Archive for January, 2007

Adventures Through The Mines Of Mellow Gold 16

Wednesday, January 17th, 2007

mellowgoldlogo.jpg

Welcome back! Wednesday means only one thing – more Adventures Through The Mines Of Mellow Gold! Let’s get feminine! No, seriously: let’s get feminine.

Mary MacGregor – Torn Between Two Lovers (download)

As I’m sure you’ve noticed, we’ve not had many women featured in Adventures Through The Mines Of Mellow Gold. (If memory serves correctly, the only woman we’ve covered has been Lauren Wood.) There’s a reason for this.

Mellow Gold is pretty much a Boys’ Club.

I’m pretty sure you’ll agree with me, but in case you don’t, or you’re a woman and you’re offended by such a thought (why, I’d have no clue), hear me out: if we go back to our original thoughts on what defines a Mellow Gold song, which I’ve always felt is well-summarized from Mike’s statement from a while ago: they are often (and ideally) songs that contain “some variation on the theme of “I love you so much that I will never bother you again” or “come on baby, just allow me to be in your beatific presence and I will not even think of putting any kind of sexual move on you. I promise.””

In short, what self-respecting woman would lower herself to the level of Mellow Gold men?

Sure, there are always exceptions, and I encourage you to throw ’em up in the comments. Anyway, not so long ago, Scraps asked for a shout-out for some Mellow Women, and named a few songs – including “Torn Between Two Lovers.” Although it does encompass the classic ’70s Mellow Sound quite well, the lyrics are not really Mellow Gold. I think it’s worth covering, though, and I think I even know what would tip it over the edge. First, let’s tell you about Mary MacGregor.

Already a pianist and a singer from a young age, Mary MacGregor was given her first guitar as a high school graduation present – her first introduction to the wonderful yet highly dangerous and rebellious world of…folk music. She took the guitar to college with her, where she joined a folk duo and did the coffeehouse thing. One gig led to another, and before she knew it, she was touring around the country with a number of bands. She auditioned for a backing vocal spot for Peter Yarrow, of Peter, Paul and Mary. Peter recorded her singing “Torn Between Two Lovers,” which was picked up by Ariola Records.

(Can I just pause here and say: ARIOLA RECORDS? I mean, seriously, we couldn’t come up with a better name for this record company? I know the spelling is off, but….Ariola Records?) (I know I’ve just invited a history of Ariola Records in the comments.)

Anyhoo, “Torn Between Two Lovers” entered the Top 10 nearly thirty years ago to this week – January 22, 1977 – and topped the Hot 100 for two weeks. It remained on the Top 10 through the end of March. It also topped the AC charts, and for Mary, it…well, let’s hear her describe it, courtesy of her website:

During the next four years I moved to LA, recorded 4 albums, performed on 37 television shows, had another top ten single, signed with Ariola records, and then when it folded, got a recording contract with RSO Records, made 3 trips to Hong Kong, with two of those going on to other points in the Far East and Australia, performed with many other established and popular entertainers, was awarded “New Female Artist” by Billboard Magazine in 1978, and, mostly, traveled all over the US and South America, (this time mostly on planes). In November of 1980 I competed in The Yamaha World Popular Song Festival in Tokyo, Japan, and won the two top prizes for “Best Song” and “Best Performance”. It was a magical, wild and frightening roller coaster ride. I called it my “crash course” in the music business.

(She doesn’t mention that “Torn Between Two Lovers” also inspired a movie.)

MacGregor wasn’t one for stardom. She didn’t like the way her career consumed her life. Although she did have some other minor hits, she eventually moved out of the spotlight. As you can see by her website, she does still perform from time to time.

Okay, enough history. Time to make fun of the song.

Usually I try to analyze these songs for both their music and words. Well, musically, there ain’t a hell of a lot going on here. Lyrically, however….hoo boy. Do yourself a favor and crank up “Torn Between Too Lovers” (not too loud, unless you’re okay with rocks being thrown at you from passersby), and let’s go over these lyrics together as we listen, okay? And away we go!

There are times when a woman
Has to say what’s on her mind
Even though she knows how much it’s gonna hurt

Okay, pretty typical stuff here. Vague, generalized statement. Keep talkin’.

Before I say another word
Let me tell you, I love you

Okay, now I’m going to play the role of the guy she’s talking to: Uh oh. Nothing good can come of this.

Let me hold you close and say these words
As gently as I can

Hmmm. Maybe it won’t be so bad. She wants to hold me close and say something gently. That’s sweet, right?

There’s been another man
That I’ve needed and I’ve loved
But that doesn’t mean I love you less

(deer in headlights) WHAT THE FUCK??

And he knows he can’t possess me
And he knows he never will

Wait wait wait…I know you’re saying this “gently” and all, but…am I crazy, or did you just flat-out insult me? Are you saying I’m possessive? Couldn’t you just dump me and not tell me all of this? (my wife thinks that I’m reading this line wrong, but screw her, this is my website.)

There’s just this empty place inside of me
That only he can fill

Holy shit! Holy shit, holy shit, holy shit. Do you see now why this song is so wonderful? There are tons of songs about this kind of subject – loving two people for different reasons and not knowing exactly what to do – but how often, I ask you, is the song sung directly to the guy that’s losing? That’s classic, my friends. CLASSIC!

Here comes the chorus!

Torn between two lovers
Feeling like a fool
Loving both of you
Is breaking all the rules

Here’s how I see this song: I see it as a sketch from a comedy show, played as straight as possible. She’s dropping this bomb on him, then suddenly turns away, looks out into the night sky, and goes all dramatic with the chorus, and the humor is that she’s obviously not really torn. How can she be fucking torn between two lovers? She pretty much said that Guy #1’s got nothin’!

On to Verse #2!

You mustn’t think you’ve failed me
Just because there’s someone else

Oh no? Because I’m pretty sure you just said, and I quote: “There’s just this empty place inside of me that only he can fill.” I don’t know if that’s an emotional thing, or you’re literally talking about your vagina, or what, but if that’s not a perfect example of failure…

You were the first real love I ever had

Oh, great consolation. I’ll think of that as I’m sitting in the garage with carbon monoxide slowly filling my lungs.

And all the things I ever said
I swear they still are true
For no one else can have the part of me I gave to you

What the hell part is she talking about? If I didn’t get the cooter, what did I get? The boobs? Is it the boobs? I probably got the elbow or something. Jesus.

Back to the chorus. She turns away. The audience goes wild. Wild!

Torn between two lovers
Feeling like a fool
Loving both of you
Is breaking all the rules

What, you think it can’t get better? Verse 3, bitches!

