Archive for May, 2007

Adventures Through The Mines Of Mellow Gold 34

Wednesday, May 30th, 2007

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Welcome back to another week of Adventures Through The Mines Of Mellow Gold! Before I get started – anybody see The Simpsons a couple of weeks ago, where Homer becomes a fireman? Mellow Gold Alert: there’s a montage with Homer near the end of the episode, and “Sad Eyes” by Robert John is playing. Could it be? Are The Simpsons producers reading this website? Definitely not. But I was still excited.

Anyway, on to the wuss music! This week, I chose a song that doesn’t really need much snarking. It’s simply a great song that always puts a smile on my face, and wouldn’t you know it, it’s from a band that we’ve previously unearthed from the mines!

Little River Band – Lady (download)

We last talked about Little River Band back in Mellow Gold #9. I’m sure you all go back and review those entries on a daily basis, but in case you’ve forgotten:

Hailing from Australia (which you’d never know from the vocals, clearly influenced by the music of the west coast), Little River Band originated as a band called Mississippi, but found that Australians didn’t seem to care for a band with such an American name. A street sign on their way to a gig in Australia influenced them to change their minds. Already huge in Australia, the band attempted to make it big in the UK, but were met with general indifference (much like other Australian bands at the time). Their manager, however, already had a strong sense of the American industry, and decided to set the band’s sights on the States.

Little River Band flourished in America: they became the first Australian band to truly hit it big, and sustain that success, in the United States. Between 1978 and 1982, the band had six consecutive singles in the Top 10, which at the time made them the only band – period – to claim such a feat. While their single “Lady” remains their best-selling single to date, “Reminiscing” was their highest charter, peaking at #5.

“Lady” reached #10 and stayed on the charts for an impressive 14 weeks. In my previous entry, I declared “Reminiscing” to be my favorite, but now that I’m paying attention to “Lady”, I’m not sure. “Reminiscing” is definitely a cooler song musically, with fantastic chords (I know, ’cause I can’t play ‘em), but “Lady” has so much going for it. It starts off all smooth, light guitar and piano, and then slowly builds into a song that actually kinda rocks. LRB throws in some strings, a little bit of guitar, and before we know it, we’re groovin’ into the chorus in something that almost feels….rock-ish. Crazy, I know! It does this multiple times. It’s some kind of mellow deception, I tell you. Actually, I’ll give most of the credit to the bassline, which seems to set the tone for the rest of the instruments – especially in that chorus. And at one point, there’s even some other percussion that I think actually is a fucking woodblock.

And how about these lyrics? They’re definitely mellow; only a true wimp could write “feel for the winter but don’t have a cold heart” and not burst out laughing afterwards. And did I mention that the name of the song is “Lady”? If we’ve been over it once, we’ve been over it a thousand times: when we’re deep in the mines, a telltale sign that we’ve struck mellow gold is a song calling a female “woman” or “lady.” Ever tried to say this out loud, by the way? Doesn’t work. (Trust me.)

However, let’s give some credit to songwriter Graeham Goble: remember back when we talked about “Reminiscing” and those double-edged lyrics? He writes this wonderful story about looking back on life and then twists the knife by stating “oh, the times we’re missing spending the hours reminiscing.” Well, Goble does something similar here: he expresses a sweet, genuine sentiment, but can’t help but throw a wink at us as well. I know, because this little wink got me into some trouble the other day.

So all through the weekend, I was singing this song. Couldn’t help it: the sun was shining, I was grilling in the backyard, I was in a great mood. So I’m singing the song to my wife, and get to the chorus (which, as we previously mentioned, is the best part). I sing the first line:

So lady, let me take a look at you now
You’re there on the dance floor making me want you somehow

Only problem is, the look I’m getting from my wife is one of those “you’re in the doghouse” looks. I can’t figure out why until she points out to me that “you’re there on the dance floor making me want you somehow” is actually relatively insulting – you know, like “it’s unbelievable that a beast like you could actually turn me on.” I tried to dig myself out of the hole by continuing:

Lady, I think it’s only fair I should say to you
Don’t be thinking that I don’t love you, ’cause maybe I do

Thanks, Little River Band. You ruined my Sunday.

