Like an Incurable - (Now with 30% Less Words!)
(Original publish October 6, 2008)
My friend got a song stuck in her head and was seeking a cure.
It was the type of song where, if you were at a party and somebody played it, every single person in the room would know it. Probably many of them would sing it, depending on states of drunkenness. Young, old….every-freaking-body.
To exorcise the Song Stuck in the Head demon, my friend decided she must hear the song in question. You know the drill: Just listen to it, and after that, you’ll be fine!
The song was Reminiscing.
....Reminiscing...catchy like the flu and no preventive vaccine on the market. If somebody plays that song, anywhere, at any time, you are Completely. Screwed.
My friend's boyfriend located the appropriate Little River Band collection, and popped on Reminiscing.
You know what happened next, right?
Immediately upon hearing it, I had it stuck in MY head.
I think you should know it’s a much worse condition for us obsessive people than it is for you normal people, to get a song stuck in your head. At least when YOU get a song stuck in your head, you are treatable. It takes me weeks to rid myself.
I am fully aware that I'm a mutant. I spent 14 years working in Top 40 radio. I had to smile through a lot of songs I was sick of, all of which I heard 17 times a day. Listeners never got sick of them because they only heard them maybe once a day, or, it didn’t matter to them because to them, listening to music should be…easy.
My friend’s LRB cure was followed by an hour of ticking through and playing some "great old songs", which were all in what I would call the Adult Contemporary format. They all agreed those songs were just "the BEST" and they wish people made music like that now.
On the very next morning, I caught my friend sitting through an infomercial for an Adult Contemporary song collection offered by Time/Life.
It's not that I thought the songs didn’t have value, or the artists didn’t have appeal. It's that when you say "Music, 1978" to me, I think about The Police, not the Little River Band. Or maybe not The Police…maybe…just…any of a number of other musicians making noises at the time that might have worried peoples parents…a little.
The thing about huge hit songs is this: They ARE easy. Just like it is easy to love a star quarterback, with all the hunky athleticism, it is easy to love a huge hit song. It takes very little effort on the part of the listener. It's everywhere and all your friends are doing it.
One could say that it takes a good amount of skill for a song-writer, to be able to come up with a big hit song like that. That may be true, or, it may be entirely a Luck + Timing + Work thing. In 1978 and for several years after, we were in the mood for what LRB was serving up, so they served it.
Luck + Timing + Work = Easy!
Most of us didn't get into a Police mood until we were into the 80s. By then, the Police had finished much of their snarling (except at each other) and were all driving nice cars and such.
While the band had little to prove by the time Synchronicity came out, Outlandos d'Amour screamed "We've got nothing to lose by trying," which I find so much more appealing on a personal level. The band didn't have any money or a record contract at that time, so they made the particular brand of art that one makes while nobody is watching.
You know…the BEST kind.
I never went for the quarterback. Try to act surprised.
I think life would be easier if I only listened to big radio hits. I wouldn't feel as if I have to explain every band, every musician and every song--there would be no effort involved with me enjoying music. I could just drink the fucking Kool-Aid.
But I'm the one, where, when I start the car and the music is on, people say things like, "What the hell are you listening to?"
I don’t call it music snobbery. Mostly, it’s just rooting for the underdog. You maybe haven’t heard that thing before, but, it’s as good (usually better) than the thing you heard, just not as many people have heard it. Welcome to our exclusive club! I think we can all get along.
Just don’t play Reminiscing. I'm still in recovery.
Nothing to do with anything, but, let's peel off a rapid list the Best Damned Police Songs, as determined by me, a non-expert if ever there was one.
No particular order, and, as always, feel free to chime in…
Can't Stand Losing You: "...and your brother's gonna kill me and he's six feet ten." Huh...he writes about the potential for having the shit kicked out of him on a few occasions in my immediate memory. I don't know why I find that so charming.
Next To You: Loud. Fast.
So Lonely: Somewhere around an eleven.
Does Everyone Stare: I like the construction of this and the fact that it is a pre-"Every Breath You Take" stalkery song. I also don't know why that is so charming. I don't think people are used to singers talking about themselves as nervous wrecks that stare at girls from a distance, but I've met that character a couple of dozen times in real life.
Man In A Suitcase
Canary In A Coal Mine: Pop. Pop. Pop
On Any Other Day: He's right--some of the other ones *were* complete bullshit.
Hungry For You: Don't speak French? Not important.
Secret Journey: BEST drum part on any Police song. I'm standing by that. Go listen to it right now--absolutely fucking glorious.
Miss Gradenko: Things work together beautifully but are so separate that they could all be playing completely different songs. Best song on Synchronicity. Standing by that, too.
Synchronicity I: NOT II, I. Still makes me drive my car too fast, to this day.