For some reason, I just never get exactly what I want to say when I first put it down. I tried to say something simple last week - I was going to post what are, in effect, "guilty pleasures" - songs we know we shouldn't like, but dammit, we do anyway. How easy would that have been?
Anyway, I thought I would post three songs here to make people, most especially my old friend Jim, wonder what, exactly, happened to my judgment. There's nothing wrong with my judgment, really. I just have to confess that there are some songs, and artists, that move me, even though I know they probably shouldn't.
I have written about Train before. God knows I grew quite tired of "Drops of Jupiter" when the song was first released. One night, my wife and I were in the Sam Goody's in the Peru, IL Mall and there was this song on the PA in the store. I asked one of the clerks what it was, and she said it was by Train. The song was "Getaway" - a plea in six-eight from a man for his love to come back, and they could get away together. There was just something urgent in the lead singer's presentation that resonated with me. I had gone to buy something else, but I put a copy of Drops of Jupiter in my hand, and was surprised to learn the entire album, with one or two exceptions, was equally good. It is what it is - a pop album by a band with limits - yet the emotional core of so many of the songs was so raw, I listened and still listen to it frequently. My favorite track on the CD became "I Wish You Would":
In the past year or so, I've come to appreciate some music I thought I left far behind me, 1970's AM pop radio. A staple of that tinny medium from my late childhood and early youth was England Dan and John Ford Coley. One of their biggest songs was "Nights Are Forever Without You". You have to imagine a polyester suit with really wide lapels, a porn-star mustache, and shoulder-length hair to get the full effect of this song.
I thought I'd save the best - or worst - for last. If any band was despised more than Journey when I was in college (maybe REO came in a close second) I can't name it. The horrid "ballads", "Open Arms" and "Faithfully", staples of many a slow-dance in my not-very-flaming youth, became objects of scorn to those of us who thought we knew what real music was.
Yet, the band was not lacking in talent. Guitarist Neal Schon started his career in Santana. His solo work with Jan Hammer is startling in its originality. Drummer Steve Smith has a long career as a jazz drummer of massive respect. Bassist Ross Marler was impressive. Alas, I believe it was keyboardist Jonathan Cain and lead singer Steve Perry who rang the death knell for this particular band.
Yet, there is a song of theirs that still haunts me. It is actually pretty grown-up in its sentiments (unlike the previously mentioned songs, fodder for far too many yearning adolescents), and has a really nice key-change in the bridge/guitar solo. I know I have to apologize for liking this song, but I just can't help myself. This is "Send Her My Love":
UPDATE: I thought honorable mention should go to a few others. Some of the songs off Toto's IV LP, including "Rosanna", and "I Won't Hold You Back Now". Justin Timberlake's "Sexy Back". No Doubt's "Hella Good". Those are some I can think of off the top of my head. I'm sure there are more I am ignoring, out of embarrassment.
BTW, to ER - REO? I bought Hi Infidelity the week it was released, before everyone and their grandmother jumped on the bandwagon, as it were. It's actually not a bad album - a concept album about cheating, cheaters, love lost, love held on to. I thought the best single line of any of the songs on the album was "They think they're full of fire/She thinks they're full of shit" from "Tough Guys". Unfortunately, the band was hyped far beyond its capacity. It was a hard-working rock and roll band that could come up with occasional good hook or riff; beyond that - eh.