So these lyrics are kinda sucky. I guess I never noticed it because of those stellar harmonies. Shit, change it to “lady, let me throw a book at you now” and I’ll still feel the same way about the awesomeness of this song.

Like many other bands of this era and genre, Little River Band experienced their share of personnel changes. In 1981, lead singer Glenn Shorrock left the group (or was fired, depending on who you ask), and was replaced by fellow Australian John Farnham. Farnham was primarily known in his home country for a novelty single called “Sadie (The Cleaning Lady)” and had recently hired LRB’s manager to take charge of his career. Farnham eventually had his own dramas with Little River Band, and went on to create his own unbelievably successful career in his home country – but that’s a story for another Mellow Gold entry. I mention him here because, in my mind, he furthered the mellow deception: his unbelievable voice helped turn some of their smoothest songs – including “Lady” – into rockers.

A few days ago, I was perusing YouTube and came across FritzRitz’s extensive LRB/Farnham collection. Included was a live version of “Lady,” audio only, that blew my mind. (Let’s not think about how sad it is that this song blew my mind.) I asked nicely and FritzRitz generously sent me the song to share with all of you. There are two noticeable skips in the song, which are a bummer, to be sure, but I don’t think it’ll take away from your general enjoyment of the song.

Little River Band (with John Farnham) – Lady (live) (download)

Rockin’, right? Check out some of the other videos on YouTube with LRB featuring Farnham, while I go searching for a live bootleg featuring this incarnation of the band. Farnham’s voice impresses the hell out of me. I don’t recommend you listen to his version of “Reminiscing” – a bit too much on the vocal gymnastics for my taste – but when I eventually convince my band that we must cover “Lady,” this is the version I’m sending them. Well, I’d throw the piano back in. But other than that, this song is perfect. I plan on listening to it all summer. I feel bad for those around me.

See you next week for another Adventure Through The Mines Of Mellow Gold! Thanks for reading!

CHART ATTACK! #33: 5/23/87

Friday, May 25th, 2007


Hooray!

I didn’t think it’d be possible to churn this out for today, but right after writing that “Chartless” post, I had the idea that maybe I could take a Top 10 and split it between a few of us.  And that’s what I did.  I’m brilliant, I know.

Yesterday morning, I requested some help, and received great entries from:

Kurt, recently retired blogger, but who will continue to make appearances at many sites, thankfully;
Robert, who will be displaying his comedic talents as part of The Fowler Family Radio Hour over Memorial Day weekend in South Carolina; (holy cow, I feel like Leno!);
Mike, of the snarky Down With Snark, who exclaimed “This is a great week!” after only hearing #9 and #10;
Me, who is seriously thinking about delegating these entries on a regular basis.

All three got back to me in record time with their insightful and witty comments, and made this CHART ATTACK! possible.  So without further ado, here we go, collectively attacking May 23, 1987!

10.  Talk Dirty To Me – Poison  Amazon iTunes
9.  La Isla Bonita – Madonna  Amazon iTunes
8.  Always – Atlantic Starr  Amazon iTunes
7.  Big Love – Fleetwood Mac   Amazon iTunes
6.  Heat Of The Night – Bryan Adams  Amazon iTunes
5.  (I Just) Died In Your Arms – Cutting Crew  Amazon
4.  You Keep Me Hangin’ On – Kim Wilde  Amazon iTunes
3.  The Lady In Red – Chris de Burgh  Amazon iTunes
2.  Looking For A New Love – Jody Watley  Amazon iTunes
1.  With Or Without You – U2  Amazon iTunes

10.  Talk Dirty To Me – Poison

Kurt:  I was working at a record store when this was released. I’ll never forget the day we opened the box of albums and the cover of Look What The Cat Dragged In was staring back at us. My co-worker picked it up, studied it for a second or two and pronounced that, “these chicks are pretty hot!” It was only after we cut open the shrink rap and gave that sucker a spin did we realize that these were dudes! True story.

