Tuesday, September 6, 2011

City Boy -- "Goodbye Blue Monday" (1976)

You never guessed that 
I was in it for the bread 
I only played to get ahead 
See where the hype has finally led

(I have to admit it -- those lyrics hit a little close to home for 2 or 3 lines, don't they?)

City Boy was one of my favorite bands when I was in law school.  I'm pretty sure I've gone at least 30 years without listening to the three City Boy LPs I own.

I'm a little embarrassed to admit that I bought not one, not two, but three City Boy albums.  Probably not as embarrassed as I should be -- and certainly not embarrassed enough to limit myself to only one City Boy post.  (I'm going to do two -- maybe even three.)  

Those three LPs were released in 1976, 1976, and 1977 -- or during my penultimate and ultimate years at law school.  

Sorry to be a showoff, boys and girls, but "penultimate" is one of my favorite words, and I use it whenever I have the chance.  

Another of my favorite words is "eponymous," of course, and City Boy's first album was an eponymous one.  But this song is off their second album, Dinner at the Ritz.

Several of the members of City Boy were playing folk music in the Birmingham, England area when a record company offered them a contract if they changed their name (which was "Back In The Band") and added drums and electric guitar to their wussy acoustic lineup.

I find that very interesting.  Why would a record company sign a band on the condition that it radically change its musical style?  If you're looking for a rock band, why not sign a rock band?  Why sign a folk group and tell them they have to add a drummer and get rid of the acoustic guitars and switch to electric guitars?

Like 10cc, Sparks, and the Tubes -- other favorites of mine from that era -- City Boy was notable for its arch, too-clever-by-half lyrics, catchy tunes, and gorgeous, lush harmonies.    Most of its songs are really two or three songs that have been unnaturally stitched together.  

All these bands had musical ADHD.  They were capable of coming up with lots of appealing hooks, but seemed to become bored easily.  After a minute or so -- just as the song was starting to grow on you -- they would abruptly segue into something that sounded completely different.   

Their music most definitely did not "rock."  Rather than settling into a steady, you-can-dance-to-it groove, they preferred tempo changes and irregular time signatures that added or skipped a beat just when you weren't expecting it.    

I'm guessing that 99% of their record sales were to males -- I think most women would prefer music that had a little more feeling and emotion.  (I don't claim to be an expert on women, but I think I understand the way their minds work at least as well as the average male does -- that is to say, not at all.)

The lyrics to "Goodbye Blue Monday" seem to have something to do with a performer deciding to thumb his nose at the world and get out of the limelight -- the press and the fans and the travel and all the craziness that goes along with being a star has become just too much for the poor man.

There are a lot of rock songs that are about being a rock star.  Self-pity is the primary theme of most of those songs -- "If you only knew what we stars have to put up with, you'd understand why we act like jerks and take lots of drugs," etc., etc.

Here's a link you can use to buy this song from Amazon:

No comments:

Post a Comment