I’ll remember you this way

5/23/05

It’s Memorial Day this weekend, and like 2002, we decided to have our 4th Annual Jartacular – which means opening up the lawn darts, several expensive bottles of single-malt scotch, holding a quiz show and, of course, attempting the Barn Talent Show.

The talent show is always the weakest link (which is embarrassing to my Mormon forebears, I’m sure) but not this time. I decided to actually learn a few more tunes before this one, instead of falling back on “Brandy (You’re a Fine Girl),” as has happened the last three years.

Scott Bullock had the idea of doing “Mr. Blue Sky” by ELO last year, and we finally have the cajones to pull it off. For those of you without big brothers in the mid-70s, “Mr. Blue Sky” came back to the pop unconscious through this unbelievably brilliant Volkswagen ad, and it is devilishly difficult.

It’s all basically in F major with a D-minor chorus, but the vocals are stunning, including a “vocoder break” and a Baroque ending. If we don’t embarrass ourselves, I’ll consider the Jartacular a success.

Not content to stop there, I thought I’d try and restructure another enchanting pop classic we used to hear while trying to roller skate. I’ve ranted about Afternoon Delight in the past, but before you snickering nabobs tell me I’m a twee gaybot, I dare you to download the song from iTunes and try to sing along. Every single verse has a different vocal line, occasionally flourishing to 4-part harmonies. Sure, it’s about fucking (“the thought of rubbing you is getting me so excited”) but this was back in a day when they actually wanted to pull off something semi-interesting.

I’d like to resurrect two amazing pop songs from the past each year we do this. As always, I am your humble servant and always taking suggestions.

0 thoughts on “I’ll remember you this way

  1. Caren

    They really say “rubbing you”? C’mon. This is like finding out that Dexy’s Midnight Runners were saying, “Will you undress, take off everything,” which I didn’t realize in 6th grade. Come to think of it, sing that one.
    “Mr. Blue Sky” also got used in ads for “Adaptation” right around the same time as the VW ad. Once a song gets resurrected, everyone hops on the “band” wagon.
    In light of this lurid information, I don’t know how we can return to the issues of the day: http://www.prospect.org/web/printfriendly-view.ww?id=9754
    I want to compliment all of y’all on remembering how to have fun, stay young, and stay in touch with your friends, even after a baby is borned. I hope I am so lucky someday.

    Reply
  2. oliver

    It’s so nice to hear someone with musical training say that pop songs can be hard to sing. A bunch of songs growing up made me feel musically inadequate because I couldn’t sing them. Let’s see, from way back there’s that “Heeey….you’ve got to hide your love awaaaay” on Norwegian Wood. From later there’s Cat “Kill-Rushdie-before-he steps-on-the-Peace-Train” Stevens “Where do the children playayayaaaaa?” and the slightly less diabolical “Katmandu, I’ll soon be seeing you”…but I guess those tunes are too eternal to need resuscitation. Sorry. Let you know if an inspiration strikes me. Oh. Are you prepared to get funky? How ’bout “Jammin” from “Hotter than July”

    Reply
  3. kent

    I dunno about “Afternoon Delight” — it’s a song more pleasant to deconstruct than to listen to for me. Don’t let the structural complexity sway you — sure, they went the extra mile on the arrangement, but that’s just buffing the turd, as the LA studio rat say.
    The song’s verse is just a tonic/subdominant see-saw, and the chorus bounces to relative minor before resolving back to the tonic in the most excruciatingly obvious way imaginable. They had to jazz up the vocal arrangement to keep the singers distracted from the yawning banality. Otherwise they’d want to claw their own eyes out when the verse comes back after the bridge.
    And while the song is about sex, it’s the unsexiest song about sex evar. If you had to hear this song while actually having sex it would be the limpest, driest excuse for love-making you’ll likely experience, and it might ruin sex for you forever. It’s a song about sex that takes place in a universe without sweat, pubic hair, or facial expressions beyond a pasted-on prozac overdose smile.
    The only redeeming thing about “Afternoon Delight” for me is that I was living in Utah when it blew up on the radio, and I had the unique experience of hearing Grandma Klea humming along to it as we zoomed around the point of the mountain. Where, incidentally Gary Gilmore was awaiting execution just down the hill from the highway.
    And my theory about Gary Gilmore is that he went nuts and murdered those people because his life was completely crap, but he was surrounded by Mormons of such vacuous niceness he could look in their clear aryan eyes without a hint of mutual recognition. His final wish was that his ashes be dropped from a plane over Utah Valley, “so those people will never be rid of me.”
    That very vacuous niceness is what makes “Afternoon Delight” the soundtrack to my nightmares. There’s a special ring in hell, for passive-agressive middle managers, where all they play is “Seasons In The Sun”, “Up Up and Away” and “Afternoon Delight.” Though everyone there has an unquenchable thirst for strong, hot coffee, all they ever get is lukewarm Postum mixed with sweetened condensed milk, served by perky Mormon hostesses with big hair.

    Reply
  4. Jody

    Prince, 1978?, ‘I Wanna Be Your Lover’ (who can sing a Prince song, tho’ ?)
    The Association, ‘Cherish’
    Mason Williams, ‘The Prince’s Panties’, sings in a guy voice that’s easy to duplicate. Fun song but completely unknown. Same album as Classical Gas. Something from your cousin Mason-

    Reply
  5. Tanya

    Well, if you want to visit the same cheese factory as “Afternoon Delight,” you could go with “Still the One” by Orleans.
    Or how about a piece from “Ian’s Delightful Early 80’s Mix,” namely “Stray Cat Strut”? You would hardly even need to play the guitar for that one…so long as you have some good back up vocals.

    Reply
  6. oliver

    I didn’t click Caren’s link on first pass and then forgot about it, but it’s a worthy reminder of the end that is nigh, despite our fiddling Nero in the White House. Everybody interested in descendants should read Elizabeth Colbert’s New Yorker series. They’re all free and interconnected on line. If you only read one of the three, number 2 is the most dispiriting: http://www.newyorker.com/fact/content/?050502fa_fact3

    Reply
  7. kenny

    Some good suggestions, allow me to add:
    ‘Windy’ by the Association (even better than ‘Cherish’)
    ‘Ah Leah!’ by Donnie Iris, the Eugene Levy of late 70’s rock. Seriously, look him up.

    Reply
  8. ducky

    “rock the boat” by the hughes corporation.
    my favorite shower song from the sorority house days, when my friends and i were in adjoining shower stalls, and could sing that song in multiple parts.

    Reply
  9. Annie

    A beautiful idea just came to me reviewing these posts–
    “Reminiscing”! Is that Pure Prairie League? You all know what I’m talkin bout…
    “Friday night it was late I was walkin you home we got down to the gate and, I was dreeeamin of the night…”

    Reply
  10. Bud

    Annie:
    That’s by Little River Band, those wizards from Oz who also gave us “Lady,” another of my quaalude rock faves.
    Look around you; play a part; feel for the winter but don’t have a cold heart….

    Reply

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