Why I Am A Fan of Gordon Lightfoot, and Other Playlist Revelations

Based on the available evidence, it seems that I like to blog about once a year. I cannot claim greater frequency. After all, it was around this time in 2008 that I last posted something, so if that theory is correct, it is now time to dust off the old Deep Forest Outpost and kick around a few thoughts.

The sad truth, though, is that I have a growing collection of unfinished posts that either outlived their usefulness/timeliness, or in which I lost interest because they were not that interesting to begin with. It surprises me that I do not blog more often, because I am always fascinated by my own observations and I never fail to laugh at my own jokes. I am an ideal audience for myself.

Wahahahahaha! Your jokes are so funny!

I hope this post manages to make it all the way to the internet this time, because I do want to get back to a more regular blog schedule. I spent some time earlier this year writing most of a sizable recap of our family vacation to Walt Disney World, but that took place about nine months ago, and so the statute-of-limitations has probably run out. More recently I have been working on an extensive chronicle of my recent trip to Africa as a representative of ZAGG. While I still plan on posting that soon, in multiple parts, I wanted to get something into the digital ether before it really did go past a year between postings for me.

So I decided to repeat an idea I used about a year and a half ago, and post one of my current music playlists with some notes about each of the songs. I hope to get to the end of this before any of my standard distractions (watching television, working on my book, surfing the internet, gaming, etc.) break in. I do hope it is interesting to someone besides me; but believe me, I already love it.

Just a few technical notes before I get to the songs. My device of choice is an Apple iPhone 3G. I mentioned a year and a half ago that one of my favorite features of the latest mp3 players is the ability to create your own playlists, and that has not changed. I named this playlist “Gonzo List V.1” (I am an idiot about naming things) which I intended to mean there were no boundaries when selecting songs. If I wanted to put something from AC/DC with Mozart with “When You Wish Upon A Star,” I would do it, and never mind the conventions. As it turns out, everything I picked falls more or less under the “Adult Contemporary” genre. Not quite in the spirit of Hunter S. Thompson, in other words.

The songs, in random order courtesy of the iPhone shuffle feature:

What’s Going On – Marvin Gaye I like having this as the first song because I think it has some cultural currency and because the last time I posted a list like this it started with Britney Spears. The tragic story of Marvin Gaye is well known: his 19 top ten singles in the United States, his creative clashes with Berry Gordy of Motown and the groundbreaking success that came from it, his tragic battle with drugs and his more tragic ending at the hands of his father. He was unafraid to use his music as social commentary, performed the second coolest version of “The Star-Spangled Banner” since the War of 1812, and is remembered as a pioneer of music and an icon to performers and audiences around the world.

With that in mind, I am touched by the pleas for harmony and erasing violence in this song, but I always think the deeper meanings are out of reach for me because (a) I do not have personal experiences of the 1960s and (b) I am not black. Is it acceptable for a white guy in conservative Utah to hear Marvin singing “brother, brother,” and think maybe, in the world as it is in 2009, I can feel a connection to the message? Probably not, but again, this song is much too cool for me.

On a final note, I enjoy that such a meaningful song begins with what sounds like friends greeting each other at some sort of event. This, as much as anything, convinces me that the real message of the song is escaping me somehow. I always listen for one of the voices to say “Ssssolid!” just before the saxophone starts in.

I Can’t Get Enough Of Your Love – Barry White True story: Barry White, deep-voiced recording star, five-time Grammy Award winner, and one of the smoothest men to ever grace the earth, grew up in the tough streets of South Central LA and served four months of prison when he was 17 years old for stealing car parts. While in prison, Barry heard the Elvis Presley song “It’s Now or Never,” had an epiphany, and upon his release left the criminal life behind and began a career as a recording artist.

Are there any ladies in the audience tonight?

