Adventures Through the Mines of Mellow Gold: Paul Davis Edition

As you may know, Mellow Gold hero Paul Davis died yesterday from a heart attack at the age of 60. Davis was the focus of one of the first Adventures Through the Mines of Mellow Gold posts on; in tribute (albeit snarky tribute), we repost today. -JH


We’ll talk about Paul Davis: The Man, The Myth, The Gentle in a minute. First, let’s get into the music.

Paul Davis – I Go Crazy (download)

What problem might I have with “I Go Crazy,” you may be wondering. It’s a valid question. After all, it’s pretty enough. Gentle vocal (and some unexpected ventures into the bass range). Light, unobtrusive strings. A 5-note riff on the keyboard after the chorus, stolen from Dennis DeYoung’s “Babe,” (update: reader Jhensy has pointed out that “Babe” came out after this single, so if anything, DeYoung is the dirty thief) that is guaranteed to become an earworm (or, near the end of the song, a buzzing fly). I don’t quite get the bluesy keyboard riffing at the end, but I’ll forgive it.

My problem is this.

Think of the songs you know that mention “going crazy” somehow in the title. I came up with “Let’s Go Crazy” by Prince, “I Go Crazy” by Queen (a b-side, but I’m a big Queen fan) and of course, who could forget the classic “Goin’ Crazy!” by David Lee Roth? (all of us, apparently.)

But here’s my point. All of these songs that mention going crazy have a sound reminiscent of someone perhaps, oh, I don’t know…going crazy. Not Paul Davis, however.

Here. Just for the hell of it, here’s a crude mashup of the four tracks. Excuse the sonic quality; I’m trying to prove a point. Tell me if one of these things is not like the others.

“Crazy” Mash-Up

At no point in “I Go Crazy” does Paul Davis actually sound like he’s really going crazy. Going Introspective? Maybe. Going Doubtful and Inquisitive? Sure. But we all know what this song should have been called. It should have been called “I Go Mellow.”

If Paul Davis is indeed going crazy when he looks in her eyes, then my friends, it’s the wussiest kind of crazy there could ever be. And that’s why it’s in the mines of Mellow Gold.

So listen back to those vocals. If you don’t already know what Paul Davis looks like, get an image in your head.

Whatcha got? Accountant? Small lil’ guy, neat, black hair? Maybe a suit? That’s what I’ve got. In fact, if you do a Google image search for Paul Davis, many images seem like they could be him.

This is Paul “I Go Crazy” Davis.

Motherfucker looks like Gregg Allman! This guy should be … I don’t know. Ripping a mean guitar solo? Smoking dope? Having his way with women? And instead, he’s approaching them gently, and giving them the message that he’d like to love them just a little bit, and if they’re not happy with it, then TOO DAMN BAD, WOMAN then it’s okay, they can leave, they don’t have to stay. He doesn’t want to offend anyone. (Looks down at the ground, shyly, shuffles his feet)

Which brings us to song #2.

Paul Davis – Cool Night (download)

I ask you this: do they get any smoother? Any more mellow? I seriously don’t think it’s possible.

Like “I Go Crazy,” this song is actually quite pretty. Gentle, unobtrusive backing vocals. This one actually has a drum beat to it, which means that it’s considered a Paul Davis “rock” song, I suppose. There are two main differences between “I Go Crazy” and “Cool Night,” however: the first difference is that “Cool Night” sounds exactly like you’d expect it to sound. Unlike track 1, we’re not expecting Paul Davis to go batshit insane on a song called “Cool Night.”

The other difference happens at 2:33. Paul Davis actually does go a little crazy. He lets his Gregg Allman-esque hair down and does something truly ballsy: KEY CHANGE!

I love the key change. When I sing this song to myself, I never have the patience to get to the chorus after the guitar solo. I always do the key change right away. That’s how much I love the key change.

My buddy Mike sums up the emotion behind many of the Mellow Gold hits:

“I love you so much that I will never bother you again” or “come on baby, just allow me to be in your beatific presence and I will not even think of putting any kind of sexual move on you. I promise.”

That’s “Cool Night” in a nutshell. “If it don’t feel right, you can go.” I almost can’t believe he’s making the statement. A guy who looks like that? Come ON! I keep wondering if it’s a Jedi mind trick of some sort. Does the woman stay? Does she leave him to go find the guy from Firefall? (Whoa!) It’s a mystery, friends. A cool, mellow mystery.

I was going to end this post after two songs, but what the hell. Paul Davis had one more Mellow Gold hit in the ’80s.

Paul Davis – ’65 Love Affair (download)

Or as I like to call it, “The Boy From New York City.” I mean, come on. Right from the first few notes, I heard the similarities – and this was before the “doo-wop didddy-wop-diddy-wop doo” bit. Hmmm…the keyboard part in “I Go Crazy,” and now this…is Paul Davis pulling a Robbie Dupree?

If “Cool Night” was considered Paul Davis’ “rock sound,” “’65 Love Affair” features him firmly ensconsed in the “speed metal” phase of his career. Could we have done something about those drums? How about that awful 2-beat hit that’s supposed to sound like clapping or…something?

