scratch track for Ringo to later re--record the song. But after Lennon's murder, Ringo chose not to include the song on his album.

 

In 1984, Yoko Ono released a collection of material recorded during and after the sessions for Double Fantasy called Milk And Honey, which became John Lennon's 8th solo album. So the version of "Nobody Told Me" that was released was essentially a demo by John Lennon for Ringo. Nobody noticed. Nobody told me it was only a demo. Even so, "Nobody Told Me" become the third single to break into the top 10 posthumously for John Lennon, it's highest chart position reaching number 5. The UK had to wait until 1990 for "Nobody Told Me" to be released there (this was before the internet became a daily necessity). Two other songs from the album, "Borrowed Time" and "I'm Stepping Out" were released as singles and overall, Milk And Honey reached #11 on the US album charts.

 

One of the things that grabs me about the song is it has some interesting lyrics:

There's Nazis in the bathroom just below the stairs

 

Huh? Nazi plumbers? I never knew this was what the lyric actually said when I was a kid hearing it on the radio. Some biographical info being John Lennon grew up in World War II England during Nazi attacks by the Luftwaffe and long range rockets. His middle name was Winston as in Winston Churchill, who famously made his "We shall never surrender" speech before the Battle Of Britain in 1940. Iron Maiden sample this speech as the intro to live versions of "Aces High", a track on their 1984 album Powerslave. Wartime Prime Minister Winston Churchill had a huge impact on British history last century and it's not surprising John Lennon bore the tribute in a middle name by his family. Even today, there's a bronze statue of Sir Winston in the park next to Big Ben and Parliament. The middle name happened to be a premonition as a few decades later, John himself became a "Sir" in 1965 though he returned his MBE medal (Members of the Order of the British Empire) a few years later to the Queen due to his protest of British support of the Vietnam War and Nigeria's Civil War (which was symbolic as doing so has no effect on your MBE status).

 

"Nobody Told Me" is probably the only top 10 pop song which mentions Nazis in the lyrics. Another similar reference that comes to mind is David Bowie's (and Iggy Pop's) 1983 single "China Girl" which charted at #10 and mentions "Visions of swastikas in my head":

I stumble into town just like a sacred cow
Visions of swastikas in my head
Plans for everyone
It's in the white of my eyes

 

John Lennon and David Bowie became friends after the breakup of The Beatles. Lennon, Bowie and Carlos Alomar (who was later in the band Arcadia, a Duran Duran side project) wrote "Fame" together which appeared on Bowie's Young Americans album and became his first #1 single in 1975. Lennon played guitar on the track. Lennon and Ono had December 9th tickets to the play The Elephant Man on Broadway which David Bowie was starring in. So did Mark David Chapman. Bowie was on Chapman's hit list as well. Bowie performed the show that night with 3 empty seats in the front row. John Lennon was a victim of fame; David Bowie almost was too.

 

"Nobody Told Me" also mentions the capital city of Nepal, Katmandu:

There's a little yellow idol to the north of Katmandu

This puts it in the company of a few other songs which mention the exotic locale: Bob Seger's 1975 single "Katmandu" off Beautiful Loser, and the 1976 Rush single "A Passage To Bangkok" off 2112:

Pulling into Katmandu
Smoke rings fill the air
Perfumed by a Nepal night
The Express gets you there

Lennon wrote this lyric about the yellow idol in the poem The Green Eye of the Little Yellow God by J. Milton Hayes. In contrast, Rush is singing about enjoying sampling fatties the world over making "A Passage To Bangkok" a kind of THC Tour on a Rock 'N' Roll rickshaw.

 

But the most interesting reference in the lyrics is actually based on a true story:

There's UFOs over New York and I ain't too surprised

Back in 1974, John Lennon and then companion May Pang (still in his "Lost Weekend" phase separated from Yoko) saw one from their terrace overlooking east New York. They had moved back to New York from California and rented a penthouse on 434 East 52nd street. The circular object was floating over the city within a hundred feet away from them. Lennon told photographer Bob Gruen (who took the famous "New York City" shirt photo of Lennon) who later called the local police because Lennon didn't want to for obvious reasons. The police informed Gruen that there were 3 other reports of the object. The Daily News printed that 5 people reported seeing the object near where Lennon and May Pang had their apartment. Lennon "officially" documented his sighting in the liner notes of Walls and Bridges released later in 1974:

"On the 23rd August 1974 at 9 o'clock I saw a U.F.O. - J.L."

UFO's were also showing up in lyrics in the 80's. Greg Lake sang of them in "Touch And Go" off the 1986 album Emerson, Lake & Powell:

All systems go friend of foe
You're caught up in the middle where the four winds blow
Come without a warning like a U.F.O.
You're runnin' with the devil it's touch and go

Many people claim to have seem UFO's---what makes John Lennon's sighting unique was that he was naked at the time. Would the Air Force have to file those under "Project Nude Book?"