There are many questions left unanswered in this remarkable story and by the untimely passing of Barry White. Was it the message of the song or Elvis himself that encouraged the change? If it was Elvis, did The King inspire the young felon, or did Barry just think he could do better? Also, did Barry bring any of his gang friends with him to the Love Unlimited Orchestra?. However, what is clear about the man once un-affectionately called “The Walrus of Love” is that he never, ever tired of singing about making love to the ladies. A sampling of some of his other popular titles: “I’m Gonna Love You Just a Little More Baby,” “What Am I Gonna Do with You,” and “It’s Ecstasy When You Lay Down Next to Me.” The titular song here is Barry’s finest, and an ideal selection for anyone’s *ahem* amorous, boudoir playlist.

Tequila Sunrise – The Eagles This song is one of my favorites for singing while alone in the car or with an unlucky passenger, most often Amy/The Wandering Moose. I am convinced, hearing myself, that I could be the lead singer for an Eagles cover band (name suggestions: “The Desperados,” “Lyin’ Eyes,” “Takin’ It Easy”), as my voice blends just right with Glenn Frey’s smooth vocals.

The multi-function of the iPhone ruined that dream for me a few weeks ago, however. As I was driving home, singing, a text message came in, which causes the volume to drop to almost nothing for about a second. What I heard from myself in that brief moment was both jarring and sobering. I was aware that I do not have a good singing voice — the dream being just that — but I did not think it was Carl-Lewis-Singing-The-National-Anthem bad. I was very, very wrong. My sincere apologies to anyone who has been subjected to my singing in the past. You did not deserve that.

The Human Touch – Rick Springfield This is an underrated song from an underrated pop-rock performer of the 1980s; and yes, I am referring to THAT Rick Springfield. Rick is more well known for his acting, in particular the long-running role of Dr. Noah Drake on General Hospital, but he is a Grammy Award winning singer with a number of hits under his belt, including “Jessie’s Girl” and “Love Somebody.”

Rick Springfield: not legally allowed to write prescriptions

The problem with this song, and perhaps the reason why it was never as popular as “Jessie’s Girl,” is that it goes into an extended instrumental riff about three and a half minutes in that carries over for the remaining four-odd minutes. There are two reasons why artists do this. Either (a) the awesomeness and fun of a great band jamming together, or (b) the song was written for a movie soundtrack, and the director needed some extended music for a scene. Considering that Rick’s band was probably a collection of good-but-anonymous session musicians, the movie theory would seem to be correct. However, it does not belong to any soundtrack that I can find, so perhaps it was written for one, but never used. Barring that, maybe the answer is (c) Rick could not figure out how to end the song, so he just kept playing until it sort of worked itself out. Which is too bad, because a four minute radio edit of this song might have given Rick another hit.

Lazy Eye – Silversun Pickups I first heard this song on Guitar Hero World Tour and ended up buying it on iTunes because I enjoyed it so much. I have since listened to three or four other songs by the Silversun Pickups and I have to say: I am a little disappointed. But I do like “Lazy Eye,” which is a great song, even if it is a one-hit wonder in the making.

Lyrics have a big impact for me with many songs, and so I am always trying to figure out what is being sung and what it means. When I first heard the portion of this song where lead singer Brian Aubert jumps into dramatic and almost shouting lines (about 2:45), I thought the first words were “lost and lonely,” which gave that section a heavy, heartbroken feeling that I quite liked. Then I came to discover that he really sings “locked and loaded,” a very different sentiment, and it changed my opinion of the song a bit. I still like it, of course, but not with the same interest.

My favorite story about this song is from when I was driving down Logan Canyon with my brother-in-law and his sons/my nephews, and we were listening to this playlist on my iPhone. By way of explanation, the guys in the car with me come from a family environment where rock music is a luxury (one in which they choose not to indulge), but because the women were riding together in another car, we decided to rock out. We spent a lot of time talking and laughing about how some of the male singers on my list “sang like girls” with their high ranges and sweeping falsettos. When this song came on and I revealed that the singer was a man, the lid came off and we laughed for a good five solid minutes.