I couldn’t really blame you
If you turned and walked away

Oh, that’s kind of you. Thanks for not blaming me for walking away after you told me – straight out – that you have the mist in your eyes from the smoke of a distant really fucking close fire.

But with everything I feel inside
I’m asking you to stay

?!?!?!?!?!?!???!

??!?!?!?!?!?!?!?

Do you guys see my jaw dropping??

And, since comedy is best in threes, the guy is left to ponder such a ridiculous statement while she faces the audience and heads back to the chorus a third time:

Torn between two lovers
Feeling like a fool
Loving both of you
Is breaking all the rules

I should be a director. I’ve just created a great music video/comedy sketch. I mean, it’s way better than MacGregor’s performance on American Bandstand, which leaves me wondering if she even knew what the song was about at the time (check out her blank stare!):

[youtube]Mu_dTjsMALc[/youtube]

Here’s why this song can’t possibly be Mellow Gold: this woman is flat-out admitting she’s a cheating slut, that guy #1 can’t fulfill her in any way, shape or form, yet she’s asking him to stay. In Mellow Gold, we have rules. Like you guys said last week, vibe trumps guitars, but in addition, in Mellow Gold, the singer cannot have the upper hand. (This is why Sanford-Townsend is on the border. Yeah, the guy is being cheated on, but “don’t let the screen door hit you on your way out” shows he’s got the situation under control. I bet you had no clue that this much analysis went into Mellow Gold.)

But, you know…we could turn this song into a Mellow Gold song. Hopefully you know where I’m going with this.

What if the song was sung from the point-of-view of Guy #1…to the woman, and the audience?

There are times when a woman
Has to say what’s on her mind
Even though she knows how much it’s gonna hurt

Before you say another word
Won’t you tell me you love me
Please just hold me close and say the words
As gently as you can

There’s been another man
That you’ve needed and you’ve loved
But that doesn’t mean you love me any less
And he knows he can’t possess you
And he knows he never will
There’s just this empty place inside of you
That only he can fill

Torn between two lovers
Feeling like a fool
Loving both of us
Is breaking all the rules

Now that, my friends, is pathetic. THAT’S Mellow Gold. Don’t pretend you can’t hear Randy VanWarmer singing this one! And of course, because it’s Mellow Gold…the guy stayed with her. He got approximately one Cool Night a week.

Actually, there is one reason why the original IS Mellow Gold: Peter Yarrow wrote it. PETER YARROW! A GUY! Any guy who would write such a song….well, I don’t need to finish that statement, do I?

Will another woman do some bitch-slapping next week? Will we witness the emasculation of yet another male? You’ll have to come back next week for another Adventure Through The Mines Of Mellow Gold to find out!

CHART ATTACK! #14: 1/14/84

Friday, January 12th, 2007


Welcome back, folks, to another edition of CHART ATTACK!  I have sad news for you this week: there is no Stevie B. track on this Top 10.  In fact, you might as well get used to it – there will never be another Stevie B. song, as "Because I Love You" was his only Top 10..  (Sorry, JT, sweetie, but you go with your S. Florida bad self!)  But don’t let it get you down – we have plenty of other artists and songs to cover – so let’s see how the charts fared on January 14, 1984!

10.  Running With The Night – Lionel Richie  Amazon iTunes
9.  Karma Chameleon – Culture Club
  Amazon iTunes
8.  I Guess That’s Why They Call It The Blues – Elton John  Amazon iTunes
7.  Break My Stride – Matthew Wilder  Amazon
6.  Talking In Your Sleep – The Romantics  Amazon iTunes
5.  Twist of Fate – Olivia Newton-John  Amazon iTunes
4.  Union Of The Snake  – Duran Duran  Amazon iTunes
3.  Say It Isn’t So – Daryl Hall & John Oates  Amazon iTunes
2.  Owner Of A Lonely Heart – Yes  Amazon iTunes
1.  Say Say Say – Paul McCartney and Michael Jackson  Amazon

10.  Running With The Night – Lionel Richie  It should be noted that the week before this one, "All Night Long" made its last appearance in the Top 10.  It had been in the Top 10 for 11 weeks, and just as it left, "Running With The Night" showed up.  It’s not a fantastic song, but Richie didn’t need fantastic songs in 1984.  Just about anything he released was a smash.

9.  Karma Chameleon – Culture Club  I don’t know what "Karma Chameleon" is about nor do I know what a karma-karma-karma-karma (or, as I’m sure you also grew up singing, comma-comma-comma-comma) chameleon is, either.  And I don’t care.  I’ve always found Boy George and Culture Club to be ridiculously overrated, and that’s the end of that story.  Want a not-so-interesting fact?  "Karma Chameleon" was the first single to sell a million copies in Canada.

8.  I Guess That’s Why They Call It The Blues – Elton John  I think the shame of the studio version of this song, apart from the fact that it’s overproduced with cheesy backing vocals, is that it doesn’t illustrate that the song actually IS a blues number.  So for that reason, I’d like to offer up a solo version of the song from Elton’s performance at The Ritz in France in January of 1998.   Warning, though: this mp3, encoded at 160 kpbs, is a little on the loud side.

Elton John – I Guess That’s Why They Call It The Blues (live) (download)

However, the studio version has the harmonica solo, courtesy of Stevie Wonder, which I absolutely love.  I’ve always loved how Stevie’s harmonica parts are filled with emotion (think "Creepin’").  This one is no exception.  If you can’t feel it on this track, what can I say?  You have no soul.

7.  Break My Stride – Matthew Wilder  On the request of our good friend Emily, Mike and I learned "Break My Stride" for our last ’80s gig.  We had a remarkably hard time figuring out the chords.  In fact, one of the chords that eluded us was a C diminished chord.  I found that chord so annoying to play on guitar that I eventually pleaded to Mike to just change it to a plain C chord, which actually works also.  So I guess the point of this story is that I’m not talented, and Matthew Wilder is some sort of genius.  Or something.  Also, I started off really not wanting to play this song, and then found it to be a lot of fun to perform, even though the chorus is kind of tricky to sing.  Especially with the key change.

You may wonder why Matthew Wilder only had one hit to his name.  Have you ever seen Matthew Wilder, by any chance?  I think it might explain some things.  Here’s a remarkably fey video for "Break My Stride."  Or maybe it’s not so remarkable, considering the quality of his vocal.

[youtube]m11S_cQRMZA[/youtube]

It’s like Freddie Mercury went to see Flashdance and then got a perm!