Anyways, once this single hit, there was no stopping this album. It’s everything arena rock was supposed to be: big, dumb and catchy. They were the modern day Cheap Trick (even though Cheap Trick was still around, no one paid attention to them until they hooked up with outside songwriters for “The Flame” later in the decade). We didn’t listen to Poison for CC Deville’s woeful guitar playing or because they wanted to save fly ridden African children. Nope, we listened to Poison while we drank warm Schlitz beer and tried to get with whatever girl looked appropriate depending on how much Schlitz we drank. In essence, this is true “cock rock.”

9.  La Isla Bonita – Madonna

Michael:  I wasn’t sure what I was going to say about this. It’s one of my favorite Madonna songs. It was the 5th consecutive top-5 single off True Blue (it hit #4 in the US and #1 all over the world). The video features a young Benecio Del Toro. That was all I could think to say.

Then I checked Wikipedia.

You know why I love Wikipedia? Here’s the first sentence of the Wiki for La Isla Bonita:

“La Isla Bonita” (The beautiful island) is a 1987 single by Madonna. The composition was written by Patrick Leonard and Bruce Gaitsch, and originally intended for Michael Jackson for his Bad album, who, according to Gaitsch, turned it down.

!!!

I cant even get my head around that. What about Michael Jackson’s prior work made the authors think that a latin song, about heterosexuals, with nylon string guitar and spanish lyrics would appeal to el rey de la música popular? I guess it makes sense though. Every songwriter on earth was probably trying to get Michael to sing their song in the post Thriller years. It begs the question, how many of Billboard’s top 100 pop songs from 1987 were actually intended for Michael Jackson? I would conservatively guess 57, including “I Wanna Dance With Somebody,” “Always,” “I Want Your Sex,” “Little Lies” and “Keep Your Hands To Yourself.”

Leonard also co-wrote “Cherish,” “True Blue,” “Like a Prayer,” “Live to Tell” and “Who’s That Girl.” Impressive.

Bonus: here’s a live version from the “Confessions” tour:




8.  Always – Atlantic Starr

Robert:  This song was made for wedding receptions. I may have even been to some receptions where it was played, but I can’t remember.  It just feels like it was intentionally created for that special day when two people exchange vows and promise to stay together for the duration of the final trimester. Lo and behold, when I looked up the lyrics for “Always” on the Internet, the first search result I got was from a site called weddingvendors.com. (Right above the lyrics was a banner ad with the following headline: “Is your wedding at risk?” Not if you play “Always”!)

Matthew Bolin talked about Atlantic Starr’s “Secret Lovers” in Chart Attack #21, and I talked about the group’s “Masterpiece” in Chart Attack #23, which means together we’ve covered all three of Atlantic Starr’s Top 10 pop hits. (This baffles my mind.  – JH)   Now let us never speak of them again.

7.  Big Love – Fleetwood Mac

Jason:  I can’t be positive, but I believe this song might have been my first introduction to Fleetwood Mac.  (Oh, stop raising your eyebrows at me.  I was 10 at the time.)  This was the first summer that I went to sleepaway camp, and I remember taking an acting class (I was a hit with the ladies) that began each session with a meditation-type warm-up.  It was supposed to be a time of quiet reflection, deep breathing, tranquility, all that jazz.  Only problem was that our warm-up occurred at the exact same time as the warm-up for the dance class in the studio next door.  That class – every session, without fail – did their warm-up to “Big Love.”  So my very first meditation sessions – 10 years old – included that oddly synthetic “oh/ah/oh/ah” from this track.  (Both voices, by the way, are Buckingham.)  I think I may even have a cassette tape lying around somewhere from when I recorded the meditation session…with “Big Love” playing, muffled, in the background.

“But Jason,” I hear you saying.  “I don’t give a shit about the first time you heard ‘Big Love.’”