Maybe you had to be there, but it was awesome.

Let Me Take You Home Tonight – Boston This song was written around the same time Marvin Gaye was pleading for greater togetherness as detailed above, but released about five years later. In contrast, Brad Delp’s amazing, soaring vocals are pleading with a woman who he may have been stalking to come home with him. Not exactly aiming high, but it suited the rock and roll lifestyle. Besides, not every song needs to have a social conscience (or a conscience of any kind), I suppose.

“Let Me Take You Home Tonight” has some great retro lyrics, including Delp trying to sweet-talk his love interest by calling her “Mamma.” As near as I can tell, this was sophisticated seduction language in the 1970s. I recently tried to initiate a comeback of that particular term of endearment with Amy/T.W. Moose by calling her “Mamma,” and let’s just say it went over like a lead zeppelin, as Keith Moon once said. A bit creepy for her taste. Which brings us to…

Houses Of The Holy – Led Zeppelin The good news about Led Zeppelin is that millions of people including critics, other musicians, teenagers of all generations, and stoners the world over, would rank them somewhere in the top 3 best rock groups of all time. On my personal list, they are number one. The bad news is that Zeppelin was well aware of this fact, and so they had no qualms about trying pretentious crap like naming one of their best albums a bunch of odd, quasi-mystical symbols (the so-called “Led Zeppelin 4,” or “Led Zeppelin Signs and Runes”). As a high school student discovering Zeppelin for the first time, I should have rolled my eyes at such windbaggery, but instead I doodled the symbols on nearly every available writing surface during class. Led Zeppelin was a major part of my high school soundtrack.

This song, one of their best simple rock recordings, features another Led Zeppelin staple: weird, incomprehensible lyrics. Consider the first four phrases of “Houses Of The Holy” (and these are by no means the strangest lyrics in this song):

“Let me take you to the movies.
Can I take you to the show?
Let me be yours every truly.
Can I make your garden grow?”

Huh? Like most Zeppelin fans, I happily gloss over the fact that Robert Plant’s lyrics often make no sense at all, and instead substitute vague symbolic-sounding language for an actual message. Bob Dylan fans do the same thing, by the way. If someone like John Mayer put those exact same words in a song he would be called out by the critics and listeners alike. But Zeppelin? It must have deeper meanings, man.

Candyman – Christina Aguilera This song fills the void of Big Band Sound with Ridiculous, Filthy Lyrics left when the Cherry Poppin’ Daddies faded back into appropriate obscurity in the late 1990s. I am not a particular fan of swing era/big band music, so I cannot say this for sure, but I doubt Duke Ellington or Tommy Dorsey ever wrote songs with any combination of the words “tattoos,” “paparazzi,” and “panties.” Just my personal observation. I also tend to skip this song unless I am in a whimsical mood.

Stop – Spice Girls This is my favorite Spice Girls song at the moment, which is not saying much in 2009, but in 1997 it would have been significant for me. Like many others around the world, I had a modest infatuation with the Spice Girls during their heyday. Also like those many others, I only admit as much when absolutely necessary these days.

In case you didn't know, we're British

My two favorite Spice Girls (and, like The Beatles before them, everyone had a favorite) were Posh/Victoria, who went on to become a skeletal fashion icon and marry the world’s most famous soccer player, and Scary/Mel B., who went on to become the best celebrity contestant in the history of Dancing With the Stars. Mel B’s Paso Doble with Maksim Chmerkovskiy during the 2007 semi-finals was the single best performance on that show, ever. Race car driver Helio Castroneves could not have robbed her more blatantly if he had used a gun… or so I have been told. Not that I have ever watched a full season of Dancing With The Stars. I am a guy, after all. Moving on.

