Sunday, June 10, 2012

A Washed Up America Creates One Last Piece Of Pop "Magic"

No, I'm not talking about our great nation; I'm talking about '70s soft rock juggernauts America. Yes, they named themselves America. There's a well-acknowledged rule among rock critics: don't name yourself after a big, impersonal place. See: Boston, Kansas, Chicago, Europe, Asia, etc. Besides, America didn't sound "American" so much as Californian. They should have called themselves "Southern California." But that probably didn't fit on the t-shirt.

At their peak, America were like Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young with a lobotomy. The sound was there, but the lyrics probably needed some work. "A Horse With No Name," "Ventura Highway," "Sister Golden Hair," "Tin Man," "Lonely People" - if you didn't care for lyrics, then America were the greatest band in the world. But try these on for size: "The heat was hot and the ground was dry"; "Ain't it foggy outside/Guess the planes have all been grounded/Ain't the fire inside/Let's all go stand around it"; "But Oz never gave nothing to the Tin Man/That he didn't already have/And cause never was a reason for the evening/Or the Tropic of Sir Galahad." Say what? I mean, if they had been trying to be a weird, arty band, this would have made sense. But they were trying to be Seals & Crofts.

By 1982, the only thing America were trying to be was relevant. Life on the county fair circuit surely awaited them, when suddenly, out of nowhere they pulled a tasty little rabbit out of the Yacht Rock hat.

America sure did "magic" all right. They "magically" resuscitated their career.  Which would swiftly die soon after. For real this time. But hey, they sure showed everybody they still had that one extra hit in them!

Here they are, performing on what appears to be a "magic" cloud. Gerry Buckley looks like the local high school math teacher, while Dewey Bunnell apparently just came back from a sailing adventure with Popeye. Also, a little known fact: before becoming a stand-up comedian, Jeff Foxworthy used to be the drummer for America.

"You Can Do Magic" was one of many late '70s/early '80s songs about magic: Pilot's "Magic," Olivia Newton-John's "Magic," the Cars' "Magic," just to name a few. Ah, but not only was America's song imaginatively titled "You Can Do Magic," it also had that spectacular little chiming sound that made a special little "ding" every time the word "magic" was sung. Try to out-magic that, fuckers!


Herr Zrbo said...

What, Steve Miller's 'Abracadabra' wasn't good enough for your list?

Little Earl said...

I wanna reach out and grab ya!

Another artist who could definitely go toe to toe with America in the "memorably bad" lyrics department.