But don’t feel too bad for Mr. Wilder: he produced No Doubt’s breakthrough album Tragic Kingdom and co-wrote the score to the Disney film Mulan, for which he was nominated for an Oscar.  He also voiced the character of Ling.  In 2007, Princesses will open on Broadway, for which he wrote the music.  So like our friend Rupert Holmes, Matthew Wilder has found further success elsewhere in the biz, specifically on the stage.  But like Mr. Holmes, only one thing’s going to be mentioned in his obit.

6.  Talking In Your Sleep – The Romantics (download) The Romantics are known for two hits: this one and "What I Like About You."  Judging from media saturation, I would have bet that the latter was the bigger hit, but it turns out that "Talking In Your Sleep" was the big winner for The Romantics, peaking at #3.  ("What I Like About You," surprisingly, only reached a disappointing #49, which is odd since their lesser-known single "One In A Million" beat it and reached #37.)  I’ve always loved this song, which is a great blend of new wave and power pop.  Sharp guitar, and a great vocal.  In fact, when I got my first CD burner (back when you had to buy them separately from computers and you had to walk three miles in the snow uphill against the wind, etc), I immediately made my definitive ’80s CD and put this song as track #2.  (Track #1: "Kyrie.") 

5.  Twist of Fate – Olivia Newton-John
  Ladies and gentlemen, rejoice: we have finally reached the end of The Reign Of Newt.  Oh, and what a reign it was!  As mentioned back in Chart Attack #11, Newt (this is your fault, everybody who encouraged me on "Nuge") holds the honor of having the most popular Hot 100 song of the 1980s, period: "Physical."  Unfortunately, such a popular song enabled her to reach the top of the charts which some pretty shitty tunes ("Heart Attack," anyone?).  "Twist Of Fate" was her last Top 10 hit, period (unless she has something up her sleeve, which I doubt).  And it sounds not only horribly dated but also like something straight out of a soundtrack, you’re right on both counts.  The dated sound is courtesy of none other than the song’s author, David Foster.  (Damn him!)  The soundtrack sound?  Well, it was the lead-off track for the movie Two Of A Kind:

Do you remember Two Of A Kind?  I sure as hell do.  I swear, the first month we got HBO, this movie was on twice a day.  And of course, we were so excited to get HBO that we watched it.  Okay, I watched it.  Twice a day.  I don’t want to stray too far off-topic here, but this movie is perhaps one of the dumbest ever created.  The basic plot?  Travolta’s an inventor, Newt’s a bank teller.  God decides to destroy the human race.  An angel (Charles Durning) convinces God to give him a chance to find two good souls in the world.  And he finds these two, who turn out to be criminals.  I don’t need to say any more.  And the voice of God?  Gene Hackman, who wisely went uncredited.  The movie put a bad taste in the mouths of just about everyone.  The public allowed Newt this one last single, save for a few Adult Contemporary hits (which we all know don’t count), and then told her to shove it.  Oh, they told Travolta to shove it, too: after this flick, he pretty much went into hiding until "Look Who’s Talking."

I feel dirty after writing so much about this shitty song.

4.  Union Of The Snake  – Duran Duran 
The lead-off single from Seven And The Ragged Tiger, "Union Of The Snake" reached #3 in late December 1983. 
It’s never been one of my favorite Duran Duran songs – although I dig the backing vocals and the guitar part, it’s actually just a bit too synth-heavy for my tastes.  The video, however, was one of the first to be filmed on 35mm instead of videotape, and was the source of some controversy: the video was released to MTV before the single was released to radio, and radio programmers weren’t happy about it: what would happen to the efficacy of radio promotion if music videos were to steal their thunder?  Luckily, such a thing never happened.

3.  Say It Isn’t So – Daryl Hall & John Oates (download)
  After a successful early-’80s comeback, H&O decided to take a brief break and release their first greatest hits collection, Rock ‘N Soul, Part 1, including two new songs: "Say It Isn’t So," which peaked at #2, and "Adult Education," which reached #8 a few months later.) 
This is one of my favorite H&O singles.  I think the backing vocal really makes this song, which is interesting considering it only consists of the words "say it isn’t so" and maybe three or four notes.  Rhythm and timing is everything.

2.  Owner Of A Lonely Heart – Yes
  If this was the only Yes song you had ever heard in your life, you’d have no clue that they were ever a prog rock band.  Yes had ever-changing members throughout the 1970s, and surprisingly, "Owner" represented a line-up that closely resembled the original: Chris Squire on bass, Jon Anderson on vocals, and Tony Kaye on keyboards.  The band had broken up in 1981, and reformed by accident: Squire and Alan White (Yes drummer since ’72) formed a band called Cinema, and invited Kaye to contribute keyboards.  Guitarist Trevor Rabin also joined the band, and when his vocals didn’t cut it, Anderson was asked to contribute.  Realizing that Yes was essentially back together, Cinema assumed their previous name and released 90125.  "Owner Of A Lonely Heart," written by Rabin, wound up becoming the biggest hit of their career – their only #1.  Oh, and it was produced by former Yes vocalist Trevor Horn, who also sings the falsetto in the chorus, but did not re-join the band.  Are you still with me?  Because I’m writing it, and I’m lost.

1.  Say Say Say – Paul McCartney and Michael Jackson
  Ah, the good old days when Jackson and McCartney were buddies.  Their collaboration began in the late ’70s, when Jackson recorded McCartney’s "Girlfriend" for Off The Wall.  Jackson invited McCartney to duet on "The Girl Is Mine" (the first single from Thriller, which hit #2) and McCartney returned the favor by inviting Jackson to collaborate on two songs from his upcoming album, Pipes Of Peace: "The Man," and "Say Say Say."

Produced by George Martin, "Say Say Say" was a smash, holding down the #1 spot for six weeks.  I haven’t heard "The Man," but this track is clearly superior to "The Girl Is Mine" (although the "I’m a lover, not a fighter" line is now cute in a kitsch-y kinda way).  The song was accompanied by an absolutely adorable video, with a storyline having absolutely nothing to do with the song itself.  Featuring "Mac and Jack" as traveling salesmen/vaudeville comedians, the video recalls the famous Bing Crosby/Bob Hope "Road To…" films, and features Linda McCartney (who acted as well as she sung) and Michael’s sister LaToya, who plays the object of Michael’s affection.  How did we not see this as the first sign of a warped man?  Either way, watch the video, it’s lots of fun.

[youtube]CH5bjsyptoc[/youtube]

But here’s what I really want to know: two musical geniuses, and this is the best cover they could come up with?

And that covers the Top 10 for this week!  Hope you enjoyed – have a great weekend and we’ll be back once again next Friday for more CHART ATTACK!