 

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"Nobody Told Me" was written by a more mature John Lennon who was in a much better headspace. It's a happier side of Lennon---it's the Lennon who's dealt with some of his his demons, a Lennon who's accepting things in life, a Lennon with greater perspective.

 

Lennon's early life wasn't a fairy tale like the Fab Four Fantasy the world cast him and 3 others into. His father left them then came back into his life and forced John to make a decision between his parents as a 5 year old. As a result, young John Lennon became a troublemaker in school, acted out and was jealous of others who had a stable family. Later on this factored in his competitiveness with Paul McCartney and him not being the greatest father to his first son Julian since he had no good role model himself. The worst tragedy of his youth happened when he was 17: Lennon's mother was hit by a car and killed. Lennon was still grappling with these issues when Hurricane Beatlemania made landfall in all their lives.

 

During his Beatles tenure, Lennon became a proponent of peace partly to confront things about himself he grew to no longer like and approve of: His anger, chauvinist attitude, and violence against his first wife Cynthia. This was written about in the Beatles song "Getting Better" off of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band in 1967:

I used to be cruel to my woman
I beat her and kept her apart from the things that she loved
Man I was mean but I'm changing my scene
And I'm doing the best that I can (Ooh)

 

After The Beatles broke up, Lennon's past wounds had an open calendar to come to the forefront. His heroin addiction, problems in his marriage with Yoko, led to him going to California kind of like the Led Zeppelin song with an aching in his heart. Lennon went with his assistant May Pang (whom he was having an affair with Yoko's knowledge & blessing) for what was later known as his "Lost Weekend" which amounted to a year and a half "college drinking binge" with singer Harry Nilsson (famous for "Everybody's Talkin'", 1969).

 

Lennon came out of the "Teenage Wasteland Woods" of the early 70's a different man as can be heard in his later solo works. These were the first songs I came to know John Lennon as an artist: "Woman", "(Just Like) Starting Over", and "Nobody Told Me."

 

"Nobody Told Me" is a deceptively light, playful tune. The bounce in the verse makes you think it just came from a 1950's trampoline (perhaps on that DeLorean mentioned earlier). That swing and bounce on "Nobody Told Me" match the bass thumbprint of the guilty party, session ace Tony Levin. Levin recorded several monster Art Rock albums with Robert Fripp in King Crimson in the 1980's among them Beat, Three Of A Perfect Pairr and the amazing compound melodic intricacies of Discipline. Levin's contribution to this John Lennon tune just demonstrates how Musician's Musicians can rock a pop song and make it even better.

 

"Nobody Told Me" uses a series of images like Sting later used to great effect on "King Of Pain." Lyrically, it's a word/concept play with imagery of dichotomies and contradictions. It's like a Zen tale and narration of the human condition and observing society with a degree of detachment. It poses contradictions of human behavior to ponder over like the famous Zen koan (a paradoxical anecdote used to meditate beyond the logical mind), "What is the sound of one hand clapping?"

 

Word play and concept play are literary devices no stranger to poetry and lyrics. The Byrds "Turn! Turn! Turn!" (originally written by Pete Seeger---verse taken from the Biblical Book of Ecclesiastes, 1st 8 verses of the 3rd chapter) released in 1965, and Pete Townshend's "Face The Face" released in 1985 off of White City: A Novel are some ancient and modern examples of this. "Nobody Told Me" is most similar in concept though to Howard Jones' "No One Is To Blame" (Dream Into Action, 1985) where both begin by proposing an activity/event then a corresponding contrast, failure or denial.

 

Regardless of the problems and torment he encountered in his personal life, there's a joy, happiness in this song I always loved. It's present in the lyrics and especially the strummed chords after both choruses that sends me soaring. It's the part after John sings:

Strange days indeed -- strange days indeed

Strange days indeed -- most peculiar, mama

This is the emotional center of the song for me. It's the part that caught my heart as a kid, it's the part that exhales into the comforting vastness of existence.

 

After his death, John Lennon was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame twice: In 1988 for The Beatles and in 1994 as a solo artist. He was also inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1987. As a kid I heard his songs. As an adult I walked across Abbey Road and touched John Lennon's last car. That's about as full circle as I'll ever get to John Lennon. But music is an intimacy that doesn't recognize time or space---on some level we've already met.

 

Music brings needed levity to the world and reminds us on deeper levels that we are more than we think we are. The beauty of music is you can do this with a few chord combinations and it will have meaning beyond the songwriter and the song---it will affect people you'll never meet, affect them in ways and depths beyond your understanding, and affect them long after you leave the planet. Music is ALWAYS more than the sum of it's parts. If you listen closely and repeatedly, you can hear whispers of something beyond. There's a bit transcendence embedded within even simple pops songs and I'm convinced "Nobody Told Me" is the sound of one Beatle clapping.

© Composer Yoga




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