You’re the poet in my heart

FleetwoodMacSaraOn 16 February, 1980, “Sara” by Fleetwood Mac peaked at #7.

One of the more distinctive songs I’ve covered so far in this project has been Fleetwood Mac’s “Tusk“, which is more a primal chant than a pop song.  With “Sara“, Fleetwood Mac is again doing something unconventional, but in a much more subtle manner. You can be sitting in your car, whiling your way through a traffic jam by humming along with this song, and then it strikes you… this song doesn’t rhyme!  That may not seem like a big deal, but for a song on top 40 radio, that’s unusual.  You would also be forgiven if you didn’t notice when you were shifting into the chorus.  This song doesn’t provide any prompts as to where it’s going:  no hokey key changes, no crescendos, no dramatic pauses.  It’s just a shuffle of a drum beat with a subdued, though oddly chaotic guitar strum, with elfin background vocals drifting in and out of a shimmering curtain of music, not sad, not mysterious, but certainly serious and… maybe wistful.

Or maybe those background voices are really entirely neutral and only pick up their wistful quality by association with Stevie Nicks’s lovely, lilting delivery of what is, effectively, a prose poem, saying much more about life and love in images than Kenny Loggins could say with direct statements.  There’s a man, both attractive and daunting, a great dark wing in the wings of a storm, but he was a restless soul (“when you build your house, then please call me home”).  And her consolation as she drowns, eagerly, in a lake of love is the knowledge that this powerful, restless heart once told her that she was his everything.

Sure, she’s a total sap, but she’s a total sap in the way everyone wants to be a total sap — dreamily and achingly.  She may have lost in love, but she’s found beauty in the experience.

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Overview of 16 February 1980

Only ten songs peaked on the Hot 100 in the week of 16 February 1980 and quite a few of them are notable, so this overview will be fairly short.

We both know something is coming

Dana Valery I Dont' Want to Be Lonely.pngFirst off, at #87 we have  “I Don’t Want to Be Lonely” by the lovely Italian Dana Valery, which is a very good song for people learning how to speak English.  Valery sings about a relationship on the rocks very simply and clearly, the sentences are very straightforward and literal, using only the commonest of idioms.  As a result, it is incredibly unmemorable, with no standout lines or anyplace in particular in the song where the music does anything surprising or notable… even the guitar solo is anodyne.  I’d be amazed if anyone remembers this song at all.

Journey to the stars! Rock n’ roll guitars!

april-wine-i-like-to-rock-capitol.jpgThen we have “I Like to Rock” by April Wine at #86.  April Wine were a much bigger deal in Canada than they were in the US, but they had a bit of a heyday south of the border for a year and a half around 1981.  It’s not entirely clear exactly what prompted them to write “I Like to Rock”.  The lyrics are a bunch of non-sequiturs, particularly the part about space travel, and the music is not particularly special classic rock jammin’.  C’mon Canada, you can do better than this.

 

Even though it’s not a big hit for them, “The Hardest Part” by Blondie (#84) is too interesting to tackle in just a few sentences. It gets its own page.

Spread it with some jelly

twennynine-featuring-lenny-white-peanut-butter-elektra.jpgPeanut Butter” by Twennynine featuring Lenny White (#83) is not in any way what I was expecting.  I was expecting a disco cover of “I like Peanut Butter” by The New Beats, which is surprisingly not the most insipid song ever written. Instead, this is a funk anthem of sorts about eating peanut butter sandwiches.  Oh, with the occasional Woody Woodpecker laugh.  It’s a weird concoction clearly made with a healthy sense of nonsense.  Or is it really a Taoist philosophical parable — if all you want in life is a peanut butter sandwich, how can you ever be unhappy?  You know, ’cause peanut butter ain’t nothin’ but a sammich.

Swift time

MikePineraGoodnight.pngMike Pinera had a career playing guitar with hard rockers like Iron Butterfly and Alice Cooper, which makes “Goodnight My Love” (#70) weirdly incongruous, because it sounds like the kind of thing Kenny Rogers should be singing. That’s not exactly a bad thing, and I think Pinera actually does a better job than the standard lifeless crooner in singing about how torn he is between wanting to stay with his love and needing to leave because the wee hours are turning into the waking hours.  he sounds tender and torn, and that’s an achievement in easy listening.  Nonetheless, the song isn’t particularly memorable, which makes his lack of chart success unsurprising.

