the 80s were often silly times, musically speaking. but there is inherent silliness, methinks, in a lot of music from the 70s (music that now resides mostly on office radio stations and in elevators). that’s around the time band members really started embracing the term artist. yes, a word to describe geniuses like pablo picasso (who was never called an asshole) and my fave, paul cezanne (the father of cubism) was now being bandied about by people to describe people like leo sayer.
there’s something inherently silly about thinking this is serious art. (sorry, OTC. i know that’s a fave of yours.) enjoy it, sure. and i suppose it is art because it simply exists. but don’t get all hoity-toity and pretentious with me. it’s a hershey kiss when what i really want is some serious belgian chocolate or at least a little cadbury imported from england. i like hershey’s, but it’s not exactly what i want on most days.
but today is guilty pleasure monday, so i’ll tell you want i want. (what i really really want.) magnet and steel by walter egan. back in the day, the best way to get a song plugged into sales overdrive was to get some heavy-duty backup singers; and that’s what seems to have happened with this little gem. i think both stevie nicks and lindsey buckingham sing backup on this puppy — you certainly can hear stevie nicks, no problem. i love the way the song lazily propels itself forward, kind of like BC on a school morning when she dawdles to get dressed, eat breakfast, and get her backpack together before she ends up late.
anyway, i love this song precisely because it sounds so 1950ish with a slow rock groove, only to get all 1970s with the bridge/chorus, then revert. the bells, which you can hear if you listen reallyreally closely in that part, add a sort of sonic rainbow. (anyone else feel the love? groovy.)
and, if nothing else, the lyric you are the magnet and i am the steel is just a terribly clever pickup line. i’m imagining guys in leisure suits or mid-70s bellbottomed coolness using this and probably succeeding.
while walter egan is still quite active — apparently, he is teaching a popular music course at georgetown — i don’t think he ever had another hit. (please correct me if i am wrong.) i wonder if anyone else remembers this song. anyone under the age of 40ish, that is.
ars longa; vita brevis.
sigh. i suppose as long as there are light rock stations gently lulling office workers into a midafternoon daze, there will always be a home for a lot of 1970s top 40 fodder, stuff that people probably, at the time, thought was work that would stand the test of time as seriously important, especially with two members of fleetwood mac tied on for good measure. like this one. even if it’s not great art, you can still dance to it.
s l o w l y.