That’s a good point.  But this is what you get when I’m rushing around, people.  What can I tell you.

The studio version of “Big Love” is nothing special (although awesome for its lack of Stevie Nicks), and I’m not sure that many people would have ever given it a second thought had Lindsey Buckingham not released his blistering solo version on Fleetwood Mac’s reunion live album.  I’m sure you’ve seen this already, but you should watch it again.

6.  Heat Of The Night – Bryan Adams

Kurt:  A few years prior, there was almost no bigger pop/rock star than Bryan Adams. His “Reckless” disc pumped out single after single and they all were hits (six of the ten tunes hit the Top 15). Even the non-singles were getting significant radio play leading me to believe that it rivaled “Thriller” in this department.

So when you’re on top of the arena rock world, what would you do in advance of your next album? If you said, “release a slow, plodding and ultimately boring track as the first single,” you would be correct. In fact, the whole album of Into The Fire was like Evil goateed Spock as compared to Reckless being the clean-shaven and logical Spock. I mean, when you’re singing songs about the plight of Native Americans, no longer do the “Kids Wanna Rock.” I think this one hit the Top 10 on Bryan’s name alone. There’s no other way to explain how a song THIS boring was successful.

5.  (I Just) Died In Your Arms – Cutting Crew

Michael:  Look Jay, your favorite, a ridiculous parenthetical in the title!  (Grrrr. – JH)

This is a great song. It totally encapsulates the late 80s. It has staccato synths, whammy-bar heavy, pointy-headstock guitar histrionics and completely unintelligible lyrics.  (Seriously: “she’s loving by proxy?” “the cat’s in the cradle?” What?) This was the Cutting Crew’s only US hit, going all the way to number 1 and hitting the top 5 in the UK as well.

Here’s the video:

The lead guitar player, Kevin MacMichael, ended up playing with Robert Plant after EMI dropped Cutting Crew. One hopes Robert made him lose his Cutting Crew era hair, though. How would one describe it? Mushroom cloud mullet?  All kidding aside, I think the guitar in this song is great, especially the harmonies at the end.

Kevin passed away in 2002, and the lead singer, Nick Van Eade reformed Cutting Crew recently. For more information about Cutting Crew than you probably ever wanted to know, please go here(Also, check out Jefito’s recent Cutouts Gone Wild! on Cutting Crew – JH)

4.  You Keep Me Hangin’ On – Kim Wilde (download)

Jason:  This song is one of the few in Billboard chart history that have reached #1 twice by different artists.  (There have been nine in total, and only one instance this decade – anybody wanna take a guess?)  The song first hit #1 in November of 1966, yet another Holland-Dozier-Holland smash hit for the Supremes (this single was immediately following “You Can’t Hurry Love”), and reached the top of the charts again for Wilde in 1987.  In 1968, it was also a #6 hit for Vanilla Fudge.  But fuck them.  We’re here to talk about Kim Wilde.

I was all set to apologize (or, at the very least, hang my head in shame) for not knowing initially that this was a Supremes cover.  But two points in my defense:  first of all, I was just a lil’ Hare going in circles at the roller rink (which is where I’m convinced I first heard this song), and second of all, the cover has been adapted so accurately to the sound of the ’80s that it legitimately sounds like it could be an ’80s original.  At least that’s the story I’m going with.

Other than 1982′s “Kids In America,” this was Kim Wilde’s only U.S. hit.  She still remains quite popular in Europe, and is still quite attractive.  (A little Ripa-ish, no?)

3.  The Lady In Red – Chris de Burgh

Robert:  Two years ago I was in a sketch show in Chicago called Absence of Absence; one of the sketches centered on a foul-mouthed University of Wisconsin football fan wearing a red UW Badgers sweatshirt. The scene begins with the female fan screaming some obscenities at the Badgers’ coach after a bad play. The man sitting next to her instantly falls in love. Cue “The Lady in Red.”

