Post 201

No One is To Blame: The Inspired Song of 1986

1986 has one inspired song as well, and it’s not “That’s What Friends Are For.” Oh man – that’s what I call a Sock Puppet Song. Any song that has the words “Keep smilin,’ keep shinin’” needs to be shot, hey? On the one hand, I can’t believe it was the top song of 1986, but on the other hand, there wasn’t a whole lot of competition.

Ah – I don’t want to be so critical, but I’ve just stepped out of a cesspool of smut.

You go into a song remembering the good ol’ blue-jeans-boy image that some of these artists had, like Bruce Springsteen and Bryan Adams, and then you shake your head reading the dismal lyrics. I read that Rod Stewart was knighted. I’m not sure what the standards are for that prize (fame plus an English accent?), but he doesn’t strike me as a knight.

Oh well.

Once again, I wasn’t consulted.

And most female artists are quite obviously selling something other than their musical talents. It’s actually quite gory, and a damning reflection on the music show-biz industry. So I have come across inspired songs where the co-writers were female, but I haven’t so far found any inspired songs where the lead vocals were sung by a woman. I was hopeful when I heard the Bangles sing “Manic Monday,” which reminded me of Dolly Parton’s “Nine to Five,” but it didn’t quite make it. And I was hopeful for Annie Lennox’s songs too, but it wasn’t to be — not so far, anyway.

So I soldier on, wading through this muck, where about 90% of the songs are about having sex in The Very Near Future, and about 15% of that 90% are unquestionably about having adulterous sex. Reviewing the lyrics written or chosen by certain artists becomes predictably grim — I weary of the songs of Billy Ocean, Diana Ross, Lionel Ritchie, and Madonna. Tina Turner and George Michael were musically more captivating, but time and again, the songs failed the test. And yeesh, what’s wrong with this ‘Sheila E’?

With all these performers, you study the songs and you wonder. Are you telling me that you really don’t have ANY OTHER IDEAS about stuff to sing about? Really? Nothing else going on up there?


Double sigh.

I’m not saying that it’s impossible to have an inspired song about sex. It’s possible, in the same way that Scripture has a book called the Song of Songs, where breasts are compared with fruit. (What was it again? Pomegranates? Cantaloupes?)

It’s possible, but it’s not going to be the way it was in these songs of 1986. Even “Take My Breath Away” — which I had hoped would pass, in the Song of Songs sort of way — fell short of the mark.

Oh well, one day all of these smutty blights upon our culture will be forgotten. (I’m referring to the songs, not the people.) Things that are good stick around, and the rest just wither and disappear. (People have eternal souls; they never disappear.)

So sure, right now, the latest music seems to have the brightest future, but it doesn’t stay this way. Sure, right now, such-and-such a band seems to be quite a legend (it’s in the Crayola Hall of Fame, along with those pensioners Lemon Yellow and Violet Blue), but that kind of credential can only be mentioned so many times before your grandchildren begin to give each other knowing looks. Most people don’t care; they’re not keeping track of how many millions of albums were sold by that decades-old band.

None of that stuff matters at the end of the day, so it’s very unfortunate that lives are wrecked as people compromise themselves for a chance at fame. And it’s sad that aging singers stretch themselves to keep the spotlight just a little bit longer. I’m not saying that a singer who likes to sing is obliged to hide himself at a certain age — of course not — but I’m saying that fame shouldn’t be pursued. If it comes as a byproduct of doing something good, that’s fine. However, like money or status, it shouldn’t be sought as a goal in and of itself.

There are better things to do.

You could, for instance, make a pie.

(Pies are good, and I really very badly need to brag about me and my apple tree. This is the scoop: on October 4, I woke up and collected apples from the tree, and made a pie with them. It’s a combination apple tree, which means that as a result of grafting, the tree produces different varieties of apples. So I collected ’em, peeled and sliced them and so on and so forth. Pretty neat, hey? That’s my pie story.)

Or you could go out for dinner. I went to Uncle Ed’s the same day, and it was very good. I was cautioned, before going, against asking how Uncle Ed was doing. VigilantOne, I suppose, thought I might be the type to ask. He wanted to avoid An Awkward Moment.

You see, Ed Stawnichy passed away back in 2009. He was Polish, and if I’m remembering this right, his wife Jane is Ukrainian. She and her daughters are in charge now. The food was delicious and the restaurant was spotless. I highly recommend the place, if you happen to be in town.

You could take your bandmates there. The menu is clear and the photos are labelled.

Or you could go there alone, and if it’s cloudy or raining, you could look out the window while you have a bowl of hot borscht.

You could order pie for dessert.

Oh, sometimes I miss you so!

(I digress, again.)

So anyway, here we go . . .

The song from 1986.

No One Is to Blame — Howard Jones
(Lyrics: Howard Jones)

You can look at the menu, but you just can’t eat
You can feel the cushions, but you can’t have a seat
You can dip your foot in the pool, but you can’t have a swim
You can feel the punishment, but you can’t commit the sin

And you want her, and she wants you
We want everyone
And you want her and she wants you
No one, no one, no one ever is to blame

You can build a mansion, but you just can’t live in it
You’re the fastest runner but you’re not allowed to win
Some break the rules, and let you count the cost
The insecurity is the thing that won’t get lost

And you want her, and she wants you
We want everyone
And you want her, and she wants you
No one, no one, no one ever is to blame

You can see the summit but you can’t reach it
It’s the last piece of the puzzle but you just can’t make it fit
Doctor says you’re cured but you still feel the pain
Aspirations in the clouds but your hopes go down the drain

And you want her, and she wants you
We want everyone
And you want her, and she wants you
No one, no one, no one ever is to blame

No one ever is to blame
No one ever is to blame