Adventures Through The Mines Of Mellow Gold 15

Wednesday, January 10th, 2007

mellowgoldlogo.jpg

Wow, has a week really gone by since we explored the wussiness of Christopher Cross and Ambrosia? I guess time flies when you’re wimpin’ it up! Well, no matter – onwards and upwards as we head to another week of Adventures Through The Mines of Mellow Gold!

Walter Egan – Magnet And Steel (download)

Break out your bobby socks and poodle skirts, everybody: Mellow Gold’s goin’ ’50s! “Magnet and Steel,” a #8 hit for Walter Egan in August of 1978, had an unmistakable retro sound, but that doesn’t mean it’s not Mellow Gold. In fact, Egan was well-connected in the Mellow World: most notably, he was part of the Washington, D.C. scene that included, at the time, Bill and Taffy Danoff (Starland Vocal Band), and was offered a spot in Linda Rondstadt’s band (when he declined, the position went to Mr. Andrew Gold instead). But perhaps Egan’s most famous connection, MG or no MG, would be to Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks.


Hoo boy, I’m in the middle!
Oh, this is awkward.
Is it hot in here?
I knew I shouldn’t have worn velvet.

After meeting Buckingham at a party and becoming friends, Egan asked him to produce his album Fundamental Roll. Buckingham didn’t really have time for such things, having just joined the Mac, but did agree to be involved on the fringe of production here and there. Nicks provided backing vocals. Egan was no dummy, and gave them both full production credits.

A couple of years later, Buckingham had some free time, and fully produced Egan’s album Not Shy along with veteran Mac producer Richard Dashut. Not Shy was the album that included “Magnet And Steel.” And here’s where things get interesting.

Both Nicks and Buckingham were in the studio for various parts of the Not Shy sessions. Egan claimed that Buckingham was great to be around during this period of time, except when Nicks was there as well, as the couple were not getting along at the time.

Now, it’s no secret that Buckingham and Nicks have had, shall we say, not the healthiest of relationships. But what probably didn’t help the situation was the fact that Nicks and Egan wound up sleeping together for a period of time during the sessions for Fundamental Roll. After she recorded backing vocals for his song “Tunnel Of Love” (no, not that “Tunnel Of Love”), Egan became downright smitten. He drove home from the sessions, and on the way, saw a purple Lincoln Continental with the license plate “Not Shy.” Struck with inspiration, he went home and wrote “Magnet And Steel.” That’s right: “Magnet And Steel” is about Stevie Nicks. And guess who sings those backing vocals? That’s Lindsey on the low, Stevie on the high. Awkward!

Of course, the Egan/Nicks relationship didn’t last. (My wife: “Why would she date a guy named Walter?” My response: “I dunno, why would she date a guy named Lindsey?”) Regardless, word is that she was honored the song was about her, although admittedly, she preferred the first draft, “Microphone Stand And Scarf.”

And because nobody can get involved with the Mac without getting a little incestuous, Christine McVie adds some backing vocals to Egan’s 1983 album Wild Exhibitions (he insists it was purely professional). Still…shudder.

But all this talk of “Magnet and Steel” and we haven’t even discussed the song itself! Over the course of time, there have been many ways to describe the attraction between two people. “For you are the magnet and I am steel” is a little unwieldy, no? I mean, unless by “steel” he’s talking about his johnson. If that’s the case, then I think it’s okay. But judging by the way Egan looked and dressed at the time, as well as the musical climate surrounding him, I’m guessing he meant it more emotionally…which, of course, is the Mellow Gold Way. Q.E.D.

Maybe I’m wrong, though. Egan seems pretty damn confident. Take a look at the video: Egan knew he was hot shit. You need high self-esteem to actively show off your pink jacket.

[youtube]lla5xNOW5gc[/youtube]

The rest of the lyrics are supremely innocuous so I don’t even think it’s worth our time dissecting them. Instead, let’s make fun of the music! Specifically, let’s talk about that guitar solo. Egan plays the most simple solo I’ve ever heard. Walter! You have LINDSEY FUCKING BUCKINGHAM (Lindsey Fuckingham?) in the studio with you, and you choose to play a solo that specifically just plucks out every note of the verse vocal? Maybe this was an homage to ’50s guitar playing, but I just plain think it sucks. That being said, you gotta love that chorus. It’s catchy. (How do I know? Because you’ll be singing it to yourself in about 20 minutes.) I’ll be honest with you, though: I don’t really hear much Buckingham or Nicks in those backing vocals. However, Egan insists it’s them. I guess we’ll take his word for it. After all, we are all but magnets, and he is steel. If steel wore a pink jacket.

If you’re feeling like you need more Buckingham in your Egan, check out this cover by Matthew Sweet, from the Sabrina The Teenage Witch soundtrack. He’s all over those vocals, and that’s him on lead guitar. It’s pretty damn good.

Matthew Sweet – Magnet And Steel (download)

But back to Egan: he’s still a performing musician. Check out his myspace page, where one of his newly-added friends is “Big Cockā„¢ – The Hardest Band In The Land.” He’s also a substitute teacher in Cool Springs, Tennessee, looks a bit like Ted Kennedy, and still wishes the Mac had asked him to join them when Buckingham left. Turns out that in that case, they were magnets and he was…I don’t know, a metal that isn’t magnetic, like steel when nickel is added to it. Or something. Okay, moving on!

Sanford Townsend Band – Smoke From A Distant Fire (download)

I have a confession to make: I’m not completely sold on this song being Mellow Gold. But that’s okay, I’m covering it anyway, for two very important reasons:

1) It was the first Mellow Gold request ever, back in MG #1 by Scraps (backed up by Billy K.).

2) This song fucking rocks! Hey, maybe that’s why it’s not Mellow Gold! Scraps and Billy, I’m really glad you suggested it; I wouldn’t have heard it otherwise.

First, a little background for you. The band consisted of Ed Sanford and John Townsend, who were both keyboardists (two in one band? How very Mellow Gold of them!). The duo met in the late ’60s as members of the band Heart (no, not that Heart). Heart had little success (although they did open for Hendrix), and eventually broke up. A number of years later, Sanford and Townsend reunited, this time as budding songwriters looking for a publishing deal. One of the members of Townsend’s post-Heart band, Feather (Feather!) was now part of the band for Loggins & Messina, which led to the Sanford/Townsend song “Peacemaker” landing a spot on the L&M album Native Sons. The big-name-band success was enough to get them into the studio to record some demos, and caught the attention of legendary producer Jerry Wexler, who convinced Warner Brothers to give them a contract.