Wheel in the Sky – Journey I recently expressed an opinion to my brother that this was the quintessential Journey song, tying their rock past together with their run of success in the 1980s. This song is from the 1978 album Infinity, which is Journey’s fourth, and their first with lead singer Steve Perry, whose powerful, distinctive tenor voice is a mainstay of the band’s most distinctive sound. “Wheel in the Sky” was also written and popular before Journey brought pianist Jonathan Cain on board and they went in an even more pop direction.

The real star of this song is ace guitarist Neal Schon, who is ranked number one on my list of Awesome Rock Guitarists That Nobody Talks About. Among his many other credentials, Neal joined Santana as a guitarist prodigy at the age of 15, having turned down an offer to play with Eric Clapton in Derek and the Dominos (Carlos Santana called first). He dropped out of high school in 1969 and has been rocking ever since. This song makes me feel bad for Neal in a way, as the Journey that would emerge in the 1980s would be memorable for the keyboards and the voice of Steve Perry. Even though the guitar is a component in their popular songs (“Don’t Stop Believin’,” “Open Arms,” “Separate Ways”), Neal and his sound are often an afterthought. For a guy with the chops to have a career like Carlos Santana or Eric Clapton, I always wonder if he did not reach his full potential. That is not to say that the music industry does not appreciate Neal Schon; he has collaborated on an impressive list of outside projects, among other things. But as the third banana in Journey, I do not think he ever got the popular attention he deserves.

I’ll Be Over You – Toto Switching gears with this song (or at least it feels like switching gears, even if the broad “Adult Contemporary” genre still fits here and has with almost every song so far), Toto was a very popular band throughout the 1980s and wrote a number of mellow hits like this one, “Rosanna,” and “Africa.” In fact, and this may surprise some people, Toto only broke up in June 2008, having just finished what would be their final tour.

Featuring background vocals by easy listening superman Michael McDonald (more on him later), “I’ll Be Over You” is an ode to a love interest who broke up with the writer(s) of the song. The breakup is so painful that singer Steve Luthaker threatens he will only be able to get over her “as soon as forever is through.” It comes across as a little pathetic, if I am being honest. He is not looking to get back together with her, though, he just wants her to know that his heart is broken, and he still dreams about holding her in his arms. In fairness, I am a pathetic sentimentalist myself, so I understand where he is coming from.

Look at the sword! This music must be terrifying!

When raising her three boys, my mom decided to use the word “toto” as a kid-friendly substitute word for going Number Two (as in: “Do you need to go toto?”). Heaven knows why, but it sounded nicer to her than the alternatives. A few years later I remember being in a local department store with my mom and brothers, and coming across the album Toto IV. I was only about six years old, and I had just discovered a band with an outrageous name (not being aware that “toto” to replace “poop” was a family oddity), and an album cover that featured rings and a sword. I put it back where I had found it, and hoped my mom had not seen me looking at such things. My impression for the next several years was that Toto was a crazy heavy metal band; after all, who else but an anti-social metal band would have the temerity to name themselves after a bodily function? My eyes were opened in my teenage years, but I still snicker sometimes when I see the name.

Your Love – The Outfield Continuing the strong 1980s theme I have brewing, this song sounds like it should be playing during a movie scene where the popular jock picks on Anthony Michael Hall while Molly Ringwald scowls and hates her life. I do not know how many movies filmed in the 1980s actually used this song in their soundtrack, but I know it is a popular choice for current movies set in the 1980s. In other words, The Outfield managed to write a song that had a prototypical ’80s sound, only it was not commonly used to represent that decade until years later, so what they actually did was make a retro ’80s song — in the ’80s.

I used to think this was a song about unrequited or unfulfilled love, based on the most recognizable line: “I don’t wanna lose your love tonight.” However, a few weeks ago I paid closer listen to the lyrics and found that it is instead about a guy having an affair while his girlfriend is away. That is a big difference I never noticed before because I had never paid the song that much attention. But when Amy/T.W. Moose bought it not long ago, I put it on this playlist because I liked the sound. The rest was a somewhat disillusioning process of discovery.

