Hi again, everybody! It’s that time again – that time when we dissolve any sense of self-respect and go spelunking through the Mines Of Mellow Gold!
David Soul – Don’t Give Up On Us (download)
Although this song has been on “the list” for a while, I hadn’t really planned on covering it anytime soon. I’ve always thought this song kinda ran just on the edge between Mellow Gold and schmaltzy ballad. However, every time I hear it, I lose just a little bit of hair on my chest, and so it does fit in with the other songs we’ve discussed here. Plus, I received two requests to post this song – from two of my favorite bloggers, Malchus and Terje – within 12 hours of each other. I don’t know if the two of them wrote to each other, called each other on the phone, whatever, but their message came through loud and clear. Hang on, it’s gonna get lame in here!
You guys all remember David Soul, right? I know I didn’t. In fact, when Malchus wrote to me and requested the song, I responded with, “Well, I already covered ‘Goodbye Girl…”” Yeah. That’s David GATES, of Bread. Not David Soul. Thanks for not calling me out on that one, Scott.
David Soul is best known for playing Ken “Hutch” Hutchinson from Starsky and Hutch. However, clearly he wasn’t just an actor; he was a musician as well. In fact, he was a musician before he was an actor, and he was also a baseball player; he was actually offered a contract to play with the White Sox. (This is starting to read like the Chuck Norris Facts webpage.) Soul’s greatest desire was to be known for his music. How can I say this with such certainty? Because he actually said it, repeatedly. See, in order to get the public’s attention, Soul would sing while wearing a ski mask. He eventually made his way to The Merv Griffin Show under the billing “The Covered Man,” and would say “My name is David Soul, and I want to be known for my music.” Then, he would pull out a sawed-off shotgun and yell, “Any of you fucking pricks move, and I’ll execute every motherfucking last one of ya!”
Okay, maybe that last part didn’t happen. But the ski mask part is true:
“Mommy, this Spider-Man costume you made me sucks!”
Hmmm…masking the wussy face as a gimmick…paging Leo Sayer!
Anyway, Soul was signed to the Private Stock record label, and the label’s owner paired him up with songwriter Tony Macaulay, who you may know if you’ve heard “Baby, Now That I’ve Found You” – a hit for The Foundations in 1967 and later revived by Alison Krauss and Union Station. Macaulay didn’t write the song specifically for Soul, but found that it fit his voice perfectly. The public agreed – the single reached #1 on the Hot 100 in April of 1977, also spending 7 weeks in the Top 10.
So let’s talk about “Don’t Give Up On Us,” otherwise known as “David Soul waits patiently next to the dinner table, awaiting scraps from Barry Manilow’s supper plate.” This song has major wussicity on all fronts. Lyrically, it’s a fucking mess. Let’s start at the very beginning, as, y’know, that’s a very good place to start.
Don’t give up on us, baby
Don’t make the wrong seem right
“Don’t make the wrong seem right” is, quite possibly, the most awkward way of saying…whatever it is he’s trying to say here. Would this line of argument really work? I can’t imagine.
The future isn’t just one night
I like this phrase. It’s a nice, subtle way of saying “Don’t base the rest of our lives together on one unfortunate night of erectile dysfunction.”
It’s written in the moonlight
And painted in the stars
We can’t change ours
It wasn’t until the lyrics were actually written in front of me that I figured out what he means by “we can’t change ours.” He’s saying we can’t change our future. That’s a lie, David Soul. Your future hasn’t been written yet. No one’s has! Your future is what you make of it – so make it a good one, both of you!
Jesus, David Soul, you’ve got me quoting Doc Brown from Back To The Future III.
There are some other lyrics in this song. I’m going to mention them now, but you should know that I had to listen to the song at least three or four times before I caught them. I kept nodding off.
Don’t give up on us,
We’re still worth one more try
I know we put our last one by
Who wants to chip in and send a fucking rhyming dictionary to Tony Macaulay? Again with the awkwardness! Does anybody even say phrases like that last one? I should have stayed asleep.
I really lost my head last night (this supports my erectile dysfunction theory)
You’ve got a right (awkward rhyme alert!)
to stop believing
There’s still a little love left even so
Okay, I can’t take any more of this. No more lyric talk. Let’s talk about music instead (like that’s any relief). I’m sure there are real rock n’ roll instruments on this song somewhere, but I can’t hear a damn thing through the orchestra. Clearly the conductor called in sick, and the session musicians just had a field day; these guys are whacking off all over this song like it’s Peer Gynt. I thought I heard a guitar somewhere in the song…yup, there it is: a snippet at…nope, that’s not it…hang on, I know it’s here somewhere…yup, found it – 2:10. Two lines, and then it’s bitchslapped by the flugelhorn. There’s a little bit of guitar at the end, too – right around 3:27. I’d like to think that the guitarist believed “Don’t Give Up On Us” was going to be his big break, only to be horribly disappointed with the five notes retained in the final mix. I’d also like to think that the guitarist was, like, Walter Becker or something.
Something interesting does happen in “Don’t Give Up On Us,” from a musical standpoint: there’s a key change fake-out, and then the actual key change is completely unexpected. I don’t expect you to listen to the whole song to find these two spots, so here you go: the fake-out is at around 1:30, coming out of the bridge, and the actual key change is at 2:42. Soul, as well as his backing singers (Soullettes? Soullesses?) all sing through the key change, and it sounds awkward as all hell. I don’t know who made these decisions. Clive Davis?
Enough with the blah-blah-blah. Let’s watch the video!
I love this video. I love the fact that we see multiple, seemingly body-less David Souls. I love that there are tons – tons! – of awkward, contemplative poses in between verses (that’s the actor in him, you know). And most of all, I love his haircut. He’s dangerously close to this guy:
After the success of “Don’t Give Up On Us,” and Starsky and Hutch, David Soul did other things, I’m sure. But I can’t be bothered to look them up. I’ve spent too much time on this song. Suffice it to say that nothing really matched his previous successes (although playing Jerry Springer in Jerry Springer – The Opera in London was probably up there), but he did have a cameo in the movie version of Starsky and Hutch, and of course, Owen Wilson threw a little David Soul tribute in there as well:
Completely off-topic, but why can’t even the most proficient actors fake playing the guitar?
Oh, and by the way, Terje wants you to know about one of David Soul’s follow-up songs. Eager to cash in on the success of his wussy plea, Soul recorded a song entitled – and this is no joke – “Can’t We Just Sit Down And Talk It Over.” It’s from his album of the same sentiment, Playing To An Audience Of One. Remember how Eddie Murphy used to joke about Teddy Pendergrass, who would “scare the bitches into liking him?” Soul went the complete opposite direction and tried to pity the women into digging his unique brand of bittersweet folk rock. However, his pity party didn’t work. You only get one shot, David. Look at Dan Hill. Or Michael “Bluer Than Blue” Johnson. I’m not including “Can’t We Just Sit Down And Talk It Over,” even though Terje probably wants me to torture you. Nor will I include “Wait, Where Are You Going, I Thought You Said You’d Listen To Me, Okay, Hear Me Out, Just Thirty Seconds And I Promise You Can Go, And I Won’t Follow You, I Swear.”
Thanks again to Malchus and Terje for convincing me to spend way too much time on this one. I’ll never forgive either of you. Thanks for reading, and see you next week for another Adventure Through The Mines Of Mellow Gold!