Sanford Townsend Band was released in 1976 and was a flop. But remember, friends: this was still back in the day when record companies wouldn’t give up on an album if it didn’t sell right away. “Smoke From A Distant Fire,” the third single from the record, was released in the Summer of 1977, whereupon it, um, caught fire and reached #9. Warner Brothers quickly re-released the album as – what else? – Smoke From A Distant Fire.

If you haven’t listened to the song yet, don’t. First, let’s take a look at some of the lyrics from “Smoke From A Distant Fire.”

You left me here on your way to paradise
You pulled the rug right out from under my life

If things are the same then explain why your kiss is so cold
And that mist in your eyes feels like rain on the fire in my soul

Imagine these lyrics in the hands of somebody like Paul Davis, and you know what to expect: a slow, slow ballad, with very little guitar, and a plaintive, gentle vocal. In other words, a Mellow Gold classic. You get a taste of what it’s like to be burned by a woman you loved so much. And you feel bad for this guy who wrote these heartbreaking lyrics, but you’re praying he’s not going to call you tomorrow and cry some more. And of course, he is going to call you tomorrow and cry some more. Because he’s a pussy.

Okay, now you can listen to the song.

In the capable hands of Sanford, Townsend and co-writer Steven Stewart, this song takes a decidedly different path. Instead of a wistful, regretful tune, “Smoke From A Distant Fire” is one of the most enjoyable, happy, chipper songs about figuring out your girl is banging some other guy behind your back. I feel like it’s the kind of song that wedding bands play, and people dance and sing along, but have no idea what the song is about. The song screams joy, from beginning to end. A great shuffle, a terrific horn section, kickin’ keyboards and backing vocals, and of course, the powerful vocal from Townsend all make “Smoke” one hell of a tune. The bridge is great, too: “Don’t let the screen door hit you on the way out” is delivered perfectly, and the harmony leading into the solo is stellar. And yes, Virginia, there’s multiple sax solos. Multiple!

Just when you think this song can’t get better, they bring it down a bit with just 30 seconds left, and build up to an ending that actually made me shout “YES!” the first time I heard it. Yeah, I’m lame, we both know it, but see if you don’t get at least a touch of the same triumphant feeling at the end. Then, quickly remind yourself: this song is about somebody cheating! Hard to remember, isn’t it?

Now, I can’t write a lyric for shit, so it doesn’t take too much to impress me – however, I love the fact that “your eyes have a mist from the smoke of a distant fire” is not only a great line, but scans so “mist” rhymes with the “dist” in “distant.” These guys were clever, I tells ya.

So how did “Smoke From A Distant Fire” originate? Well, Stewart and Sanford shared an apartment, and Stewart would often stay up all night practicing classical guitar. Sanford, fed up from lack of sleep, complained that Stewart was wasting time on music that wouldn’t bring any cash flow into their lives. Stewart mockingly came up with a riff he felt was the kind of moneymaker that was beneath his level. Townsend heard the riff, ran to the piano, and “Smoke” was born. The title of the song comes from a poem Sanford wrote in college (and I’ll bet you anything the poem is mellow as all get-out).

“Smoke From A Distant Fire” was the only hit the duo would have. Sanford and Townsend continued their musical paths, however: Townsend played for a number of musicians, including Gregg Allman, and began work as a solo singer-songwriter. Sanford went a more mellow route; he’s a cowriter on McD’s “I Keep Forgettin’ (Every Time You’re Near)” and the Loggins/McD song “No Lookin’ Back.” All roads, people – all roads lead back to McD.

As an aside, it should be noted that in support of “Smoke,” Sanford & Townsend went on the road, opening for none other than Benny Mardones Fleetwood Mac, on theirRumours tour. And the circle is complete. See how nicely that wraps up? (No, I don’t know if any of them had sex with Stevie Nicks, so don’t ask.)

Thanks again for the request, and please, keep ’em coming! See you here next week for another Adventures Through The Mines of Mellow Gold!

CHART ATTACK! #13: 1/5/91

Friday, January 5th, 2007


Hello, everyone, and welcome back as we begin a new year of CHART ATTACK!  In truth, I only really missed one week, as the Billboard charts don’t publish the last week of the year.  Yeah, yeah, no excuse, I know.  So let’s cut right to the chase, and check out the charts from January 5, 1991!

10.  I’m Your Baby Tonight – Whitney Houston  Amazon iTunes
9.  The First Time – Surface
  Amazon iTunes
8.  Sensitivity – Ralph Tresvant  Amazon iTunes
7.  Love Will Never Do (Without You) – Janet Jackson  Amazon
6.  Impulsive – Wilson Phillips  Amazon iTunes
5.  Tom’s Diner – D.N.A. Featuring Suzanne Vega  Amazon iTunes
4.  High Enough – Damn Yankees  Amazon iTunes
3.  From A Distance – Bette Midler  Amazon iTunes
2.  Because I Love You (The Postman Song) – Stevie B.  Amazon iTunes
1.  Justify My Love – Madonna  Amazon iTunes

10.  I’m Your Baby Tonight – Whitney Houston  Nearly three years had passed between Houston’s second and third albums (brilliantly titled, respectively, Whitney Houston and Whitney).  The first two had been massive, massive hits – her second album was the first by a female artist to debut at #1, and featured a then record-breaking seven #1 hits – and the pressure was on Houston to not only deliver a matching third album, but an album that featured more of an R&B flavor than her lightly-criticized previous two pop records.  Enlisting L.A. Reid and Babyface to produce the entire record, I’m Your Baby Tonight definitely had an R&B feel (albeit light R&B), and the title track did reach #1 – thankfully for Houston – but the record didn’t match expectations, with only three singles reaching the Top 10.  Luckily, Houston bounced back the following year with The Bodyguard soundtrack.  Time will tell if 2007 becomes another comeback year.

9.  The First Time – Surface  Talk about light R&B: it doesn’t get any lighter than this, although to be fair, it’s no different from the other R&B songs on the charts (including this top 10) at the time.  I don’t even recall this song being a hit.  The only Surface song I remember is "Shower Me With Your Love," also in the "let’s sound really sensitive and maybe we’ll get laid" vein.  You wanna hear sensitive?  Check out the lead line in the chorus:  "The first time I looked into your eyes, I cried."  Now picture Ol’ Dirty Bastard releasing that as a single.  Still, let’s give credit where credit is due: "The First Time" stayed at #1 for two weeks, which beats out "I’m Your Baby Tonight."