That sketch was the one thing most people remembered about the show. (I didn’t come up with it, so I’ll admit I was jealous.) The payoff of Chris de Burgh’s romantic ballad being played over an otherwise silent, slow-motion scene, which ends with the obnoxious fan and her admirer accidentally inciting violence in the stands, had people laughing throughout. Comic juxtaposition can be a hoot.

Wikipedia says “The Lady in Red” went to #1 in 25 countries, but it peaked at #3 on the U.S. pop chart (it may have gone to #1 on the adult contemporary chart; I wouldn’t be surprised). The song was inspired by de Burgh’s wife, and I like the sentiment of it, which boils down to this: “Because I’ve been taking you for granted recently, I’ve forgotten what a knockout you are. Please kick me in the face the next time I forget. Thanks, sweetie!”

2.  Looking For A New Love – Jody Watley (download)

Jason:  “Looking For A New Love”: released 1987.  Terminator 2: Judgment Day released 1991.  So you tell me: is the cold, hard truth that the famous Arnold line “Hasta la vista, baby” was a direct quote from a Jody Watley song?  I mean, I know Jody Watley wasn’t the first to say it…or was she?  Was she the first one to use it in a way that would affect popular culture?

As I mentioned in a previous Attack, Watley left the group Shalamar (isn’t that the last word in the Family Ties theme song?) in 1984 and began her solo career with this track in late 1986.  Although the song peaked here at #2 (damn you, U2!  Damn you, Cutting Crew), it still remains one of the biggest hits of 1987, and I love it.  I pretty much love anything Jody Watley released on her first two solo albums.  However, I gotta be honest – she’s looking kinda freaky these days.

1.  With Or Without You – U2

Jason:  See the stone set in your thighs, see the blah blah blah zzzzzz.  I’m betting I’m in the minority here, but I just can’t bring myself to like U2 as much as I want to, or as much as I’m supposed to.  This would probably make for a pretty good discussion all by itself, separate from this post.  I own U2 albums, I have the hits collection, but yet when a U2 song comes on my iPod or the radio, I skip or change the dial.  That pretty much includes this song.  I’m not saying it’s not a pretty song.  I’m not saying the lyrics aren’t great lyrics.  I’m just saying that I think it’s overrated.

Either way, when “With Or Without You” reached #1 the week prior, it became the first U2 single to do better in the States than in Europe, where it stalled at #4.  It also was the band’s first #1 in America.  The follow-up single, “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For,” also reached #1, but they haven’t had another chart-topper on the Hot 100 since.  The closest they’ve come is “Desire,” peaking at #3.

And that’ll do it for this week!  Thanks again to Kurt, Robert and Mike for jumping in at the last minute and making this entry possible!  Have a great holiday weekend and see you next time!

Not Chartless!

Thursday, May 24th, 2007

Scratch that, reverse it:  we’ll be Chart Attackin’ this week!  Look for it to go live a bit later – either Friday afternoon or Saturday morning at the latest – and featuring some guest attackin’ from a few people who stepped in to assist during my busy week.

Tomorrow!

Chartless!

Wednesday, May 23rd, 2007

It pains me to say so, but there will be no CHART ATTACK! this Friday.  Long story short:  busy week at work, rehearsals for two different bands and a play, and any free nights this week were spent listening to Christopher Cross and that god-awful Lou Reed song.  See?  When Lou Reed’s involved, we all get punished.

Have a wonderful Memorial Day weekend, and I’ll see you next week for more Mellow Gold and CHART ATTACK!-y goodness!

Adventures Through The Mines Of Mellow Gold 33

Wednesday, May 23rd, 2007

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So.

Apparently you guys weren’t on board for last week’s selection, “Couldn’t Get It Right.” Hell, you were even skeptical that there was any cowbell in the song at all. (To your credit, though, I’ve never been witness to such a spirited discussion of cowbell v. woodblock.) It’s okay. I admit I was slightly devastated affected by it, but I can’t spend time sulking, no matter how mellow a reaction it might be. I know what I’ve got to do. I’ve got to rebound. I’ve got to come back strong.