I’m not saying that Davis didn’t do a semi-respectable job of resurrecting the golden-oldie soul sound. However, the lyrics leave a little tons to be desired: “Well I asked you like a dum-dum/You were bad with your pom-poms/You said, ‘ooh wah go team ooh wah go!’ Ooh-ee baby I want you to know/” And he does mention in the chorus:”’65 love affair, we wasn’t getting nowhere.” I wonder if it’s because he told the girl she could leave if it didn’t feel right?

“I Go Crazy,” “Cool Night,” “’65 Love Affair.” I’m using all of these songs to make a point. That point is this: Paul Davis is a sissy.

I kid, I kid. I give Paul Davis credit, actually: the pop sensibilities of both “’65 Love Affair” and “Cool Night” were a departure from his previous country sound, and Davis was so disgusted with the commercialization of his music that he essentially quit the business altogether. Can you blame him? Look at those “’65 Love Affair” lyrics again. Also, here’s a crazy fact: Paul Davis was shot in 1986…and survived! (No word on whether he was shot by the woman who left because it didn’t feel right.)

Although Paul is no longer with us, we know that up to his death, he lived in Mississippi and liked to fish.

You have to wonder, though: did Paul Davis kill the fish? Did he catch it and tell it that it could go back in the water with the other fishes if it wasn’t happy? When the boat stalled, did he mutter “I Go Crazy?”

Hope you enjoyed this expedition into the Mines of Mellow Gold!

  • Jeff B.

    I liked his music and liked this post as well. Yeah, it's kinda wussy- so what? Sometimes you NEED wussy…

    “Do Right” was another 'Mellow Gold' single. When it came out I had a cousin who worked for a Christian radio station in Orlando and this song was an unusual crossover at the time in that it went from Pop to Christian, mostly by accident. My cousin interviewed him for her station and he had said that the implications of the song were really accidental- basically it wasn't written to be 'Christian' per se, but was glad another audience found it. RIP…

  • scrumble

    A subject for further study are early 1980s evocations of “the sixties” that bore no resemblance to the actual culture of the era: Joanie Loves Chachi and Grease 2 would be high on that list, along with George Harrison's “All Those Years Ago”.

    Kinda disappointed by the tone of this, given how Davis would've more likely been revered here on any given week a la Toto or Chicago… if he didn't die.

    Thanks for the downloads, though, despite lack of “Do Right”.

  • Fred

    I liked all of these songs. Generally forgot about this guy, he was Firefall/Kenny Loggins/Fogelberg, you know? Some decent tunes here.

  • David_E

    Oh, carp. I loved all three of these songs. Mellow wuss-out or not, “I Go Crazy” is haunting. This makes me sad.

  • rwcass

    Yep, all three are great soft-rock songs. I used to roller-skate to “'65 Love Affair” when I was six.

  • JavaMusiK

    The first hit of his that caught my ear was “Ride 'Em Cowboy” in 1973, followed by the haunting “I Go Crazy” in 1977. Of course there were others, but those two remained favorites. His voice had a cool richness to it. Sad to see him go. Thnx 4 the tribute.

  • Old_Davy

    The “Ride 'Em Cowboy” album has a little snippet inbetween songs that sounds like a redneck calling into a radio station complaining about a song and “marijuana peel”. It's hilarious.

    RIP Paul, you mellow master.

  • Fudgester

    I go crazy makes me think of Ned Flanders getting mad

  • Stephe

    Paul Davis is doowhadittywhadoo, and that, my friends, is magical.

  • mark

    anybody know the name of that 80s song that goes

    Baby I
    Got caught in a line

    sorry, those are the only lines i know

  • JohnHughes

    I believe you're thinking of “Tired of Toein' the Line” by Rocky Burnett:

  • mojo

    oh wah go team ooh wah go

    Was it a heart attack? Really? It could have been some sort of chemical deficiency, i.e. pure lack of soul that got him in the end? I sense a coverup.

  • jefito

    As long as Pat Boone lives, “lack of soul” will not be an acceptable cause of death.

  • mark

    yes, that's it. thank you. been driving me crazy.

  • Sara

    I didn't know who Paul Davis is until I saw the Blue Desert West Coast Site.
    He is honored on the Cool Night West Coast Music Site in France because he gave them the name of the site.
    Wherever he his he's fishin' I guess FIP Paul (Fish In Peace)

  • Drummer_Doug

    I had the great pleasure of knowing Paul when he lived in Atlanta in the 70's. I was a musician playing clubs and doing some recording during those years. I dropped by WEB IV (Bang Records) studios many times to chat with Paul and hear what he was working on. Paul came in to see us play a few times when we were in a club near the studio. He was one of the nicest people I've ever known in the music business. Paul would interrupt a session to shoot the breeze for a few minutes and catch up. Such a kind man he was. He and engineer Ed Seay (who now lives and works in Nashville – doing quite well, I might add) would play Paul's works in progress for me. To see Paul and Ed work together was fascinating. Ed even played trombone parts on Paul's “Thinking of You.” Phil Benton was also a friend and did engineering on some of Paul's stuff.

