Rock You Like A Warm, Gentle Spring Shower

October 9, 2008

Like every person for whom music is essential to their happiness, Paloma and I both have fairly eclectic tastes. However, since we have begun to collect vinyl, there does seem to be some strange gravitational pull toward all things mellow.

Our first day rifling through bins of albums, yielded Blondie, Randy Newman and Pink Floyd, but also among those early purchases were Christopher Cross, Art Garfunkel and Bread. Paloma has been heard to declare, to even her surprise, “I’m a Gino Vannelli fan.”

I have been dumbfounded upon realizing the influence Christopher Cross has had on my own life. What in the name of Seals & Croft is going on?

Maybe it’s because the ‘70s was a heyday for soft rock and singer/songwriters and there’s a lot of vinyl from that time period. After seeing so many copies of Pablo Cruise albums while working your way to Prince, you eventually say, “What the hell? It’s one dollar.”

But I suspect the association of mellow pop with childhood is a large part of the appeal. The world might have been scary at nine, but maybe there was also a bit more hope and faith that there were infinite possibilities.

And maybe throwing on an America album is the shortest path back there.

America – A Horse With No Name
You know, listening to their songs an album side at a time, I’ve been surprised to note how many engaging melodies and songs America had during the early ’70s. Some of their lyrics are a bit puzzling, forced and sometimes cringe-inducing, but…

I remember hearing A Horse With No Name on the radio when it was a hit. It’s really one of the first big, hit songs that I recall as a young child. I also remember that it always seemed to be raining when I’d hear it on the car radio and, using the logic of a three-, four-year old, I felt the song’s desert setting was somehow connected to that rain.

Gilbert O’Sullivan – Alone Again (Naturally)
Pretty grim stuff, Mr. O’Sullivan. God only knows how I interpreted this song as a child. I imagine that I was too entranced by the nursery rhyme-like melody to ponder Gilbert’s existential angst.

Nicolette Larson – Lotta Love
Paloma never seems to tire of Lotta Love and I’m there with her.

I know the great Neil Young wrote Lotta Love, but I’m not sure if he ever recorded a version (if he has, I haven’t heard it). It certainly couldn’t have been the breezy delight which Larson’s take is (despite the protagonist drawing a line in the sand with her love).

Robbie Dupree – Hot Rod Hearts
Robbie Dupree arrived on the scene about the time I was discovering girls (which certainly must be considered childhood’s end). Dupree scored hits with Steal Away and Hot Rod Hearts before vanishing from the radio. According to Dupree’s All-Music Guide entry, the singer played clubs in Greenwich Village with Chic’s Nile Rodgers in the early ’70s.

And, did Michael McDonald guest on every soft rock – or, in the parlance of the times, yacht rock – album in the late ’70s/early ’80s? Furthermore, why do most yacht rockers resemble Kenny Loggins?