[Such a Cliché] -- Some time ago, I thought about doing a Flashback about songs built around clichéd, or at least overused, phrases. Unfortunately, I already used my main lyrical contender for a different theme, that being the "Short Takes" Flashback from February of this year. But the cliché theme was given new life after I received an email from my father. During one of his recent trips to the Cleveland Clinic, he was listening to Sirius Satellite Radio. A few songs caught his ear, and made him think about me and these blog posts I write. "I wonder," he told me, "How many songs are based on well known phrases?" The two he found are definitely built that way, and certainly qualify for this week's theme. I added one more and, voilà, we have the trio of tunes necessary for a Flashback. If you would like to know the clichés and their songs for this week, just read and hear more after the break.
Flashback #1: "A look from you and I would fall from grace | And it would wipe the smile right from my face."
As I previously wrote, Geoff Downes, John Wetton, Steve Howe, and Carl Palmer were already famous individually for playing in some of the biggest prog-rock bands of the 70s. And the sound they created in the early 80s as the four-piece called Asia owed more to the 70s than the New Wave that was taking over the radio. Still, their 1982 eponymous debut album spawned two huge hits (one peaked at #4 on Billboard Top Singles chart, and the other landed squarely in the top 20 of the U.S. Billboard Hot 100). Other songs on the album achieved considerable radio play as well. Their sound was slickly produced yet still muscular, likely due to Palmer's steady percussion and Wetton's driving bass. And while the music was majestic in scope -- you have to play at a grand level if you choose to name your band after a continent -- their lyrics bordered on overly cheesy and melodramatic. Take our first Flashback for instance, "Heat of the Moment." Before we even get to the chorus which features the song title (itself something of a cliché), we are subjected to four straight lines of clichéd phrasing: I never meant to be so bad to you | One thing I said that I would never do | A look from you and I would fall from grace | And it would wipe the smile right from my face. The only band to place more clichés in one song is GTR! To date, "Heat of the Moment" remains Asia's biggest chart success. How could it not be? Just look at the amazing video they released. It features literal interpretations almost line by line (how helpful)!
Flashback #2: "One life Im gonna live it up."
Now, our first Flashback of the day is one I've been holding onto for the right occasion. But Flashback #2 comes from my fathers' email that I mentioned in the intro. Judas Priest's "You've Got Another Thing Comin'" was the first single of their eighth studio album, Screaming for Vengeance (1982). It is the only song of Priest's to chart in the US, reaching #67 on the Billboard Hot 100 charts. It is also considered one of the 40 Greatest Metal Songs ... at least by VH1. In his email, Dad mused that he thought this particular phrase -- "You've got another thing coming" -- had been modified from the original. And he was correct. It is an eggcorn idiom, the result of replacing a similar sounding word in the phrase and resulting in one with a different meaning but is still useable in the same context. In this case, the original phrase was, "you've got another THINK coming," and it dates back to around 1898. "You've Got Another Thing Comin'" has been in use since 1919. Judas Priest's music might be around for an equal span, but the band won't: They are currently on their farewell tour. (See Epitaph World Tour).
Flashback #3: "The fields of Eden | Are full of trash | And if we beg and we borrow and steal | We'll never get it back."
Our final Flashback of the day received the following one-line review from my father: "It is a good rock and roll song according to my ear." Well, the band who recorded it has quite a bit of experience in rock and roll. That band would be the Rolling Stones. The 80s were not particularly kind to the Stones, perhaps due in large part to the increasing split between Mick Jagger and Keith Richards. But they still managed to put out some quality music. Steel Wheels (1989), the band's 21st studio album in the US (but their 19th overall in the UK), was not only heralded as a comeback of sorts, but was also widely known for Keith and Mick patching up their differences. And if this is the kind of album they can produce after fighting for a few years, they should maybe do the fight-and-make-up thing in cycles. The second single from Steel Wheels, "Rock and a Hard Place,"reached #23 in the US and #1 on the Mainstream Rock Tracks chart. The lyrics make steady use of a very familiar phrase: Caught between a rock and a hard place. I can't help but wonder if the Stones felt like that about their career as a band while Mick and Keith were feuding. But I don't have an answer because the lyrics point to societal rather then interpersonal issues. Wait ... Come to think of it, this might be a perfect song for being one month away from casting our ballots for president. Turn it up!
Once again, I remind you that the rule of three applies when doing Flashbacks. As I've made my three offerings, that's all till next week. I thank Dad for being a guest 80s-phile today. And I want to remind all you dedicated 80s-philes that you can find more flashbacks in the archives. As always, your comments are welcome on today's, or any other, flashback post. And if you like what I'm doing here, please share the link with your friends. If, however, you don't like the flashback, feel free to share it with your enemies.
I'll see you in seven!