Song Of The Day 7/23/2015: Andrew Gold – “Never Let Her Slip Away”

Yacht Rock Underground – Andrew Gold (1951–2011), like Stephen Bishop from yesterday, might not really belong in this theme week. The session player and songwriter (and frequent Bishop collaborator) played on nearly everyone’s records in the 1970’s. I’d say his most indelible mark as a sideman was the background vocal stamp he provided on Linda Ronstadt’s hits of the time (“That’ll Be the Day” especially). As her arranger Gold was greatly responsible for the music of Ronstadt’s golden age in general.

In 1977 Gold had a hit song of his own called “Lonely Boy.” Let’s talk about “Lonely Boy.” It’s an off-kilter combination of California rock and Freudian psychoanalysis that’s at once immaculately constructed and patently ludicrous. It spins off a great piano hook, and then goes into the story of a guy whose childhood is traumatized because his parents have another kid after him. I have no doubt that this syndrome actually happens in American families (and I’m worried of my son Hank developing a case), but taking it out of its diagnostic setting and placing it to a ticking piece of epic rock just makes the neurosis sound even smaller than it already is. It’s one of those pop songs I dearly love, yet disagree with on an intellectual basis, like this one. Sometimes I argue with these types of songs, out loud. Which isn’t really a problem unless I forget I’m sitting at a bus stop.

Gold reeled off another hit with “Thank You For Being a Friend,” which as we all know was later seized and re-recorded as the theme to a TV sitcom about randy sexagenarians coping with the mean streets of Miami. (I honestly don’t think I’ve ever seen a single episode. Is that weird?) “Never Let Her Slip Away” was on the same album as “Thank You,” and it ventures far enough into the harbor of yacht rock that I feel it deserves the spotlight. Also, admittedly, I love this song. It’s kind of adventurous for the time: stripped down to nothing but the most basic beat, a nice pop hook played on a cutely primitive synthesizer, some very nice vocal arrangements and, because this is the late ’70s and there was a moon out, a saxophone. This saxophone does not have quite the same criminal intent as saxophones of the 1980’s, but boy does it play with matches.

Side note: Back when Foo Fighters were starting out, my partner at the time had a really pretty good idea that they should cover “Lonely Boy.” Normally I’d have taken the credit for the idea, but ETHICS IN MUSIC BLOGGING snort-snort. It was her idea. Anyway, I’m thrilled to have just found out that a couple of years ago on Marc Maron’s podcast, Dave Grohl not only indicated his great affection for Andrew Gold, but was thinking about putting out a double-sided 7-inch called Solid Gold with “Lonely Boy” on the A-side and “Never Let Her Slip Away” on the flip. Please, Lord, make that happen, and may Dave bring me down in his broken-leg guitar throne and have me play the piano riff. I’ll bring everyone a latté, which I’ve recently learned is an ethical form of bribery.
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