Out Of Touch – Hall & Oates It is easy to forget this now, but at one time Hall and Oates were one of the most popular bands in the world. A few survivors from that era have become legendary and reputable today, but Hall and Oates are considered dated and lumped in with what we now find amusing about the 1980s. These guys were big enough that they made the cut for the iconic “We Are The World” record (although only Daryl Hall was allowed to sing). For a group with six number one songs on the Billboard 100 and twenty-six (26!) others that charted in the top 50, this is a musical tragedy.

The problem very well could be John Oates mustache, which was spectacular when they were popular and he has since shaved, but could be the most memorable thing, style-wise, from their salad days. True story: I just asked a friend what he remembers most about Hall and Oates, and the first thing he said was: “Well, there was that one guy with the mustache.” Is it more sad or more amusing that a single line of thick, black whiskers could be what kept a great band from perpetual respect and consideration? Answer: more amusing. Still, it is about time for a Hall and Oates renaissance.

What a Fool Believes – The Doobie Brothers A great rock band during the early 1970s, the Doobies transitioned to a more soft rock sound once they brought lead singer Michael McDonald on board in 1976. I am a fan of the blue-eyed, white-haired, big-bearded sound of Michael, but he represented a significant change to the direction and structure of the band, and they were no longer the laid back rockers that had a strong following among local chapters of the Hell’s Angels.

In the spirit of full disclosure, this song came to be in my collection because of the time I spent laughing my head off at the seminal Channel 101 internet video series “Yacht Rock.” It is the central song behind the first video in the series, which hooked me on both Yacht Rock and the music of Michael McDonald. I recommend the videos with a caveat for strong language and frequent profanity. That does not bother me, but I worked around construction workers for eight years, so I am desensitized.

Rarely brings the guitar when he is on missile business

In a final, surprising note, the opening paragraph of the Wikipedia profile for former Doobie Brothers guitarist Jeff “Skunk” Baxter reads as follows: “Jeff “Skunk” Baxter is an American guitarist best known for his stints in the rock bands Steely Dan and The Doobie Brothers during the 1970s. More recently, he has been working as a defense consultant and chairs a Congressional Advisory Board on missile defense.” Is there anything less likely than a rock guitarist named Skunk becoming the chair of a Congressional Board advising lawmakers about missile defense? That sounds like a subplot from a crappy comic book.

Fireflies – Owl City This song is my token nod to the current pop charts, as well as a brief respite from the 1980s. This has a different sound that I like, although it is heavy with synthesizers, so that is probably not much of a surprise. I do not have much else to write about this band or song. Sorry Owl City — come see me when your lead guitarist becomes the country’s leading expert on missile defense.

Suite: Judy Blue Eyes – Crosby, Stills & Nash Some of my earliest memories about music feature songs from Crosby, Stills & Nash, including this one. My parents raised me right, in other words. This song was released in 1969, and was performed by CSN at Woodstock, meaning it has been gracing radio airwaves for 40 years now. While this is not always my favorite song by either CSN or CSNY (it is at the moment, but that changes), I think it is probably their best song. I would listen to counter arguments, however.

That’s What You Get – Paramore Another recent song and another band that I gained an appreciation for due to Guitar Hero World Tour. Well, that is not completely correct, as it was Amy/T.W. Moose who gained an appreciation for Paramore thanks to Guitar Hero World Tour, and before that, the Twilight soundtrack. I got it from her.

Emo bands are on their way to make you sad

The music of Paramore has been described as “emo,” and I have to assume it almost certainly is (I am far too old to judge whether or not something is emo). I found my own reaction to that bit of news alarming, as my first instinct was to shy away from the emo label and not wish to be associated with it. In fact, I even feel a bit strange writing the word “emo,” as it is something that belongs to a younger generation, like I am forbidden to understand it. This must be how my dad felt watching the advancement of rap and hip-hop, or his father’s generation watching the revolution of rock and roll. Is it a rule written somewhere that each new cultural movement has to make the previous generation uncomfortable? When did I start to get old?

