Song Of The Day 7/21/2015: Ambrosia – “If Heaven Could Find Me”

Yacht Rock Underground – Ambrosia’s not just a cloying dessert that abuses coconut shavings: They are nothing short of yacht rock pillars! Whereas many yachters flung out one or two aires moistened in the salty sea, Ambrosia hit the ground floating – they had three: “How Much I Feel,” “Biggest Part of Me” and “You’re the Only Woman.” All of them were rich, auburn mash notes to contemporary women dressed in cowl-neck sweaters and, when they were feeling avant-garde, Annie Hall duds. The men, as usual, dawdled around the light fantastic with hair ringlets. I can’t over-emphasize the hair ringlets.

Like Gino Vannelli from yesterday – and like a surprising number of other yacht rockers and their philosophical descendants like latter-day Genesis – Ambrosia cut their teeth on the prog rock. One of their earliest hits was “Nice, Nice, Very Nice,” the lyrics of which were cribbed from Kurt Vonnegut’s novel Cat’s Cradle, which I coincidentally read over this last 4th of July weekend. In the book, which mostly takes place on a fictional island in the Caribbean, “Nice, Nice, Very Nice” is one of the calypso-styled “hymns” created by Bokonon, the founder of the Bokononism religion. In their recording Ambrosia mimicked the island patois of calypso singers, just to show their faultless attention to literary detail. Top that, Vannelli! Vonnegut himself was apparently quite taken with Ambrosia’s salute and approved their giving him co-writing credit on the song. If only they’d gone to my alma mater, The Evergreen State College. Getting co-authorship with Vonnegut would equal about a full year of credit there, I expect. Especially if they did it in a hydroponic greenhouse.*

But with 1978’s “How Much I Feel,” a genteel love song until its uncomfortably unctuous last verse (“Sometimes when we make love I sti-i-ill see your fa-a-a-ace!” – ew), Ambrosia eased into the bucket seat of adult contemporary. They were creamy. I don’t know how else to describe their songs. They were like mottled cream. Today’s cut comes from the same album that “How Much I Feel” was on, called Life Beyond L.A. In 1980 they released the album One Eighty, so titled because it represented a 180-degree turn from their heretofore established musical aesthetic. It was actually closer to 65 degrees, but try telling the girls in the cowl-necked sweaters you just did a 65-degree turnaround. They’ll laugh you right off the dinghy.

*That would be better than what Rodney Dangerfield got.

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