8.  Sensitivity – Ralph Tresvant  Speaking of sensitive…damn, these songs are R&B Mellow Gold, fer chrissakes.  Despite having a fantastic voice, Tresvant has been one of the least successful New Edition graduates.  (That’s him singing lead on songs like "Candy Girl" and "Cool It Now.")  Clearly unsure about what success might follow outside New Edition, hitmakers Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis essentially held Tresvant’s hand through his eponymous solo debut.  They did great work, as "Sensitivity" peaked at #4 and topped the R&B charts.  Two other R&B charters followed, but nobody could accuse the man of being prolific: he released his second album in 1994, and 12 years passed until the release of the third.

7.  Love Will Never Do (Without You) – Janet Jackson  We spoke briefly of the massive success of Rhythm Nation 1814 back in CHART ATTACK! #6, when we covered the lead-off single, "Miss You Much."  This time, we’re covering the end of this specific reign, as this single was her seventh and final top-five hit from the album.  While it seems second-nature to view Jackson as a sex symbol, remember that in this point of her career, she was still an innocent.  Her previous album included the abstinence ballad "Let’s Wait Awhile," and RN 1814 was an album that spoke more of societal problems within the world.  I don’t think anybody would hear this song and think it’s "sexy" – it’s more "fun" like previous hits "When I Think Of You" and "Escapade" – but yet, it became the first time she was publicly viewed as an artist embracing her sexuality.  You can thank the late, great photographer Herb Ritts for that one, who created a beautiful video featuring both sides of her persona – the fun and the sexy.

6.  Impulsive – Wilson Phillips  Let’s give it up for Wendy Wilson – the hottest member of the group, IMHO – singing lead on this one.  Oh, let’s also give it up for yet another Wilson Phillips song that’s a terrible earworm.  What, am I the only one who heard this one too many times and wound up singing it without realizing it?  Just be thankful I’m not offering it for download.  You’d be pissed.  "Impulsive" peaked at #4, but I think the only reason it didn’t hit #1 is because the buying public liked the blonde one better.

5.  Tom’s Diner – D.N.A. Featuring Suzanne Vega (download)  I pride myself on knowing this song well before the remix became a hit.  Around the time of its initial release (on Vega’s 1987 release Solitude Standing), a syndicated radio program entitled "Kids America" would play it all the time.  I was a big "Kids America" fan, who would often play the parody version "Jeannie’s Diner" immediately following Vega’s version.

The D.N.A. version was a mashup of "Tom’s Diner" and the drum sample from Soul II Soul’s "Back To Life," and was an unofficial (and illegal) underground release.  As the song gained popularity, A&M (Vega’s record label) made an unprecedented move: instead of suing the artists for copyright infringement, they embraced the version and released it on their label.  It’s hard to imagine that a record label could be so fucking smart, isn’t it?  The D.N.A. version went on to become a massive hit, peaking here at #5 and essentially becoming Vega’s biggest-selling hit.  In 1991, Tom’s Album was released, containing 13 tributes to the tune.  You can hear a number of them in Coverville 131: Tom’s Coverville.

There are a couple of additional interesting facts about "Tom’s Diner," which I won’t get into here, but can be found via the following links:  Tom’s Diner Day, which uses scary, stalker-like brilliant deduction to conclude that the song must have been written on November 18, 1981, and Suzanne Vega: Mother of the MP3, which reveals that audio engineer Karlheinz Brandenburg used "Tom’s Diner" repeatedly to fine-tune the audio quality involved in the MP3 compression scheme.

4.  High Enough – Damn Yankees (download)  YES!  (pumps fist triumphantly.)  I loved this song from the minute I heard it – and when I heard it, I knew nothing about the group or its history.  You know, how Damn Yankees was a supergroup consisting of Jack Blades from Night Ranger, Tommy Shaw from Styx, Ted Nugent from…um…"Wang Dang Sweet Poontang," and some random drummer.  Okay, it was Michael Cartellone, who now plays with Skynyrd and apparently once recorded with Freddie Mercury (which is interesting, since most of Freddie’s solo stuff used drum machines, but whatever).  But back to the point: I didn’t know anything about them.  Here’s what I thought as I eagerly plunked down my money for the cassingle:

1)  Great verse!
2)  Wow, great lead-in to the chorus, too!
3)  Awesome chorus!
4)  Hey, isn’t this Nelson?
5)  (Looking at Shaw’s haircut) This IS Nelson!

The late ’80s/early ’90s were the defining years of the rock power ballad (the monster ballad, if you will), and "High Enough" is a classic.  It’s got acoustic guitar, a great duet vocal, strings, and an anthemic chorus.  Plus, there’s The Nuge rippin’ it on electric guitar.  And what about that video?  Nearly everybody’s in sunglasses  (except the drummer, because who cares) that are unique yet equally unfashionable today, and there’s big hair.  Shaw’s perm (with bangs!) front and center, y’all!

[youtube]cmOi87Hd440[/youtube]

I love Nuge in the video.  All he cares about is chewing gum.  You can tell he’s not behind the project, he just wants to rock.  (Hmmm…kind of like Shaw after Kilroy Was Here?)  There’s also some plot to the video, but I ignored it.  Also, I was blinded by Nuge’s ski glasses.

I like saying Nuge.  Nuge, Nuge, Nuge.

Thanks to a great song, a frequently-played video and some patriotism surrounding the band due to the Gulf War, "High Enough" peaked at #3 on the Billboard Hot 100.  It was enough for Shaw to say "Take THAT, you Styx pussies!"…at least until "Show Me The Way" matched it 2 months later.

On a side note, did anybody go to see Charlotte’s Web?  I hear Tommy Shaw has a cameo.  I’m serious.  It’s on the Internet.  It must be true.

3.  From A Distance – Bette Midler  If you’re around your late 20s/early 30s, then there’s a good chance you sang this in your school chorus.  What?  You didn’t?  Oh, lucky you.  Because we sang this one for what seemed like months and months.  A "From A Distance" marathon.  (Mike, who shared in the suffering, insists we also did "Just Once," but I don’t remember it – which is a shame, because that would have rocked.)  This was quite a successful time for Midler, as I’m sure you remember: "Wind Beneath My Wings" (a cover) was her first #1 in 1989, and "From A Distance" (a cover) reached #2 in the last few weeks of December.  Like "High Enough" before it, it was released at the perfect time: wartime!  Hooray!

2.  Because I Love You (The Postman Song) – Stevie B.  You’re forgiven if you don’t remember Stevie B.  But I bet you remember this song.  I was going to offer it for download, but it’s three minutes of your life you’d never have back, and I don’t want you to blame me for that.  You can listen to a sample, as always, in the Top 10 above.