Well, those deep and unsettling questions aside, I actually like Paramore and their music, even if none of the kids in the band were in kindergarten before I graduated high school. Never mind, this song is depressing me now, I need to move on.

What About Love? – Heart This song was a crossroads for the rock group Heart. It was the first single from their big comeback in 1985, and it marked a distinct change in direction from their hard rock history. This song was also written and recorded by a Canadian group named Toronto several years earlier (bands used to love naming themselves after cities, but that trend seems to have sadly faded), but was never released. They sold the rights to Heart, who turned it into an international success.

I am not certain if “What About Love?” has ever been attempted on a singing competition show like American Idol, although other Ann Wilson vocals have been generally butchered by wobbly, spike heeled, would-be pop starlets. The only time I can remember enjoying a cover of a Heart song while watching AI was when Carrie Underwood belted out “Alone” in the show’s fourth season, and some of that had to do with the fact that Carrie is a cute as a button and had really big hair for the performance. Competitors should be wary of attempting to cover Ann’s exceptional, powerful singing the same way the judges try to steer them clear of Whitney Houston or Celine Dion.

I’m Not Saying – Gordon Lightfoot I am unable to find an estimate of how many women Gordon Lightfoot slept with during the height of his powers in the 1970s. It makes sense that a gentleman such as Gordon would be discreet in his dalliances, but the simple fact that this song exists proves that the number was large. Impressively large.

The first half of this song is a detailed list of all the things one of Gordon’s lady friends can expect from their intimate relationship, including:

  • I’m not saying that I’ll love you
  • I’m not saying that I’ll care if you love me
  • I’m not saying I’ll be there when you need me
  • I can’t give my heart to you
  • I can’t lay the promise down that I’ll always be around when you need me
  • I may not be alone each time you see me
  • I won’t deny you or mistreat you… if you let me have my way
  • I’m not saying I’ll be sorry for all the things that I might say that make you cry
  • I can’t say I’ll always do the things you want me to
  • I’m not saying I’ll be true… but I’ll try

Nothing like lowered expectations from the very beginning, right? My favorite part of this song might be where he throws in the token “… but I’ll try,” as if that is going to make up for the previous minute-and-a-half of disappointing promises. I know times were different in the 1970s with the booming drug culture and the promiscuity spawned by the free love era, but can you imagine any self-respecting woman hearing those terms, shrugging her shoulders, and saying “okay”? But, it almost certainly had to be so. With his beardy good looks, his rich baritone voice, and his smooth guitar playing, Gordon Lightfoot was the embodiment of a ’70s sexual icon. More to the point, Gordon had so many willing partners that he had to write a song just so they could all understood the ground rules of their affairs. True, this is just my theory, but it has the scent of truth.

I am what they call the "total package."

In an twist of irony, Amy/T.W. Moose’s father, my dad-in-law, happens to be Gordon Lightfoot. This is another theory, of course, but consider the evidence: Aside from the obvious physical similarities (both men are head-turning handsome, even now into their 70s), they are both from Canada (Dad became an American citizen not long ago), they both sing and play the guitar, they were born the same year, they both specialize in flirting (here I am making an educated guess about Gordon), and most importantly – nobody has ever seen Dad and Gordon Lightfoot in the same room at the same time. A little eerie, and pretty convincing, if I say so myself. I am a fan of Gordon Lightfoot.

I Will…But – SHeDAISY I am excited to have this song follow “I’m Not Saying,” because it is very similar in nature. This also lays down some guidelines for any would-be paramour of the ladies of SHeDAISY, albeit in a somewhat different spirit from the free wheeling Gordon Lightfoot.