I’ve got to ride.

Christopher Cross – Ride Like The Wind (download)

Behold, mellow fans! This is what happens when a pussy puts on a cowboy hat and chaps!

We’ve encountered Christopher Cross twice before whilst spelunking deep in these mines (which I think now makes him our most frequently-covered artist so far), but oddly enough, the songs we’ve covered were not part of his unbelievable smash debut album. “Ride Like The Wind” was the first single – and an impressive entrance onto the pop scene at #2, I might add – from Christopher Cross. Yes, that’s one balls-to-the-wall album title right there, but if nothing else, it helps you understand why this song – his most uptempo, “gritty” hit – still sounds like it’s swimming upstream in oatmeal.

So, what’s the inspiration behind a wild – wild! – song like “Ride Like The Wind?” It’s hard to say. Perhaps Cross was inspired by his Texas upbringing, but let me tell you – growing up in Texas doesn’t automatically make you a cowboy. I grew up on Long Island, and I’m not a spoiled little…well, maybe this isn’t the best example. But look – this is the same man who felt that fantasy got the best of him while he was sailing, and we’re supposed to believe that he was some kind of outlaw, on the run (no time to speak)? I don’t buy it. Do you? Did anybody, even with the song being the world’s introduction to the man? Let’s examine the facts here:

1) Music. The strongest percussion in here comes from the bongos, apparently trying to replicate the sound of a horse. A horse that was doing some kind of two-step, apparently, but a horse nonetheless.

2) Lyric. “I was born the son of a lawless man.” Christopher Cross’s dad was an army officer. That seems pretty, uh…what’s the polar opposite of lawless? Not lawless? Yeah. That’s totally not lawless.

3) General Fact. This man wrote “Sailing.” I rest my case.

And don’t forget this lyrical gem: “Always spoke my mind with a gun in my hand.” Seriously. Are you buying this? And if you said “yes,” then you’re obviously Christopher Cross’s mom, and you don’t count. I did a play once where I had to smoke a cigarette. (If you can’t imagine how awkward this looks, imagine Christopher Cross trying to get on a horse. Same thing.) My mom told me I did “a very nice job.” She was lying. My point is that you can try to escape who you are, but you had better have some cojones behind it. Or at least a snare drum. I’m just saying.

For argument’s sake, let’s pretend for a second that we’re on board with this absurd role-playing fantasy. Mr. Cross is some kind of outlaw.
And I can relate. Can’t we all? I ask you: who among us hasn’t had to ride, ride like the wind, to be free again? What’s that? None of us? Okay, clearly this isn’t working. I just can’t be convinced, no matter what.

Even the first line is making it difficult for me to go along with this story: “It is the night, my body’s weak.” I know what I’m supposed to think.

Exterior: Death Valley, CA
Time: 9:00 PM

The sun has set, but the temperature is still a blistering 92°. Our protagonist is stumbling through miles of flat, dusty terrain. He can still hear the rumble of horses’ hooves, but he isn’t sure whether he’s still being followed or they’re merely in his head. In his mouth is the taste of sand, kicked up by his spurs. He desperately wants to rest, but he can’t. It is the night. His body’s weak. He’s on the run, no time to speak. He’s got to ride. Ride like the wind.

Instead, this is all I can really think of:

Interior: Dunkin’ Donuts, Grand Rapids, MI
Time: 10:30 PM

The sun has set, but the temperature inside is still a cool 62°. Our protagonist is lying on the floor near the cash register. He can still hear the sound of the cashier, asking him if he’s sure he wants a fifth French Cruller, but he isn’t sure whether it’s just the sound of his rumbling gut echoing in his ears. In his mouth is the taste of glazed sugar. He desperately wants to eat another one, but he can’t. It is the night. His body’s weak. He’s trying to roll over, no time to speak. He’s got to eat. Eat like the wind.

Now this, I’m buying.