It’s a heartbreakin’, earthshakin’ devil’s child

dann-rogers-looks-like-love-again-international-artists.jpgI can’t say the same about Dann Rogers’s delivery in “Looks Like Love Again” (#41), in which he sings about the repeated travails love puts you through in a tone more suited to selling dish soap. It’s a shame, because lyrics like “love’s a little slice of heaven and a little hell” deserve a more heart-felt vocal, and the title needs to be sung in a world-weary pain that doesn’t come across in perky easy-listening country well.  This one could serve to be covered by someone willing to take more risks.

 

There are four more songs that peaked this week, but they’re all notable, so I’ll write about them individually. And because they’re all clumped in the high numbers I can keep them secret for a bit.  So, those are the lesser songs of the week of 16 February 1980.  Next up will be Blondie, and then four mystery songs, at least one of which is actually good.

 

I guess we used to be the lucky ones

StyxWhyMeOn 9 February, 1980, “Why Me” by Styx peaked at #26.

They say that imitation is the greatest form of flattery; if so, Queen should be very flattered by Styx’s “Why Me“.  It’s not a 100% stylistic… homage, let us say — the saxophone that chimes in at 1:45 on this video is decidedly not-Queen, for instance — but from the triumphal bombastic beginning and the occasional growling delivery of Dennis DeYoung to the weird interpolation of “Rubelator” in a pause in the action there’s a lot of Freddie Mercury lingering in the wings.

But if you’re going to mack someone else’s style, you should do it well, and Styx does a good job at putting out a second-rate Queen single here.  They take on an abstract concept — the vagaries of life shifting one’s fortunes from day to day — and hit mostly the right tones with it.  And at the end of the song, you feel both the frustrations and exhilarations of life, not just in the lyrics, but also in the music.  So good on Styx.

Where this song fails to ascend to the heights that Queen is able to reach is in its inability to bridge from the abstract to the concrete without seeming trivial.  To make an admittedly unfair comparison, “Bohemian Rhapsody” — perhaps one of the best rock songs ever, if not the actual best — discusses all of these things, but also ties the discussion to a gripping concrete story of murder and desperation.  Sure, Styx wasn’t trying to rival “Bohemian Rhapsody” in “Why Me”, but the attempts to connect with the concrete in this song — those bills to pay, and the awkwardly forced “that’s what I want to know” as the song fades — clank like tin among the soaring tones of the abstract parts of the song.  Styx would have been better to keep their heads in the clouds on this one, which is admittedly hard for a band that was billing itself as America’s voice for the blue collar rust belt.  But that’s the difference between a good band and a great band:  a good band makes great songs but can’t transcend its niche.

9 February 1980 Overview

Eleven songs peaked on 2 February 1980.

Softly we met with a kiss

AerosmithRemember.jpgRemember (Walking in the Sand)” by Aerosmith, a blues-rocking cover of the debut single by the Shangri-Las peaked at #67.  Whereas the original sounds funereal, Aerosmith gave it a sharper bite by wisely dropping the moronic, naively maudlin vocal lead-in and making the chorus something of a rockabilly shuffle. It’s still overdone, but less ridiculous, which succeeds in doing what a cover should do:  reinterpret a song but not to the extent that it’s no longer memorable.  Not my cup of tea, but it serves its purpose.

Share my popcorn and jellybeans

SisterSledgeGottoLove.png After Prince’s genre-defying “I Wanna Be Your Lover” we needed someone to remind us what mainstream disco sounds like, and Sister Sledge does so suitably with “Got to Love Somebody” (#64).  Though it’s straight up disco with the twonky bass, standard brass section, and far more singers than are necessary, Sister Sledge do better than the average disco group in the topics they sing about and the lyrics they use in doing so.  This an empowering song that takes the specifics of loneliness without overselling loneliness as the end of the world– being the only hand in the popcorn box at the movies — and then the change in attitude that, presumably, will fix the situation.  The song isn’t making any promises other than that this girl is going to have fun looking for her next beau at the discos than she was watching rom-coms alone.

You’ve probably been crying forever

RodStewartTalkAboutIt.pngSometimes you have to be careful with YouTube.  I Don’t Want to Talk About It” by Rod Stewart (#46) is a case in point:  he rerecorded it in 1989, and I nearly reviewed the wrong version.  This one is acoustic, and as a result feels a lot earthier, and more sincere, not adjectives I normally associate with Rod.  His trademark gravelly voice works here to make him sound like he’s on the verge of tears, a vulnerability I really appreciate in a good ballad.  And it fits the lyrics:  in consoling an ex who has been hurt in some way, he’s absolving her, hinting strongly that he still loves her, sure, but not wanting to linger an the wrongs she’s done him.  The guitar work is nice, too (though I could have passed on the wonky key change toward the end), so all In all, a pleasant surprise.

