A Well-Balanced Breakfast With Supertramp*

June 18, 2011

I’ve been hoping for a Supertramp revival since the use of Goodbye Stranger in the movie Magnolia.

Oh, my devotion to them isn’t slavish. In truth, it’s rather limited. Their more progressive stuff doesn’t move me and it’s not simply because it’s progressive.

(I fully admit to having dabbled in progressive rock, but that flirtation was mostly limited to Marillion in the early ’80s. I’ve had the chance to drink with their former lead singer Fish on a handful of occasions and, I assure you, to walk into a pub in Edinburgh with the man is akin to walking into Cheers with Norm…I digress)

My meager devotion to Supertramp is to about a half-dozen songs and the Breakfast In America album. When that band worked, they were capable of producing a nearly perfect pop song and almost every track on Breakfast In America works.

(I seem to recall Oh Darling being the only song which I ever skipped).

Not only is the music worth the price of admission, Breakfast In America has an album cover that always makes me smile – a jovial waitress, menu in hand and orange juice at the ready.

(her name has to be Bev)

Bev simply looks like someone that would deliver a well-balanced breakfast.

Remember the commercials during Saturday morning cartoons in the ’70s for cereals when they would conclude with a shot of the “balanced breakfast” consisting of said cereal, juice, milk, bacon, eggs, sausage, pancakes, waffles, fruit, and an entire pot roast?

Did that ever strike anyone else as a lot of food?

Pop Tarts, in their commercials, were touted as something to accompany a “balanced breakfast.”

Personally, I have long been a fan of Pop Tarts. They’re magically delicious and their simplicity is a stroke of genius. When traveling abroad or even ‘cross town, I always keep Pop Tarts in my backpack for those unexpected twists in the road.

I also admire the way that Kellogg’s has steadfastly unveiled new flavors to a salivating public.

Remember the early days of Pop Tarts when they only came with fruit fillings? You could kind of pretend that they were healthy.

Well, somewhere along the line they just said to hell with that.

Hot Fudge Sundae Pop Tarts?

Yeah, who doesn’t love sundaes?

Fudge Chocolate, Chocolate-Filled, Chocolate Chip Pop Tarts?

Why not?

Frosted Cookies And Creme With Bacon Bits Pop Tarts?

We’ve almost reached a pre-fabricated food moment of such goodness as I know that there is now Cake Batter Pop Tarts.

Sometimes I get concerned that I don’t take things seriously enough. You know, stuff like God, evolution, evil neo-cons, evil liberals, paper or plastic, and such.

Then, I realized that Pop Tarts are something that I truly feel passionate about.

And sometimes Supertramp.

Here are four songs from Supertramp…

Supertramp – Give A Little Bit
from Classics

Not even incessant commercials for The Gap (wasn’t it The Gap?), could make me sick of Give A Little Bit.

Like so many Supertramp songs, it sounds like a nursery rhyme and it does have a lovely sentiment. Of course, my fairly staunch anti-human stance keeps me from getting carried away by the lovely sentiment and, then, I simply space out and bob my head to the pretty melody and music.

Supertramp – The Logical Song
from Breakfast In America

Effortlessly, Supertramp manages to sound positively giddy (I suppose it is a giddy tinged with melancholy) as they sing of conscription into a lifetime of conformity where banality can be a ticket to success.

Supertramp – Take The Long Way Home
from Classics

Sadly, after singing its praises, I realize that I do not have several tracks from Breakfast In America ripped individually (and I’m jonesing to hear Gone Hollywood, Lord Is It Mine and Child Of Vision) and, unfortunately, the only version of Take The Long Way Home I own is the single version with the edited intro.

Supertramp – Breakfast In America
from Breakfast In America

Apparently, Roger Hodgson feels his girlfriend has less than fulfilled her girlfriend potential, but God help you if he catches you checking her out. However, he seems to be quite fond of kippers (add kippers to the well-balanced breakfast, Bev), so the mind boggles at what hell might rain down on the scoundrel who takes his kippers.

