And here's a question for you: can you call it a "comeback" if you actually weren't that big to begin with? Eddie Money probably didn't care what people called it as long it put some of, you know, his own name in the bank account.
He needed a single that summoned up the appropriate aura of '80s late night urban desperation and Wagnerian malaise. Initially, "Take Me Home Tonight" doesn't sound like that single, with its generic stew of mushy keyboards and jangly-but-not-quite-jangly-enough guitar, followed by a mood-setting "Oh-ohhh-ooooh-oh-wuh-ohhh" and an imitation Asian synth lick. What the hell is this, the Vapors' "Turning Japanese"? In enters the man of the hour, sounding like your neighborhood Springsteen-with-a-meth-addiction, and apparently he hasn't eaten all day:
I feel a hunger, it's a hungerDude, find a Sizzler. Or a Denny's.
That tries to keep a man awake at night
Are you the answer? I shouldn't wonder
When I feel you whet my appetite
With all the power you're releasingEddie, this town rips the bones from your back, it's a death trap, it's a suicide rap, you gotta get out while you're young ... wait, never mind. The point is, Eddie isn't hungry for food, or even meth: he's hungry for escape. The bridge suggests the promise of change, of that glimpse of something better just around the corner, complete with tacky echo on "faster," but based on what you've heard so far, you know, come on, how much better could it really be? You're figuring Eddie Money probably doesn't have it in him.
It isn't safe to walk the city streets alone
Anticipation's running through me
Let's find the key and turn this engine on
I can feel you breathe
I can feel your heart beat faster
But wrong you are. Right at the 1:02 mark, he delivers the goods. Oh SHIIIIT. YEAHHH BABY. That is what I'm talkin' about. You thought you had a chorus? That ain't a chorus. This is a chorus. Those guitar chords are like the sound of an American flag making love to a Harley-Davidson ... on the White House lawn. It's Eddie Money reaching deep down inside himself, knowing that nothing less than the catchiest, most anthemic chorus in the world could salvage the shattered remnants of his pathetic career, and it's sitting right there in his pocket, and he's like, "You think I'm all out of bar band hooks, don't you? Don't you? Well get a load of this." It is, if you will, the song's "Money" shot.
Actually, he didn't write the song, and he didn't even like the song. But he did have one suggestion: if they were going to do an interpolation of "Be My Baby," they might as well get the original singer of "Be My Baby" to sing it.
And just what was Ronnie Spector up to anyways? She had last been seen in the mid-'70s, fleeing the infamous mansion of her soon-to-be ex-husband, where she had reportedly been held hostage in her own home for years on end, not even allowed to pick up the groceries. Guess it's hard to focus on your recording career when you're recovering from the trauma of a marriage to Phil Spector, you know? According to Wikipedia, in 1986, Eddie Money called her and asked her what she was doing. She answered, "Washing the dishes."
So that's the thing. This chorus is already soaring like a bald eagle that's just inhaled a tank of liberty helium, and then suddenly, out of nowhere, Ronnie comes in, taking you back to those hot summer days on a Brooklyn street corner, playing stickball and beating up some Italian kid with a trashcan lid. It's like the flavor of the "new" (slickly-produced '80s arena rock) with a sprinkling of the "old" (critically unimpeachable early '60s girl group pop). You can't lose.
And if you're going to reference an oldie like that, why be subtle about it? At 2:22, not only does Ronnie come back in, but also the "Be My Baby" drumbeat, and even the damn castanets! At this point you're probably thinking to yourself, "Yeah, that's all pretty solid, but what this song really needs right now is for all the instruments to just suddenly drop out, and then all we'd hear is that sweet, sweet chorus again, with Eddie's shaggy dog wail and that crunchy-ass riff."
The fade-out features the former Miss Veronica Bennett double-tracking her vocals and performing just about every aspect of the "Be My Baby" chorus she hasn't already touched. Rock 'n' Roll never dies, all right - it just cashes in on cheap oldies nostalgia. "Take Me Home Tonight" found a home at #4 on the Hot 100.
The video looks like it was filmed in between bouts at a boxing arena, with all the budget "Eddie" money perhaps going toward the (admittedly appealing) black and white film stock. Are Eddie and Ronnie about to face off in the ring? If so, personally, my money's on Eddie. At first it seems like one of those videos where the two performers had scheduling issues and couldn't appear on the set at the same time: Ronnie sits in the dressing room, putting out her cigarette butt with her shoe, while Eddie fondles a ladder on stage. We see her slinking her way down the hallway in silhouette, shrouded in smoke. The massive door of the arena begins to lift. Who's that ghostly figure in the darkness - E.T.? Finally, at 2:42, we get a close-up. It's Ronnie! She made it! Well of course she made it, what the hell else was she doing, washing the dishes? Still, you never quite see them standing together. I'm thinking they might have used a double in the long shots. Also note: Eddie apparently does his own sax duty. Check out the whirlwind montage at about 2:33, where singer blows into saxophone, rips open shirt, grabs saxophone (which somehow is not in his hands anymore?), hoists saxophone, and lets the chorus fly. Soak it in, Eddie: this time you've truly earned your financial sobriquet.