Given any day there’s a jet flying somewhere

JonStewartLostHer.pngJohn Stewart is a former member of The Kingston Trio, and given “Lost Her in the Sun” (#34), he must have been the one with the boring voice.  Nevertheless, good songwriting and good delivery overcome vocal failings, and John Stewart delivers on this score.  “Lost Her in the Sun” is an aching ballad about a lost love; he wonders what he’s done that his girl should fly away without letting him know why, and he may never know.  He does know it’s going to hurt forever, like cold wind cutting deep into his soul.  And he knows, whatever it was, it’s his fault he’s lost something wonderful — he’s lost her in the warmth and light of the sun, after all.  Really this song is about as perfect as a two-verse lost love song can get.

Dance with you, romance with you

RufusChakaLoveWhatYouFeel.pngFull disclosure:  I was four years old in 1980, which means that like some of the young ‘uns out there today who are unaware that Sting got his start in a band called The Police, I was unaware that Chaka Khan started out with Rufus (who isn’t actually a person at all, but just the name of the band). They had a string of top-40 soul and disc hits through the 70s, of which “Do You Love What You Feel” (#30) was the final bookend.  Lyrically, it’s nothing special.  Musically, it’s fun, but not doing enough to really be memorable.

“Why Me” by Styx (#26) deserves its own entry.

Well, I wouldn’t stop for a million bucks

HayesDon'tLetGo.pngDon’t Let Go” by Isaac Hayes (#18) is his last hit.  It’s a bit unusual for him in that it doesn’t feature his voice the way you’d expect.  He’s pushed back in the mix, so much so that the jaunty funk guitar seems to get top billing over him.  Don’t get me wrong, this song is infectious; I dare you to listen to this without getting restless legs.  It’s just not a good showcase for Isaac Hayes.  Really, this should be a Grace Jones song (a la “Pull Up to the Bumper“, which fell one spot shy of the Hot 100 in 1981) — she can put the sultry sexiness that a choppy bouncy song needs, whereas Isaac Hayes is just too smooth for this kind of beat.

You’re a different space in time

WarwickDejaVu.pngSpeaking of Isaac Hayes, he’s one of the talents behind “Deja Vu” by Dionne Warwick (#15); he wrote it with Adrienne Anderson, and Barry Manilow produced the whole album.  Perhaps this is why the song sounds like living purple lame.  Listening to it, can’t you just imagine Dionne standing on a stage in, say, Las Vegas, wearing a purple lame gown, dripping in white rhinestones, exhaling this east ditty as a bunch of cigar-chomping businessmen sit around totally ignoring her?  I say ignoring her, because the way she delivers this song is barely substantial; it’s more a well-practiced breathing pattern than a series of words with natural inflection or even meaning.  like so much cigar smoke and twinkling light, it drifts around in the background, greasing social skids but leaving not much of substance in its wake.

In the public eye, giving someone else a try

tom-petty-and-the-heartbreakers-dont-do-me-like-that-1979.jpgDon’t Do Me Like That” by Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers (#10) is another vulnerable rock song, albeit with a bit of a macho twang to it.  Here’s a guy who’s trying hard not to admit he’s in love with the girl he’s seeing, and he’s tryin’ to play it all cool warning her if she strays she’s going to get hurt, just as much as he would.  It’s a fine example of a guy transitioning from the free-wheeling womanizer to the marrying kind.  I’m not sure exactly why this is top ten material, but the competition wasn’t all that strong, as we’ve been seeing. If it sounds a bit on the high-school anthem side, like, oh, “Centerfold by the J. Geils Band, you’re not alone:  Wikipedia tells us that Tom Petty nearly gave this song to J. Geils, thinking it sounded more like their style than his.

All the debutantes in Houston

EaglesLongRun.pngAt #8, we have another loping bit of somnolent rocking from The Eagles, “The Long Run“, which isn’t making me like them any more than I did before.  It’s another rambling litany of related sentences that don’t get much further than establishing that the singer was a cad, and now he’s not, and it’s because he’s in love, and she should treat herself better, too.  If it were a little more drunk it would sound just like “Heartache Tonight“; there may have been room on the charts for them both in 1980, but I certainly don’t have the energy for both.