Supertramp – Cannonball
from Brother Where You Bound

I had to include a fifth song today (Paloma encouraged me – “It’s Supertramp”) and that fifth song had to be Cannonball.

Sure, it’s a snappy tune with quite a bit of pep, but it also earns my appreciation for…you really need to see the song’s video and, I assure you that, unless you are feeding starving children, negotiating peace in the Middle East, or napping, you will not use four minutes and fifty-seven seconds more productively today…

Supertramp – Cannonball

Cannonball is simply the greatest caveman music video I have ever seen.

I find his determination as he runs down the interstate inspiring.

Truly.

But what the hell am I meant to take from this video?

I think it’s that our ancient ancestors gave us art, fire, an inborn protectiveness toward crockery rivaled only by the protectiveness Roger Hodgson has toward his kippers, and a primordial affection for Supertramp that lives on in our DNA.

If so, there might be hope for the humans, yet.

*originally posted on June 26, 2008 and regurgitated for your pleasure


Fall Break

October 17, 2009

moody-autumn-skyI always believed that fall break was one of the most inspired things. It wasn’t as lengthy as spring break – a mere Thursday and Friday – but it’s placement in the school year was almost flawless.

It usually fell in late October, a week or so before Halloween, half the way between the start of the school year and Christmas break. It was far enough into the semester that the hopeless feeling that the school year would never end had set in, but scattered warm days of Indian summer were reminders of the summer past.

There are a couple schools I pass on the morning commute to work each day. They all have some kind of message board at the front of the school, marquee letters announcing football games and such.

I’ve started seeing dates for fall breaks.

I keep thinking of the fall break in 1984. It was the first fall break where my friends and I all had licenses. Acquiring a vehicle, though, sometimes demanded nimble gamesmanship and negotiation with parents or an older sibling.

I think it was my pyro friend who had snagged his older brother’s car. Another friend, Bosco, had joined us, but, as the pyro hadn’t actually obtained consent to have the car, there had been no time to track anyone else down.

We headed to the city – Cincinnati – and an hour later we were rifling through the racks at a record store. Bosco, an obsessive fan of The Tubes, was determined to snag the recently released solo album by the band’s front man Fee Waybill.

Bosco eventually purchased the album at a Record Bar in the mall from a clerk whom he dubbed “DLR” as the kid had adopted the look of Van Halen’s lead singer. We ended up taking the purchase to a stereo shop where Bosco peeled open the shrink-wrap and we listened to the record on a display system (at least until we were asked to leave).

I remember vividly the overcast skies – much like today – that day, but it was far warmer than it is here, now, where it feels as though we’ve skipped directly from September to November. I seem to recall the sun breaking through a bit on the drive home.

I’m less certain of what music I purchased that day, though I have no doubt that I returned home that evening with several new cassettes. Here’s a quartet of tracks from albums that I very well might have snagged on that break in the autumn of 1984…

INXS – Burn For You
from The Swing

I hadn’t been a fan of INXS’ American debut from the year before, although I thought (and still think) the song Don’t Change is brilliant. And, by the fall of ’84, their second album, The Swing, had been out since the spring.

However, during the summer, another friend had bought INXS’ entire catalog (including earlier Australian releases that were only available to us as imports) and I had become a fan thanks to his incessant playing of the band. Also, our town finally had MTV and the video for the slinky, soulful Burn For You was getting a lot of play that fall.

Roger Hodgson – Had A Dream (Sleeping With The Enemy)
from In The Eye Of The Storm

If you have followed my babbling on this site, you might be well aware of my affection for Supertramp (at least Breakfast In America). By 1984, founding member Roger Hogdson had left the band for a solo career that didn’t exactly pan out.

Had A Dream (Sleeping With The Enemy) got some airplay on some of the stations to which I listened. In truth, it could have been on Breakfast In America and not sounded out of place.

The Fixx – Less Cities, More Moving People
from Phantoms

I think I always liked The Fixx in theory better than execution. Everything was in place – cool name, cool futuristic vibe – for them to be a favorite, except consistently good songs. Aside from Reach The Beach, their albums were maddeningly hit or miss to me.