For a man with only one real smash hit to his name, Stevie B. has certainly been prolific: he’s had 13 songs in the Hot 100, including three Top 20 singles.  I still maintain, however, that if you’re going to remember anything, it’s this short, sappy pop/R&B ballad.  The first line of the song is: "I got your letter from the postman just the other day/and so I decided to write you this song," which apparently was enough for him to subtitle it "(The Postman Song)."  The postman, the letter, or the U.S. mail get no further mentions.  I don’t understand people sometimes.

1.  Justify My Love – Madonna
  This song?  Nothing special.  It was written by Lenny Kravitz, Ingrid Chavez and Madonna, although Chavez did not have a credit at the time, supposedly since she was having an affair with Kravitz.  (Chavez later sued and received a substantial out-of-court settlement as a result).  It has a good beat, and it’s interesting in that Madonna speaks the entire lead vocal, but I don’t think it’s anything spectacular.  

However, certainly you remember the controversy over the video being too hot for MTV.  One of the few high-profile videos banned by the station, certainly it was the MTV publicity (as well as an appearance on "Nightline") that helped propel this to the top of the charts.  Madonna did the smartest thing possible, and released it as a video single.  I remember the video being stocked at our local corner store, but on the top shelf, above the porn magazines.  Well, if you’ve never seen it, now’s as good a time as any.

[youtube]_zuoEnf7fto[/youtube]

My favorite version of the video still remains the Saturday Night Live "Wayne’s World" version, which I remember seeing live, and being astounded that they actually landed Madonna for the vignette.  I still think it’s amusing, although if you haven’t seen it before, you’ll have to forgive the dated catchphrases.

[youtube]_YL5M-TsguA[/youtube]

And that brings us to the end of another Billboard-tastic week!  Have a great weekend, and see you next week for another CHART ATTACK!

Adventures Through The Mines Of Mellow Gold 14

Wednesday, January 3rd, 2007

mellowgoldlogo.jpg

Happy New Year, everybody! And what a special year 2007’s going to be. I can feel it in my heart, my bones, the place where my cojones used to be – 2007 will be, indeed, the Year Of The Wuss. I hope you had a happy holiday with at least a touch of relaxation. Me? After stuffing myself on Coley, Dupree, Fogelberg, Bishop and all four members of Starland Vocal Band (they were delicious), I needed a chance to digest. I swore off Mellow Gold for at least a week – enough time for my wife to forget I ever started listening to it in the first place. But sucks for her, ’cause we’re back with another week of Adventures Through The Mines Of Mellow Gold!

Ambrosia – Biggest Part Of Me (download)

Snarking this one’s going to be hard, because I think “Biggest Part Of Me” is a perfect song. Seriously. I’m hard-pressed to find a damn thing wrong with it. Actually, that’s not completely true; I can find one thing wrong with it, which I’ll get to eventually, but I maintain that the song is just awesome. I’m in pretty good company on this one, too – Quincy Jones has declared it to be one of his favorite songs.

Ambrosia was formed in 1971 in Hermosa Beach, California, and although it took a number of years, wound up with a record contract through a number of fortunate circumstances. Y’see, the band had a friend who was a sound engineer, and needed a music group to help test the sound system at the Hollywood Bowl. Ambrosia showed up, played a blistering set, and caught the attention of famous classical engineer Gordon Perry. Perry invited Los Angeles Philharmonic director Zubin Mehta to see the band, who agreed with Perry’s assessment of the band. Mehta took the band under his wing, hired them to perform at the Bowl as part of a “Great American Songbook” concert, and helped them record their first full demo. Surprisingly, Herb Alpert wasn’t interested over at A&M (a sure sign that this band knew how to rock), but newly-formed label 20th Century Fox finally signed the group, giving Ambrosia their first record deal four years after their formation.

Ambrosia has a few Mellow Gold classics, including “You’re The Only Woman” and “How Much I Feel,” which we’ll cover in time. However, this band wasn’t always a fount of wuss music. As I’m sure many of you know, their roots were in progressive rock, reflected in their first two albums. Their eponymous debut – engineered and mixed by Alan Parsons – featured two charting singles, including the awesomely-titled “Nice, Nice, Very Nice,” sung as a duet between members David Pack and Joe Puerta. (I’ve never heard this song, yet I already know I want to play it during sex.) However, their biggest hit arrived with their third album, Life Beyond L.A. “How Much I Feel” was a departure for the band: instead of prog-rock, it was a gentle pop ballad with smooth backing vocals. It was almost left off the album for this very reason, as the band didn’t want to alienate their rock fans. (Think of it as their version of Styx’s “Babe.”)

The success of “How Much I Feel” caused Pack and Ambrosia to re-think their artistic direction, and their pop sensibilities were thus reflected in their next album, One Eighty. This brings us to “Biggest Part Of Me,” which matched their previous wussy hit by reaching #3.

Do you want to know why “Biggest Part Of Me” is such a Mellow Gold classic? Firstly, instrumentation. The keyboard is the primary instrument. There’s a little bit of guitar, but not much. In fact, the guitar gets completely pimp-slapped by both the keyboard and the saxophone. We already know that no Mellow Gold song is truly complete without a sax solo. There are two in “Biggest Part Of Me.” In fact, the guitar gets just a teeny chance to solo (and even then, the keyboard’s wailing in the background), and then the sax comes back with a big ol’ “I don’t think so, bitch!” Two sax solos in one song: that’s Mellow Gold.

Let’s talk about vocals. This song wouldn’t be memorable at all if not for the soaring vocal by David Pack. A strong, soulful voice with an unbelievable range and a clear-as-day falsetto, his performance makes the song what it is. And you’ve got some unbelievable backing vocals. I mean, seriously: unbelievable. I’m clearly not motivated enough to analyze the structure, but we’re not talking your usual third-and-fifth-above harmonies here. These are jazzy, open harmonies. And listen to the backing vocal in the chorus: “Wishing it will cooooome…true!” Right there is everything you could ever want from a backing vocal.

Wait a minute, I take it back. It’s missing one thing:

Think about it: “Biggest Part Of Me” sounds like a McD song that’s missing the McD, and this is partially what gives it the MG quality. I don’t think a McD vocal would have the same effect as Pack’s, but I could definitely hear him singing lead. (I could listen to McD singing anything from “Biggest Part Of Me” to “Hello Muddah, Hello Fadduh.”) And can’t you just hear him in the backing vocal? It hurts me to know that he eventually became a close friend of Pack’s, but obviously not in time to contribute to this song. In fact, here’s a fucking awesome picture of McD, Amy Holland, Pack and James Ingram. They should have created their own SuperWussyGroup.


