There was a rather dubious idea going around a few years back: ‘Guilty pleasures’, those records that you like but don’t feel you could admit to in polite (or cool) company. This is one: ‘Never let her slip away’ by Andrew Gold, and I think it’s bloody marvelous. So there.
I’m not sure if there is something wrong about having a proper tune, or merely that the pop music of the 70’s is somehow embarrassing. Fair enough, there was some absolute dross released in that decade, but there is dross in every decade. I lived through the 80’s, and I’m still in therapy for that accidental slap-bass overdose I suffered in 1983.
I don’t remember Dad playing this at the time (I would have just turned 7) but then I don’t recall Mum singing ‘Summertime’ to me as a baby, and I grew up to love that song. Who knows what lies buried in the subconscious for that day in your mid-forties, when Dad drops off three large boxes of vinyl?
This has a tune, a proper melody, like proper songwriters write: it snakes about, it gently soars, it changes key (slightly*), and importantly it is a love song with lyrics that don’t make you want to be sick.
I think one of the reasons it works is that it’s not addressed to the object of his affection, which is usually a recipe for disaster (and nausea) – “I talked to my baby on the telephone long-distance, I never would have guessed I could miss someone so bad” – he sings, wistfully, over major-seventh chords. And I’m a big fan of wistful, and major-seventh chords. He continues – “I’m a little bit dizzy, I’m a little bit scared, I never felt this much aware, that I love her..” – and I’m reliably informed that love is in fact a bit like that.
When I first put this single on my nearly-new record deck, my memory told me to expect some electric piano. I thought there was a law that all singer-songwriters had to play electric piano in the 70’s, but it seems I was wrong.
This starts with a lovely crunchy drum machine shuffle rhythm – ahead of its time in a way – and then instead of the Fender Rhodes I was expecting, I get warm polyphonic synthesizers (an Oberheim or a Prophet 5, maybe?) playing the chords and the bass line. The record is warm and open sounding**. Lovely. He’s not trying to be cool, or edgy or any of that crap.
This is a feel-good record.
What better reason to listen to music, ’cause it’s good for you, and it would really make you happy?
*Ok, technically a modulation but you didn’t come here for lessons in music theory , did you?
**We get some great backing vocals as the song develops – fantastic doo-wop style falsetto on the second chorus – which are alleged to be by Freddie Mercury, although other sites contradict Wikipedia by claiming it is Timothy Schmidt and JD Souther.***
***Queen were one of the first bands I got into, I know some of the early stuff inside-out, and I know Freddie would have easily sung these complex multi-part harmonies, and he was a friend of Andrew Gold, but the voices just don’t sound like him. Unless he was deliberately trying to not sound like himself. Oh, I don’t know.