The verses of “I Will… But” describe in detail what not to expect from any of The Osborn Sisters (the band’s original name), and the chorus makes vague promises about what the exceedingly patient love interest will get in return.
Again, the spirit is not quite the same, but the message is clear. A sampling of the verses:

  • I will not be bored
  • I will not be ignored
  • I won’t be your cure-all pill
  • I won’t run to fetch the water
  • I won’t be your Martha Stewart
  • I won’t be your crutch to lean on
  • I won’t walk a mile in your shoes just so I know how it feels
  • I won’t be the portrait of perfection to adorn your wall
  • I won’t be your mamma’s favorite
  • I refuse to be the last in line

Then, the chorus:

  • But I will be your everything if you make me feel like a woman should. I will be the whole shebang.

In other words, she will be everything to you, her love interest, provided she doesn’t have to cook, clean, spend a single moment un-entertained, try to understand your feelings, be there to support you, get along with your mom, wait her turn in line, or let you do anything besides pay attention to her. So what exactly are you getting out of this relationship, besides vague promises?

In fairness, the message of “I Will… But” is about a woman wanting to be treated right, and I always support that sentiment. There are other, more reasonable demands in the verses, too; I was fudging the context just a bit. But I have to say the demands grossly outweigh the promises in this song.

Say – John Mayer I discovered a recent backlash against John Mayer while discussing music with some friends at work. In the course of the conversation the subject of John and his music came up, and these friends (both men) offered a variation of the same opinion: I like his music, but I don’t like him. I was surprised. When I pressed them on what they don’t like about him, their answers were vague: He’s a jerk.

Dating beautiful women? As a guy, I cannot stand for such things!

It almost goes without saying that both friends are married, because it sounded to me like they were repeating something their wives had said. That was my impression not so much because of their opinions, to which they are welcome, but because their thoughts were unorganized and uncertain. It was like they had heard their wives did not like John Mayer, but had not heard the reason why.

So I did a little internet research and think I discovered why many of his female fans have started to turn against John Mayer: he is tearing through celebrity girlfriends like Barry White through a box of Krispy Kremes (or like Barry White would have, may he rest in peace). Maybe there is more to it, but that is what I could discover in my extensive two minutes of research.

I wanted to take that information back to my friends and put the screws to them: Really? He’s a jerk? Because he sleeps around with Hollywood actresses? Since when has that ever bothered a guy? But, it was late and about time to go home. Besides, I still like John Mayer and his music, and that’s all that really counts.

Ring My Bell – Anita Ward This song — the last one on the list — is a classic of the disco era with a solid beat and airy, engaging vocals. It turns up quite often in soundtracks, either as the original recording or as one of many covers. Anita Ward obtained a degree in psychology from Rust College (go Bearcats) prior to launching her disco career, which must have made for a few awkward conversations with her parents. The disco train came to a shuddering halt not long after this song was released, along with Anita’s career. She still performs “Ring My Bell” for the right audience and the right price, most recently in 2006 in Zagreb, Croatia, prior to a skiing tournament. I did not make that up.

I include this on many of my playlists because it is the only song I know that references household chores and innuendo in the same sentence. Here is the first verse:

“I’m glad you’re home, now did you really miss me?
I guess you did by the look in your eyes.
Well lay back and relax while I put away the dishes,
then you and me can rock a bell.”

It may be that “put away the dishes” means something different from what I understand, or conversely, that “rock a bell” could be something totally innocent. Given the era and the context of the rest of the song, though, I think that is highly unlikely. Which begs the question: couldn’t the songwriter come up with anything that sounded more alluring than “lay back and relax while I put away the dishes?”

3 thoughts on “Why I Am A Fan of Gordon Lightfoot, and Other Playlist Revelations

  1. Brandy

    Oh my gosh, an actual update. I am so proud! But I have to say.. Wheel in the Sky, not my favorite Journey song, in fact I normal skip over this song on my way to their several other hits, but that’s only my opinion. Other then that, awesome collection!

  2. Thanks, Brandy! I wouldn’t say that Wheel in the Sky is my favorite Journey song, although it has been at times in the past. It does tie together their hard rock roots with the pop band they became, though.

    Thanks for the comment!

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