And finally, “Rock With You” by Michael Jackson spent its last week at #1, and every #1 deserves its own page.

2 February 1980 Overview

 

OK, so, after quite a lot of thought and a comment by a reader, I’ve decided that the original plan was a bit too ambitious.  So I’m reformatting.  Instead of doing an entire page on each song that hit the Hot 100 in the 80s — an endeavor that could last more than four times as long as the 80s themselves — I’m going to do an overview of each week with a paragraph on each of the lesser songs, and then do a page on each of the more interesting songs.  I’m finding it’s rare that I have more than two paragraphs to say about many of these songs anyway, and I want to get to the more interesting stuff as quickly as possible. Still, I’m going to try to stick to the original format as much as possible, albeit in a condensed form.  The same links to videos, the same headers featuring lyrics from the songs when possible, and the same level of snarkiness.  The only downside is that these overview pages are going to be a bear to construct.  Here’s the first one.

Thirteen songs peaked on 2 February 1980.  The following I’ve already talked about:

So here’s what the rest of the week looked like:

They’re a dozen for a dime

RobertJohnLonelyEyes.pngPeaking at #41, just outside the hit zone, is “Lonely Eyes” by Robert John, who clearly has a thing for eyes, because his previous hit was “Sad Eyes” which made it to #1 in 1979.  “Lonely Eyes” is superficially triumphal, but it’s about a woman who hangs out at bars or discos and slinks from one one-night-stand to another.  The delivery, with its gentle lope and weepy violins, takes up a fitting tone, both danceable and world-weary.  This is the kind of music sung by a singer and played by musicians who have seen too many nights, just like that emotionally isolated woman, driven by habit or need, underappreciated for their talents.  The irony that this song didn’t quite score a hit only underscores the sweet sadness of the song.  This is a pleasant surprise for me.

It was one of those nights

ELOLastTrainThen we have a compelling guitar riff backed by a suitably funky pace, and I think that we may have something special… until I realize it’s the perfectly nonsense “Last Train to London” by The Electric Light Orchestra (#39).  It baffles me how anyone took the grating falsetto vocals (“I really want tonight to last forever!”) that epitomized disco seriously, particularly when they’re delivering totally uninspired lyrics (“I really want to be with you!”).  There are the requisite violin bursts and then what would be an utterly boring keyboard solo if it weren’t for the fact that it’s some sort of broken-glass orchestra noise they’re using, presaging how dance is going to merge with new wave soon.  There’s a last train to London, I’m not sure if he gets on it or stays with the girl he’s singing to, but I am sure I don’t much care.

I’m caring, sharing everything I’ve got

SantanaYouKNowThatILoveYouI somehow missed that Santana put out albums in the 80s, but given how uninspiring “You Know That I Love You” (#35) is, perhaps that’s not surprising.  There’s nothing here to suggest that this is the same musician who made “Oye Como Va” and “Black Magic Woman” the epitome of Latin rock.  How did Santana get so… uncool?  This is a lame, uninspired song that isn’t even worthy of being a fifth single off of a Cheap Trick album.  This was the only single off of Santana’s Marathon album, and that’s probably a good thing.

Please can I see you every day

VoicesCheapTrickSpeaking of Cheap Trick, here they are with “Voices” (#32), which is about as close to a stalker song as you can get without actually being a stalker song. I don’t normally like Cheap Trick because they feel sort of superficial and smarmy, making themselves out to be tougher than they are, but really just sounding like a light-weight Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers.  On this song it works, though, because the desperation of the protagonist goes well with that mock-tough, mock-sweet tone.  This guy is at one and the same time begging his girl to love him and trying to convince her by stating as fact that she does indeed love him.  Those voices in her ear should be telling her to back away slowly, but until Bon Jovi comes along, these guys and Journey are about the best you were going to get in the arena rock category, so I guess you have to make the most of it.

I like what you like

OJaysForeverMineWe’re not going to hear much from The O’Jays in the 1980s.  Their hey-day was the 60s and 70s, and there’s not going to be much room for the molasses-rich soul vocals they were soaking their records in. This is a shame because even when they’re singing scary lyrics like “don’t you ever think about leaving”, like they do here on “Forever Mine” (#28), they sound so dignified and smooth, like scarlet velvet.  And the passion with which he sings about how she exceeds all the loves he’s had in the past makes you feel it, you know, that she is something special. I don’t know that the singer and the object of his affection are made for each other the way he says, but the song makes you want to think that they are.

