Thursday, July 5, 2012

What July 5th Means To Me: Memorable 80'/90's Lyrics

I was driving home from a 4th of July party last night, and flipping through the radio stations until I eventually settled on one playing Chicago's "Hard To Say I'm Sorry."  I don't particularly like this song, sure I think Chicago is fine, but if picking tunes from their catalogue, this wouldn't be in my top five choices.  HOWEVER, about twelve years ago, my buddy Tony worked at a job for a couple of months where his boss was this fat Italian named Joe Sari (pronounced "sorry.") One night, while Tony and I were driving, the aforementioned Chicago song came on the radio, and when the lyric "Hold me know, it's hard for me to say "I'm sorry," was sung, we both simultaneously said "Joe Sari" instead of "I'm sorry."  We didn't sing it.  We just said it.  Since that day, I've replaced "I'm sorry" with a deadpanned "Joe Sari" every single time I've heard the song.  Every single time. And I never turn off the song because I just want to say Joe Sari.  And, of course, I love the lyric "Hold me now.It's hard for me to say I'm sorry. I just want you to know.Hold me now. I really want to tell you I'm sorry.I could never let you go," cause then I can say Joe Sari twice in a short period of time.  After that, I generally switch the channel.

Anyway, it got me thinking about some other songs I continue to listen to in order to hear just one lyric...and here are my top 5!

5) Africa By Toto --- Lyric:  "The wild dogs cry out in the night, as they grow restless longing for some solitary company. I know that I must do what's right, as sure as Kilimanjaro rises like Olympus above the Serengeti.

Congratulations, Toto!  You've written the oddest analogy of all time.  I suppose you can always count on Mt. Kilimanjaro overlooking the Serengeti river, but what a weird way of explaining your certainty.  And why compare Kilimanjaro to Olympus, which is just another mountain that I believe is actually smaller than Kilimanjaro?  Wouldn't it make more sense to say something like "rises like a Phoenix?" Which might work thematically within the context of the song anyway?   Also, what in the hell is "solitary company?"  Are they trying to be poetic here, or did they not realize they just wrote an oxymoron?  Maybe wild dogs play by their own rules, but I think Toto has some explaining to do. 

4) "Glory Of Love," By Peter Cetera --- Lyric: "Like a knight in shining armor...from a long time ago." 

If you don't know this song from the title, it's the featured tune in Karate Kid Part 2. You know, the movie where Mr. Miyagi takes Daniel to Okinawa and almost gets him killed by the hands of his rival's nephew. And seems oddly OK with it.  Anyway...  "Glory Of Love" is the kind of song that just inspires a sing-a-long, which is usually followed by a laugh.  A song definitely lost to time.  But I'll guarantee you there were multiple songwriters scratching their heads over the lyric above.  It comes at a key moment in the song...the rise before the fall, it's supposed to be a powerful lyric, and I'm sure they would have loved something a bit more specific than "from a long time ago."  Then again, "Like a knight in shining armor...from medieval England!" doesn't quite have the same ring to it.  I just bet they spent a good few hours tossing around ideas before Cetera said, "fuck it, I have dinner plans in 20 minutes, lets just say "from a long time ago," and if a snarky blogger wants to tease us about it in 30 years, I'll tell him to go check my bank account."   

Speaking of lazy lyrics...

3) "Arthur's Theme," By Christopher Cross -- Lyric: "Living his life one day at a time, He's showing himself a really good time"

Carole Bayer Sager. Peter Allen. Burt Bacharach. Christopher Cross.  Between the four of them, there are multiple Grammys, and they even won the Academy Award for best original song for the one above.  Yet between those FOUR accomplished songwriters, none could figure out how to avoid rhyming "time" with "time?"  Really?  This isn't something that they just forgot about, and it can't be a stylistic choice because it stands out as odd. And "time" is kind of an easy word to rhyme.  See, I just did it without trying. I know this one bothers my buddy Phil too, and we'd both LOVE to hear the story behind this lyric.  I'd watch an entire documentary about the decision.  Maybe that can win an Academy Award too.

2) "Walking In Memphis," By Marc Cohn -- Lyric:  "She said, 'tell me are you a Christian child?' and I said, 'MA'AM, I AM TONIGHT!"

A karaoke favorite of mine.  I'll gladly sit through an Alice's Restaurant-esque, 25 minute version of this song as long as I get to hear that lyric.  I've probably almost had numerous car accidents because I've belted the lyric so hard while driving.  You can't just mutter it, after all.  When a singer talks about "bringing it home," he's talking about that lyric.  Plus, didn't Marc Cohn get shot in the head, and then was back on tour within a few months?  You bet.   I'm certainly a Christian child when discussing Marc Cohn.

1) "The Living Years," By Mike And The Mechanics -- Lyric: "I think I caught his spirit, Later that same year, I'm sure I heard his echo, In my baby's new born tears."

Oh yeah.  You bet.  And this is how this went down:  Mike and The Mechanics were recording this song, and when the lyric was uttered for the first time, the music stopped. Dramatically. There was silence. Because that's all there could be. They all made eye contact with each other and nodded.  Solemnly.  Then they all shook hands.  The kind where you shake with the right, and cover the hands with the left.  You know, a real handshake.  Then they just left the studio because it was just too much to handle.  And the lead singer stood outside the building, leaning against the wall, looking reverently off into the sky.  He took a drag off his cigarette, slowly blew out the smoke and whispered, "nailed it." 

One time the song played while my buddy Ahmet and I were at work, and I told him, "This song makes me want to kill my father, just so I can experience that line."  He responded, "Can you imagine that conversation?  "Yes, Son, I want you to feel what Mike and the boys were talking about.  Take my life."

And with that .... Have a good Thursday, all.

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