Choose your own caption:
David Pack during his “lost Miami Vice weekend”
Michael McDonald during his “failed hair bleach experiment”
James Ingram during his “dressing like a cracker” phase
Amy Holland thinking “I hope this leads to me getting a song on the St. Elmo’s Fire soundtrack”

I mean, yeah, it sounds like McD’s singing anyway, but I’d just feel better knowing he was actually there, y’know? Oh well.

I did mention that there is just one small thing wrong with “Biggest Part Of Me.” Nobody – including David Pack himself – knows how to leave well enough alone. This song has been covered numerous times, and suffice to say that nothing even comes close to the original. Artists like Take 6 and John Tesh have watered it down until it becomes a mushy mess of smooth jazz (and you and I both know that there is nothing that comes close to the hell reserved for creators and lovers of smooth fucking jazz). Pack pulled a Mardones and re-recorded it for his 2005 album The Secret Of Movin’ On, and even his result is smooth jazz dreck. I don’t even want to talk about what Livingston Taylor (an artist I genuinely like) did to “Biggest Part Of Me.” Listen to a 30-second sample yourself, if you dare. I won’t dignify his cover with a comment. Okay, just one: it makes me want to jump off a bridge. (“bay-beeeee?” WTF?)

I’ll give Pack credit for one thing, however: he still sings “Biggest Part Of Me” in the original key, and his vocal still packs a mighty wallop. He doesn’t tour much with Ambrosia anymore; in fact, he seems to be quite chummy with Steve Perry. (Maybe the two of them get together with Dennis DeYoung and collectively curse their former bands.) If you do hear of Pack touring with Ambrosia again, though, it might be worth checking out. Take advantage of a wussy opportunity and see if they live up to their performance on Merv Griffin:

[youtube]pcrzfNrneXw[/youtube]

And hey, is it just me, or does Pack look just a little like Will Ferrell?



Man, now I have a hankering for some McD.

Christopher Cross – All Right (download)

Our second pilgrimage to The Cross, “All Right” was the first single released from his second album, Another Page. As you’ll know if you’ve read Jefito’s definitive Idiot’s Guide To Christopher Cross, the album wasn’t very good. Sure, it had a hit one year after its release – “Think Of Laura,” which was undoubtedly helped by exposure on General Hospital – but the album, as a whole, was a disappointment to those who were expecting greatness from the man who won five Grammy Awards 2 years’ prior. “All Right” never made it past #12.

If you want more information as to where Cross went wrong with his career, Jeff’s guide is for you. I’m just here to talk about the anthem of flaccid men everywhere.

Firstly, the music. I can’t say for sure, but I’d bet that Cross was a bit jealous of Joey Scarbury’s hit theme from Greatest American Hero. That, and clearly he was having sex with a synthesizer at the time. There’s your standard synthesized piano sound, but then you’ve got this arpeggiated, swirling keyboard sound that I would swear was lifted straight out of “Flashdance…What A Feeling.” It’s WIMPY, people! It doesn’t lend itself to the triumphant feeling this song is trying to put forth. For a few fleeting moments, Cross does rise (musically) above these deficits to give the song at least a little bit of a kick in the ‘nads, thanks to a pretty strong electric guitar and an impressive guitar solo – one that, Jefito assures me, is courtesy of Cross himself. However, just when you think it’s all right, you think we’re gonna make it, he wusses out again! Skip to around 2:05, when he’s coming out of the chorus with a building guitar stab – and then a pause – and then that awful piano riff. Oh, Christopher. You thought we were going to make it. We didn’t.

Speaking of, there are some classic Mellow Gold lines in here. Take the chorus: “All right, think we’re gonna make it.” Uh, you sure about that, Chris? ‘Cause you don’t sound sure. I don’t know how much more tentative this hook could be. “All right, think it’s possible we could come maybe a little close to actually making it…possibly” is a bit better, but it just doesn’t scan. And how about “think it might just work out this time.” You THINK it MIGHT JUST work out THIS TIME? Dude! She’s not going to stick around if you don’t act like you’re sure! Be a man! If I were the girl, I’d slap you in the face with a flamingo and start searching for a real man, like Andrew Gold.

The biggest problem of “All Right,” however, isn’t the music or the lyrics. The problem is that Christopher Cross’s voice just doesn’t lend itself to this kind of song. I have no problems with the others in terms of vocal quality: “Sailing?” Take me away! “Arthur’s Theme?” I’m caught between the moon and blah blah blah! “Think of Laura?” Dude, I’m thinking – and I’m in tears! (I know, she wouldn’t want me to, shut up.) And I know the man can spit out an edgy vocal, evidenced by “Ride Like The Wind.” (And by “edgy,” I mean “edgy if you consider Emo Phillips edgy.”) He makes the absolute wrong decision here. He toes the line between whining and wailing, and it’s his fault the song – intended to be one of those kick-ass, we did it, you guys! songs – completely misses the mark. And because it misses the mark…it’s Mellow Gold. Q.E.D.

But you know what? Somehow, this song works. Example: yesterday, as I finished a really good workout and was stretching, guess what chorus entered into my head? That’s right. I smiled before I even realized what I was singing. Clearly, it’s the anthem for pussies. Oh, and whenever I’m around Mike and he sings the chorus (the only part any of us know), he pumps his fist in the air. You don’t just go pumping your fist in the air for no reason at all, unless you’re clinically insane or Benny Mardones. And I’d argue Mike doesn’t even realize he’s doing it. The Cross just takes over. And you know damn well this fucking chorus is going to be in your head all day. (You’re welcome.) So the song has redeeming qualities. And I can only come up with one good reason why:


He rocked the shit out of “Ride Like The Wind,” so thankfully Cross was smart enough to call McD back for the sophomore album and this song. Granted, his presence isn’t as obvious as “Ride.” In fact, I’ll be honest: until I really started listening to “All Right” for this entry, I didn’t know he was on the track. You think I’d be ashamed of such a thing, loving McD the way that I do. I’m not ashamed. Know why? Because I’m convinced that his presence subconsciously entered my brain, and that’s why I wound up feeling good about the song. Thank you again, McD, for being you. You are my hero.

Jefito, clearly being the only person ambitious enough to write an Idiot’s Guide to Christopher Cross, sent me a remix of “All Right” that I must share with you. It’s from an import version of The Definitive Collection. Is it good? No, not necessarily. But when has that stopped me from passing it on?

Christopher Cross – All Right (Remix) (download)

Download, and get your wussy groove on! And don’t forget to stop by next week for more Adventures Through The Mines Of Mellow Gold!