Not that I gave up trying to embrace them. Although I didn’t like Are We Ourselves?, the first hit from Phantoms, I gave the album a shot nonetheless (and was disappointed). But, there were a couple of worthwhile tracks like the twitchy, shuffling Less Cities, More Moving People.

.38 Special – Teacher Teacher
from Teachers soundtrack

.38 Special was from the South and they were a rock band, but, despite being labeled at times as a Southern rock band, they never really struck me as belonging in that genre. Maybe it’s because I wasn’t a big fan of Southern rock and I liked a lot of .38 Special (or, at least the hits in the early ’80s).

Of course, the band was a staple on a lot of the stations in the Midwest, so maybe it was a familiarity thing, but Teacher Teacher was catchy, straight-ahead rock with a punchy chorus and plenty of guitars. I know that we caught the movie Teachers on one of our treks to the city. As we were in high school at the time, it resonated with us, though, for some reason, I don’t think I’ve happened across it since seeing it in the theater.


Baseball

July 16, 2009

For the first time in I have no idea how many years, I watched the MLB All-Star game the other night. It surprised me a bit to realize how rarely I’ve watched the game in the last twenty years.

I stared quizzically at half of the players during this year’s introductions as though I was trying to identify someone from a police line-up.

As a kid, the All-Star game was appointment viewing. We knew all of the players and most of us could rattle of a relevant stat or two.

In a world where summer had no internet, no mp3 players, only the most rudimentary of video games, and no cable television, baseball was often our favorite waste of time.

By ten o’clock in the morning, most mornings, the first pick-up game in our neighborhood would have already ended (usually in an argument, sometimes to steal strawberries from the patch out beyond our first base line).

The afternoon game that would come together (once tempers cooled and boredom set in) was like an Ironman competition and a test to merely endure in 95 degree heat.

Over the years, my interest in the sport has waned. I think it’s mostly due to the disparity in spending between the teams.

But it’s also football. Now, even in the middle of July, my focus is not on baseball but rather that my favorite team has signed some free agent linebacker and how that signing might affect a season that won’t really be underway for another three months.

It’s an onslaught of information that is, in the middle of summer, mostly empty calories. Even a dedicated fan doesn’t need to be so in the loop (and, if you do, you might have a serious gambling problem).

The first All-Star game that I vividly remember was 1979. Maybe it’s because my grandfather, a lifelong Pittsburgh fan, had passed away a few months earlier.

Almost every evening during baseball season, he’d sit on the couch with my grandmother. They’d hold hands and watch the Pirates on television or listen to them on radio.

(that autumn, the team would win the World Series in dramatic fashion)

Baseball was far more important to me than music in 1979, but perusing the Billboard charts from July of that year revealed a number of songs that, even as a casual listener, I recall hearing…

John Stewart (with Stevie Nicks) – Gold
from Bombs Away Dream Babies

The man who wrote Daydream Believer, Stewart was joined by Lindsay Buckingham and Stevie Nicks on the timeless-sounding Gold. It’s a pretty perfect pop song.

If Paloma and I ever open up a bait shop in the Southwest (I always pictured this song taking place on some dusty, desolate stretch of road in Arizona), I’d insist this song be on the jukebox.

The Knack- My Sharona
from Get The Knack

I had little interest in music in ’79, but, like all of us, I knew My Sharona. I don’t recall the mania surrounding them or the backlash, but I’ve wondered if it was similar to Oasis a decade and a half later.

Joe Jackson – Is She Really Going Out With Him?
from Look Sharp!

OK, I can’t honestly say that I ever heard Is She Really Going Out With Him? at the time. In fact, I’m positively certain that I didn’t hear it ’til several years later after Jackson had hit with Steppin’ Out.

Better late than never, though, and Is She Really Going Out With Him? is classic stuff.

Supertramp – Goodbye Stranger
from Breakfast In America

I’ve declared my affection for Breakfast In America before. But, as a non-music fan in 1979, I thought Goodbye Stranger was the brothers Gibb.