I kept the feelings to myself

FoghatThirdTime.pngAnother classic band we’re not going to see much of again is Foghat, whose clumsily titled “Third Time Lucky (First Time I Was a Fool)” hit #23.  I kind of wish they’d go into the details of the three loves this guy is singing about — once bitten, twice shy, third time lucky.  In the lyrics, the first time sounds like he’s a jerk, writing to her that he’d never forget her and now he can’t remember his name.  Maybe being a fool is treating her so badly.  But that doesn’t sound like he’s been bitten, but rather that he was doing the biting.  Whatever, I’m sure she’s fine.  Then the second time he’s too shy to act on his feelings, which is indeed a disaster… unless you’re a stalker like the guy in the Cheap Trick song, in which case maybe it’s better you keep your distance.  I mean, really, this week guys in the charts really come off as jerks:  stalkers, creepy seducers, and this guy who thinks that somehow he’s the victim of two love affairs, one of which didn’t happen and the other of which was his own insensitive fault.

And then there’s “I Want to Be Your Lover” by Prince at #11, which I’ll cover on its own.  And that’s an overview of 2 February 1980.

 

 

 

 

You got to leave this town

JourneyTooLtaeOn 26 January, 1980, “Too Late” by Journey peaked at #90.

I don’t often think critically about Journey, mainly because I’m not convinced there’s much there to be thinking about, and “Too Late” isn’t doing the band much service in changing my opinion.  It was a perfectly competent ballad for the romantic roller skating crowd, and even has a halfway-interesting guitar solo, but the package as a whole just comes off as, well, nondescript.  It’s about someone leaving a small town because there’s too much baggage there.  Who knows where they’re going or why, or what anybody else thinks about it, other than that it’s not too late yet, and hey, that’s a good enough idea for a song if ever there was one.  Never mind that this sort of get-out-of-Dodge running-from-your-past maneuver probably works a lot better in music than it does in real life, in music you don’t have to worry about the consequences, not if you’re just trying to fill out an album with some tracks that will tie together the two big singles.  You see, “Too Late” is the fourth single off of Evolution — their second album that did anything notable on the charts.  We all know how second albums are, and we all know how those later singles off those second albums are, so it would be unrealistic to have many expectations for this song; it’s actually kind of a miracle that this charted at all, even if at only #70.

Put me in your pocket

bullens_05_45_trust_me_a.gifOn 26 January, 1980, “Trust Meby Cindy Bullens peaked at #90.

Before I can talk about “Trust Me” at any length, I have to talk about Cindy Bullens first.  Cindy started as a backup singer; you can hear her on “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart” by Elton John and Kiki Dee and on a few songs from the Grease soundtrack. She had a few albums in the late 70s, had a family, and then put out a few more albums in the 90s and early 2000s, but only ever scored one singe — “Trust Me” — on the Hot 100.  Also, in the years leading up to 2102, she became a female-to-male transsexual, and renamed herself Cidny.  This makes it hard for me to use pronouns when talking about her, but, given that the song was written, performed, and recorded while Cidny was Cindy, I’m going to use the feminine pronouns when referring to her pre-transition career.

“Trust Me” is a pleasant surprise.  I was expecting something vapid like those songs she provided backup vocals for, and maybe at first blush “Trust Me” sounds like that — a standard romping torch song.  But the lyrics go a ways past what’s standard for the genre.  Its narrator is confronted with a suspicious lover, and sure she asserts her loyalty to him (or her, I guess) as we expect:  “I wouldn’t hurt you if my life depended on it,” and so on.  But she also addresses the lover’s insecurities, pointing out that he (or she) “got wounded in the war of hearts” and that Cindy’s there to care.  This song isn’t just heartfelt and earnest; it also looks into the feelings of someone other than the singer herself, which is something too few popular songs do.  Even Elton and Kiki can’t stop talking about themselves in “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart” enough to talk about what the other feels.  Great art is supposed to make us think new ideas, feel new feelings, and, presumably, build empathy.  A song like “Trust Me” goes further in doing that, and that’s refreshing.

From door to door and house to house

JeffStarshipJaneOn 19 January, 1980, “Jane” by Jefferson Starship peaked at #14.

