Like just about everybody else on the Internet, I’m a huge fan of the Yacht Rock series. But dear readers, I don’t want you to think that I just jumped on the ol’ Yacht Rock bandwagon like those other people. No siree. I was a fan of this type of music way before JD and company made it hip.
I grew up with this music, for better or worse. My parents were radio listeners, especially on these 5-hour drives we’d routinely take up to the Adirondacks. While my dad never expressed a preference for this type of music, he always seemed to hone it on the stations that featured it. When I hear songs like “Biggest Part of Me” by Ambrosia and “Baby Come Back” by Player, I’m back in that station wagon, half asleep, pillow propped up against the window…this music entering my brain whether I wanted it to or not.
After one of our many music discussions (specifically, one where I was torturing Jeff with one of the songs mentioned below), Jeff suggested I do some exploring into the “mellow mines” of music. Why? He says it’s a good idea, but personally, I think he just wants you to share in his pain. That’s right, friends: Jefito Hates You.
Still, I think there’s something to his idea. I really do love this music, albeit for reasons I may not be able to explain, but why shouldn’t I share it?
So let’s put on our pink miners’ helmets and, uh, go spelunking, shall we? Today, we’ll examine two quintessential smooth hits.
Firefall – You Are The Woman (download)
Mike: “There’s only one word to describe this song: limp.”
Mike is on the money. This is one of the wussiest, wimpiest songs I’ve ever heard. Mike described this song – hell, the entire genre – in his post about the wussiest songs of all time:
The whole driving force behind yacht rock was the sensitive bearded proto-hipster dude singing to his woman about how much he understood her and how sex was not important to him. There are so many yacht rock songs that have some variation on the theme of “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.”
So many songs in music are about gettin’ it on, hot n’ heavy, screwin’ all night. This song is the equivalent of over-the-sweater petting.
But forget lyrics. From a musical standpoint, why is it so wimpy? Could it be that the flute enters the picture less than 2 seconds in, and then pisses all over the track? I swear, when I hear the flute part, I imagine Doug Henning doing a little fairy dance. There’s a few little “whoa-woh”s during the song, and then, around 1:49, we get this bridge, clearly building to a REAL “whoa!” Instead, there’s three quick flute hits, and a “whoa” that fits better in a sentence like, “Whoa! These Grape-Nuts are really good!”
This song is so gentle and sweet. I imagine that the woman dumped him immediately after hearing it and found herself, I don’t know, Ted Nugent. I love this song.
Robbie Dupree – Steal Away (download)
“Steal Away” should more appropriately be titled “Steal Away Michael McDonald’s Fucking Riff.” Dupree directly lifted his piano riff (as well as the piano tone, the backing vocal and even some of the drum beats) from “What A Fool Believes.” Want proof? Please excuse the disparities in audio quality between the two tracks in this little impromptu mashup; I do it only to serve my point.[audio:http://www.wwmmd.net/tunes/inline/stealafool.mp3]
Upon hearing “Steal Away,” I naturally thought, “McD’s gotta be involved in this, somehow.” It only takes a quick listen of “This Is It” by Kenny Loggins or “Ride Like The Wind” by Christopher Cross to recognize the hand of The Master. Surely McD gave his permission for “Steal Away,” played the riff and sang backup, yes?
No. He didn’t. Robbie Dupree is a THIEF.
I’m not the first to discuss this – see here and here (especially that last one, even noting that Dupree stole McD’s LOOK!), nor was Dupree the only one to steal the riff – apparently “He’s So Shy” by The Pointer Sisters took it as well – but I don’t think anybody was as blatant as good ol’ Robbie. And need I comment on the actual title of the song?
Well, download it if you like. It’s no “What A Fool Believes” (well, actually, I guess it kind of IS “What A Fool Believes,”) but it’s smooth and mellow nonetheless.
And, as we exit the Mines Of Mellow Gold, please ensure that you still have your pink miner’s hat and all of your body parts. If you’re a guy, your nuts may have inadvertently detached during the trip. If you need more emasculation, well, have no fear, we’ll be exploring more of the Mines before too long!