Hang on to your precious lil’ mining hats, my mellow friends: today we’re going deep, deep into the mines. How deep? Deep enough that the song we’re covering never came anywhere near the Top 40, was never released as a single, and isn’t even included on most of their Greatest Hits compilations…and yet, I say without any sense of exaggeration that it really doesn’t get any mellower – and somehow, lazier – than this.
England Dan and John Ford Coley – Hold Me (download)
Seriously, folks – this track is one of the more obscure ones I’ve got in the collection. I honestly don’t even know how it got there. I have a hunch it showed up on Pandora at some point, but I can’t be sure. But either way, ladies and gentlemen of the wuss jury, I intend to prove that just one listen of this song will leave the men with empty nutsacs and the women thoroughly unsatisfied.
Now, of course, you all remember the biggest and brightest Mellow Gold hit from Dan Seals and John Colley (not a typo), “I’d Really Love To See You Tonight.” You can read My Top Five Interesting Facts About England Dan And John Ford Colley back in Mellow Gold 13. (You’ll also get a chance to see Terje’s Mellowmas creation, which always impresses and worries me.) Catch up and come on back. We’re not here to talk about
the linen movin’ in today. Nor are we here to talk about any of their other Top 40 singles or even “In It For Love,” a fantastic mellow gem of theirs that Dave P sent me. They’ll all be covered in due time. And if I catch any of you guys talking about Todd Rundgren again, I’m going to have Dan Hill deliver a singing mellowgram to your bedroom at 4 in the morning. Don’t test me. I’ll do it.
Anyway, when we last saw the dynamic duo, they were just finishing up their latest photo session at the local Sears.
I feel like it’s only a matter of time before Ben Stiller and Luke Wilson adopt these roles.
The guys were doin’ pretty well, actually. Although they were in danger of being swallowed whole by their massive fucking collars, they managed to find success with a few other songs: two from Nights Are Forever (including the biggie), and two from their next album, Dowdy Ferry Road. If you think that album title’s awkward, consider one of the singles: “It’s Sad To Belong.” Sounds like it belongs on a perverse episode of Sesame Street or something. Anyhoo, it’s on their next album where we uncover today’s song.
Man, were these guys fucking downers or what? 4 hits in the Top 40 and “Some Things Don’t Come Easy?” Screw you guys! Firefall would have killed for your career, you assholes! There’s an especially earnest review of this album on AllMusic. I’m particularly fond of these two gems:
“If Dowdy Ferry Road was their bleak moment in song, Some Things Don’t Come Easy is the calm before the storm, a port prior to the schizophrenia that was Dr. Heckyll and Mr. Jive.”
All I want to do is call Joe Viglione in the middle of the night and tease him for listening to enough of England Dan and John Ford Coley that he can make a comparison like this one. But I won’t. Here’s the part I really love:
“They look alike on the smiling, happy airbrushed front cover, but you can almost see sadness in their eyes on the photos on the back.”
Ten minutes is longer than anybody should take to try and find the back cover on the ‘net, so if you can locate it, let us know. Interesting, though, that Joe mentioned the misleading smiles on the cover, but didn’t note the most misleading part of all – the electric guitar!
Anyway, the hit from this album was “We’ll Never Have To Say Goodbye Again” (and oh boy, is that one mellow), but I think “Hold Me” is much more interesting, mainly because it’s actually not really interesting at all. Instead, when listening to this song, one can’t help but feel like the duo merely decided to cash in on the mellow formula that they knew was a sure-fire hit. The song was written by Coley and two other guys – Bob Gundry and Simon Waltzer – who, as far as I can tell, haven’t really written anything else. It’s almost as of the three of them found a refrigerator-magnet set of mellow keywords, and just kind of put them together. Shall we? (Note: I couldn’t even find these lyrics online, which meant I had to listen to the song, pausing repeatedly, to transcribe these. No need to thank me. Everything I do, I do it for you.) Oh, and in case I haven’t mentioned it yet, I think this song is being sung to a whore. Let’s go!
Some loves are easy
And some are just games
Oh boy, England Dan, do I hear you on that one.
Sometimes the one you love doesn’t even have a name
Took me a minute to figure out what the hell this line meant. Now that I understand it, I don’t think it’s a very nice thing to say. Hookers have names. Isn’t that right, Charlene?
Sometimes I run away
And, of course, the image in your head should be some guy running down the block in his Fruit Of The Loom tighty-whities, clutching his jeans in his arms, tears rolling down his face, wondering if he left his wallet on the nightstand.
