Song Of The Day 7/8/2016: Odyssey – “Use It Up and Wear It Out”

British Hits, American Misses II – Odyssey was the dance group who had a breakthrough hit with "Native New Yorker," which remains one of my favorite disco songs of all time. Beneath the off-beat, distantly Latin drum pattern and the shimmering vocals "Native New Yorker" is a well-written song about an actual human being. It took the stereotype of the raised-on-the-streets, tough New Yawk type and wedded it to a fleeting moment of bonafide melancholy. The only flaw is a brief keyboard line towards the end of the introduction that just sounds a little too much like the bed music for The Love Boat, but it's over in 15 seconds and that's a small factor.

"Native New Yorker" was Odyssey's only American hit, but in the UK they racked up five Top Ten hits between 1977 and 1981. "Use It Up and Wear It Out" hit #1 in England in 1980. As with "Native New Yorker" there's something a little atilt about it. Maybe it's the verse built on a two-chord interval that could not be any simpler. Or it's that diminished chord they throw at you in the tail end of the chorus. Or it's that seemingly throwaway refrain that takes on an additional coat of existentialism if you go back and listen to it more carefully: "Ain't nothin' left in this whole world I care about." That's the neatest piece of thematic trickery in a disco song since Chic suggested the decline of the American working class could be fixed with "claims on the half-shell and roller skates." I'm not being sarcastic.

Popular Recent Posts