But it wasn’t just the lyrics. It was the vocal. As I said in a previous Mellow Gold, the vocal for “Ride Like The Wind” is edgy if you consider Emo Phillips edgy. He doesn’t sound like he’s in danger, or even mildly threatened. He just sounds so whiny, and…hey, you know who he sounds like? He sounds like that d-bag from Washington Square Park!

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Anyway, you all know what I’m leading up to at this point: the fact that the reason this song was a #2 hit – and a Mellow Gold classic – is because of one person.

I don’t know how they met, and frankly, I don’t give a shit. All that’s important was that McD joined Cross in the studio, and added some great lead vocal lines – most likely because Cross was busy with an Egg McMuffin.

I know that you’re all chomping at the bit right now, thinking “SCTV! SCTV!” Here’s the clip from SCTV – later referenced in a Yacht Rock ep – of Michael McDonald recording his vocal.

I like this clip, but it drives me nuts, because it’s historically inaccurate: they don’t include McD singing the “ba da ba da” part. That was, like, all McD, man! Damn.

Anyway, you have to love McD’s part on this song. (And I mean that: it’s a requirement for visiting this site.) I think the whole song should have been McD. My favorite McD moment in this song is the very last “such a long way to go.” It’s a bit varied from the others, and has that sound of “C’mon, Chris, how many more times are you gonna make me sing this line? I can’t write this for you,” with Chris in the control booth, speculating on how much of a moneymaker McD will be, frantically betting on horses and going, “Just one more, Mike! Please!”

So although the truth is probably that the Cross/McD hookup was probably orchestrated by producer Michael Omartian or somebody at Warner Bros owed a favor, the two became friends and co-collaborators. (One day we’ll take a look at the non-MG song “Someday,” by Cross with McD backing vocals. Jeff sent it to me one day and I subquently played it 14 times in a row.) Here’s a performance of “Ride Like The Wind” from McD’s A Gathering Of Friends DVD.

It strikes me that going to see Christopher Cross live might be the most tepid concert imaginable. Although here’s what makes this clip awesome:

- Christopher Cross actually sounding weak on “My body’s weak.” I’ve heard three live performances of this song, and I have yet to hear him actually hit the right note on the word “weak.” How apropos! He just always goes a little flat.

- Backing vocals: Kim Carnes, y’all! Top single of 1981, and now she’s singing backup on “Ride Like The Wind” in The Michael McDonald Band.

- Michael McDonald’s vocals, obviously, but specifically his last “such a long way to go,” which impresses Cross enough that he forgets to come in with the next line and has to rush it, and his ad-libs over Cross’s guitar solo.

- Cross’s guitar solo. He’s a great fucking guitarist, actually, which you’d never know from the mellow original. See, on the original, he’s rippin’ it on guitar, but Omartian knew: don’t put the guitar higher than McD. Nobody knows you play guitar, Chris, and that’s okay. Let them think you just sit and eat Combos while the Doobie Brother does the heavy lifting.

Need more Cross/McD? Here’s a clip from ’98, notable because McD is playing keyboards and looks like he came from the same Dunkin’ Donuts that Cross just left. Also, Cross still can’t hit the notes. He gets points for consistency, though.

Despite all this ribbing, “Ride Like The Wind” has endured as a classic, and not just to us mellow-lovin’ dorks enthusiasts. The kids seem to like “Ride Like The Wind” as well. Do a search on iTunes, and you’ll find countless remixes and remakes - even entire EPs - devoted to “Ride Like The Wind.” Here are two for your listening pleasure:

Ride Like The Wind (remix) (download) I don’t know anything about this one except that Jeff gave it to me. I think he has an entire album of Christopher Cross and Stephen Bishop dance mixes.

Ride Like The Wind (Layman Mix) (download) – this one comes from the excellent Born Again ’80s, which you should check out if, you know, you like ’80s songs. And remixes.

Well, I think I’ve made enough fat jokes for one week, don’t you? Ride like the wind, mellow miners, and we’ll see you next time on Adventures Through The Mines Of Mellow Gold!