But this time I’ll stay
Oh, that’s a relief.
‘Cause you say your love will mend what’s broken
Shame, E.D.! That’s just a line they use so that you’ll squander away those “Diamond Girl” royalties your brother lent you!
Oh, wait a minute – here comes the best part: the chorus!
So hold me
Tell me that you’ll be here tomorrow
Just hold me
Do you have a love I can borrow?
Wuss jury, I present to you Exhibit A, and the only exhibit I really need to put forth: “Do you have a love I can borrow?” I’m seriously having a hard time thinking that these schmucks were earnestly asking such a question. In fact, some part of me wants to believe that this was just a way to rhyme with “tomorrow.” I need to believe it, because if not, then that means that these people are the wimpiest people ever to walk this Earth.
Except for maybe one person, whom you may have thought of already.
For those of you who aren’t fans of The Simpsons, here’s a brief clip where Kirk attempts to seduce his soon-to-be-ex-wife back into loving him via romantic serenade:
Go ahead. Try and convince me that the lyrics to “Hold Me” are any better than “Can I Borrow A Feeling?”.
And honestly! What does “do you have a love I can borrow” even mean? Are these guys so meek, so tentative that they wouldn’t dare actually ask a woman to give her love without any condition attached? If he really is talking to a hooker (and how fucked up would it be if I was right?), is he just deluding himself, thinking that what she’s giving him is actually love, when we know that what she’s really giving him is chlamydia? How did this get past Mellow Quality Control?
I’m not even through the chorus yet!
‘Cause the fire in your eyes
Makes my heart ignite
That’s the chlamydia talking, England Dan.
So hold me
Hold me tonight
Note the pronunciation of “hold” here: it’s got that a little bit of a breath behind it – the kind that is usually only used when the “hold me” phrase is supposed to be especially dramatic. I think this is an Seals/Coley thing: remember the way we heard the word “while” back in “I’d Really Love To See You Tonight”? (You don’t? Damn – clearly I’m working too hard here.)
The chorus is over and we’re back to that piano riff (which, by the way, makes me want to break into “Oh No” by The Commodores). Why mess with the formula, fellas? More lazy, wussy lyrics, please!
Some loves are spoken
And some understood
Are we doing a compare/contrast thing again, here? Are you saying that loves that are spoken are not understood? Or that to understand love, you can’t speak it? Are we talking about the kind of love that dares not speak its name (a.k.a. in the butt)?
Sometimes you throw away a love that seems so good
/smacks head on desk
Now here I am with you
Feeling hope again
This time I hope there’ll be no ending
I’m about 20 seconds away from just throwing in the towel, people.
More chorus, then…you guessed it: Bridge!
Let our souls unite
You’ll be the love in my life
Tell me that it’s not just for the night
Ah HA! It is a hooker! I knew it!
Here’s the one interesting part of the song: from the bridge, they go right back into the chorus, but they sneak in a key change. At least I think it’s a key change. I can’t tell, for some reason, and the fact that an England Dan & John Coley song is making me question my own musical abilities is messing with my head right now. And check out that ending – how they decide not to resolve to the root chord. There’s a reason for this, I’m sure. What it is, though, completely eludes me. Either way, it doesn’t change the fact that this song, while containing everything we look for in a Mellow Gold tune, seems disingenuous, somehow. I didn’t know it was possible to phone in a mellow performance before I heard “Hold Me.” In a way, this song represents the best and worst of Mellow Gold. I dunno. What do you guys think? Perhaps if this had been their debut performance on the charts, I’d believe them. But with the amount of mellow hits they had, and the fact that their eyes (supposedly) looked so sad on the back of the LP, I just can’t help but wonder if this song was formulaic filler.
Well, no matter: the boys managed to hold on to the formula a while longer, for just a few more singles, before they broke up and went their separate ways. Dan Seals headed towards the country market, where he amassed an impressive 11 #1s, 7 of them consecutive. He now tours with his brother Jim as part of Seals & Seals. (You can go to their website if you wish, but be aware that each time you load it, you’ll have to sit through a five-minute Flash presentation.) John Ford Coley left the business temporarily after the split, but you can find him touring this summer with the likes of Christopher Cross, Ambrosia, Stephen Bishop, and holy shit, I have to go right now and see if I can catch one of these shows.
I don’t know whether to be disgusted with this song or enamored with its mellowness, but either way, I’m out of time. See you soon for another Adventure Through The Mines Of Mellow Gold!