    I had the great pleasure to see Paul perform live. In fact, I sat with Paul's then wife, Pam, at the old Great Southeast Music Hall which used to be in Broadview Plaza in Atlanta. Paul's band that night consisted of members of the Ron Price Band. They had recorded with Paul on his then current “Southern Tracks & Fantasies” album. I believe they were on the Bang label as well. They opened for Paul that night, as well, and were fantastic in their own write. Ron played a Ric bass and had a very McCartney-like voice. It was a great show. The music was note-perfect, and Paul's dry, southern wit was hysterical. He was loads of fun to be around and NEVER suffered from the “don't forget that I'M the star” syndrome. I will never forget his kindness to me over those years. The gentleness in his music was sincere. That was truly the way he was.

    By the way, in one of the posts on here, from Old Davy, he referred to the snippet between songs on “Southern Tracks…” that sounded like a redneck calling in to a radio station talking about “marijuana peels.” That was actually James Stroud, then an excellent session drummer who played on some of Paul's tracks. James is now President of Arista Country! James was recorded clowning around on the telephone. Unbeknownst to James, Phil Benton patched the phone into the board and started recording his carrying-on. It ended up on the record between the tracks kind of as a joke on James. One more thing – James was involved in the production of the kind of dumb diso single, “Ring My Bell.” Stupid song but I wouldn't have minded receiving the checks in the mail from producing it! James has certainly come a long way since then!!

    Rest in peace, Paul. I will never forget your kindness, all the fantastic music and good times that I feel privileged to have been a small part of. Thank you! You and your heartfelt music will be sorely missed.

  • toddc

    You have-to have experienced love and to have lost love; to appreciate this song. This song is up there with Another Old Lang Syne by Dan Folgerberg.

  • jim

    I need to find Phil Benton, we palyed in first band together the Echos in 1962 or 3 and I need to reconnect with him. Please email jim.brannon if you know how to find hin

  • Sweet Life

    Sweet Life is possibly one of the greatest songs ever recorded

  • Sweet Life

    Sweet Life is possibly one of the greatest songs ever recorded

  • Sweet Life

    Sweet Life is possibly one of the greatest songs ever recorded

  • Pingback: Paul Davis RIP at Now Hear This Music()

  • George

    Sadly Paul Davis died the day after his 60 th birthday. I came to “know” him through his postings to this Yahoo Group:

    Regarding “I Go Crazy” – there is no need to get weird singing about crazy themes. Think about “Crazy after all these Years” by Paul Simon. (Karen Carpenter’s version is rather more crazy BTW!) Listen to that version – and especially the vocal harmonies – crazy as hell!

    “I Go Crazy” held the record for consecutive weeks on American Top 40 at that time – demonstrating it to be the standard still played to this day.

    Jason – lets be clear on this – Paul Davis was a very effective popular singer for the period he was working in – when singer/songwriters were in vogue. Further, he demonstrated he could get hits through singing himself, or through the interpretation of others such as Dan Seals. I like this trio:

    As for the harmonies and chord progressions – there was definitely some creativity there.

  • Peter

    More likely lack of activity. He seemed to be semi-retired for years and years. But it was a massive heart attack.

  • Tommy

    Yes at his peak he was unbeatable as a popular singer songwriter

  • Angela

    You are an ignorant asshole!!!!!!!!!

  • Steelmagnolia47

    LOL @ Angela. I know you have to be referring to HARE. My sentiments exactly on my first reading, but I recalled what Paul told Captain Craig (many years ago) regarding ‘reviews’ so didn’t respond at that time. However, going on 3 years since Paul’s death, I now do have to LOL at the asshole :)))) PS – I also wish he knew the correct words to Paul’s songs…

  • Angela

    gaggle of fans….. Paul was my uncle and someone that I loved very much.

  • Steelmagnolia47

    In my anger, I mistyped. Just to set the record straight: The interview with Paul in which he responded to a question regarding his music was done by Gary James, Edmonton’s 92.5 JOE FM.

  • Anonymous

    I’m not sure what I said that was worth multiple exclamation points. I did some light teasing in a tongue-in-cheek article, while sincerely giving both Paul and his songs credit. I still listen to all these songs. In fact, just the other day, I was listening to my ’80s playlist, and “Cool Night” came on. Instantly, I felt gentle.

  • Anonymous

    I’m not sure what I said that was worth multiple exclamation points. I did some light teasing in a tongue-in-cheek article, while sincerely giving both Paul and his songs credit. I still listen to all these songs. In fact, just the other day, I was listening to my ’80s playlist, and “Cool Night” came on. Instantly, I felt gentle.

  • Jim

    The reason you’re “not sure” is because you are an “ignorant asshole”.

  • JoeHTH

    I’m not even sure what the point of the article was. Paul Davis was something that most singers today aren’t…………talented! How I miss the days when singers could actually sing, didn’t need autotune, and could legitimately play an instrument.

    As for Paul’s songs, his best in my opinion was Sweet Life, and Do Right was good as well. So you don’t like Paul’s music. To each their own.

  • Katherine McChesney

    This article sucks. Paul Davis was a wonderful writer and singer. They hold up today.