Few classic rock bands can do what The Beatles did:  start out strong and popular and continually reinvent themselves while increasingly getting better and smarter as they go.  Instead, most top-tier bands start out strong and innovative, lose the innovation part and become simply solid if repetitive, and then either call it quits or peter out in a whimper of embarrassingly trite dreck.  Very few bands signal each stage the way Jefferson Airplane/Jefferson Starship/Starship did by literally changing their name every time they deteriorated in quality.  1980 finds them as Jefferson Starship, in their solid but not particularly impressive stage, performing the guitar-laden cowbell rocker “Jane“.

For what it’s worth, this is the style of classic rock that Foreigner and Journey were aspiring to recreate, and bands like Def Leppard were using as a launching point for creating metal.  “Jane” falls just this side of the line that delineates hard rock, what with its gentle lead-in keyboard, which meant it was going to get some mainstream radio play as well and being featured on the rock stations on the left side of the AM dial.  It was enough mainstream radio play to get “Jane” all the way into the top 15 — no mean feat amid all the generic disco and easy listening clogging up the airwaves.

“Jane” has a little bit of charm to it beyond its obvious rockingness.  It’s about a guy who thinks a girl’s playing hard-to-get, which in of itself isn’t all that special.  But the variation in the tone of the music complements the story nicely enough to make it feel like an actual story.  That gentle lead-in suggests this guy isn’t just frustrated with Jane because she’s not putting out — it suggests that there’s genuine sentiment underneath all that leather-clad angst.  And the little dancy interlude that starts at 1:40, about all those nights they were spending together because she didn’t know better… doesn’t it sound like suddenly the song has moved to a discotheque where those nights together took place?  It’s cleverer than the standard rockin’ angst song of its time, and for that it’s memorable.

The inspiration, the ladies’ delight

tom-johnston-savannah-nights-warner-bros-2.jpgOn 19 January, 1980, “Savannah Nightsby Tom Johnston peaked at #50.

Often an artist will leave a band for a solo career exploring all sorts of music that, as part of a band with a brand, that musician couldn’t really experiment with.  That’s not what’s going on with Tom Johnston.  No, Tom Johnston wandered off from the Doobie Brothers to make music that sounds a lot like the Doobie Brothers; “Savannah Nights” is no exception.  I’m not complaining, though:  the Doobie Brothers sound is infectious.  It’s smarter and better crafted than most other light rock, and it’s hard to not want to get up and dance when you hear that characteristic smooth brassy funk sound.  “Savannah Nights” has a particularly swank breakdown starting around 2:24 that makes my spine want to slip and glide.  Lyrically, it’s about a smooth operator picking up a shy chick at a dance club in Georgia (sure, why not?).  He’s a much smoother (and faster, and funkier) version of the guy in Rod Stewart’s “Do Ya Think I’m Sexy?”  Come to think of it, why were people even listening to “Do Ya Think I’m Sexy” when they could have been listening to “Savannah Nights”?  Perhaps there’s only so much room in the public consciousness for music that sounds like the Doobie Brothers; they had five top-40 hits in 1979 and 1980, which is rather a lot for such an immediately recognizable band.

Hey, hit the highway

CougarLoverOn 12 January 1980, “I Need a Lover” by John Cougar Melloncamp was at #69. It peaked in1979 at #28. 

I don’t know whether to be annoyed or inwardly impressed by the lyrics to “I Need a Lover“.  On the one hand, for a guy in a dead-end existence, living his life out in pool rooms and a hole of an apartment, to think that part of the solution is finding some chick who will go away after getting it on with him is at best misguided. The sex might be fun and all, but it’s not going to help him get anything in order.  On the other hand, at least he’s honest about what he wants. He’s frustrated and lonely and while he’s sorting things out, he just wants some action, you know?  It’s not even like he’s complaining about women (which you might expect from a song whose refrain is “I want a lover who won’t drive me crazy”). I was expecting this song to be a litany of complaints about the women who have messed up his life, sort of a tamer version of Warren Zevon’s “Poor, Poor Pitiful Me“.  No, he’s just not interested in commitment, which isn’t a horrible thing, so long as he’s honest about it to people other than himself.  It’s hard to tell if he is, given the roller-coaster ride of an intro:  that seems to signal a lot of shifting emotions going from expectation to disappointment.  But let’s not judge; let’s just hope that this guy gets on with his life and finds a better place.  As for Melloncamp himself — this was his first top 40 hit, and he’s set for quite a lot more, so no need to worry about him.