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Friday, January 19, 2007


Velveeta Jukebox, Part VI: Separate Ways (Worlds Apart)

So, the original idea for this installment was to write about A-Ha's "Take on Me". It's a truly great 80s cheese pop tune and I love it. But then I realized that I don't really have all that much to say about it. My sister absolutely loved the video (as, I'm sure, did most girls her age). The video was one of a handful that were on a Video Jukebox in the food court of the Carnation Mall in Alliance, Ohio (birthplace of yours truly). An actual video jukebox. You put money in and it played a video. Not a concept that caught on until about twenty years later when you could do the whole thing on your computer instead of having to sit and watch in the middle of a goddamn food court.

Anyway, instead of trying to stretch such a thin entry out to a semi-respectable length, I've decided to scrap the idea (despite the "Next Time" line I wrote in the last Velveeta Jukebox which, I'm certain, has had thousands upon thousands of people waiting with baited breath for my thoughts on A-Ha) and I'm writing instead about a song I just down-loaded last night and which caught my ear as I was sitting on my homeward-bound 4 train this afternoon.

In my younger days, I knew a number of people who were fairly rabid Journey fans. Living in small-town Ohio in the 80s, the odds of this were heavily in your favor. My friend Dan was very much into the band when we were in high school. He was a guitar-rock guy in general and actually fronted the one and only garage band in Berlin Center. They were called Curfew and they played our high school's Christmas show one year and followed that up with a very well-received command performance at a school dance. (I'm sure nobody involved with the group remembers that I came up with the band's incredible name, but that's neither here nor there.) Curfew had a sound that I would say was definitely Journey-influenced.

In college, I spent a lot of time hanging out with a drummer named Jason who ended up fronting a Journey cover band. They were called, I believe, Wheel in the Sky.

I myself was fairly indifferent to Journey during my formative years. I didn't own any of their albums, but neither would I turn the radio off if one of their songs came on. I heard enough of them that I can still sing along and only mangle about two-thirds of the lyrics.

Now, even though I sing along, I don't even come close to hitting any of the castrato-ish high notes that Steve Perry manages to reach on most Journey recordings. I think the man is part chipmunk.

Part chipmunk or not, he's definitely All 80s in the video for that most dramatic of all Journey songs, "Separate Ways (Worlds Apart)". How can you tell it's their most dramatic song? It's got a fucking subtitle, people.

Oh! the delicious joys of this video. The air-keyboarding! The mullets! The hairsprayed-to-within-an-inch-of-her-life leading lady! The intense-dockworkers-on-a-break theme of it all! (It really kind of makes the "Take on Me" video look like Fellini.) And the lyrics. My god, the lyrics.

I don't think I ever really listened to the lyrics of this thing before. "I'm reaching for you!" "If he ever hurts you, true love won't desert you!" "Troubled times/caught between confusion and pain...pain...pain." "If you must go, I wish you love." "I still love you, girl."

Did Steve Perry have absolutely no fucking self-esteem? I mean, yeah, he's a geek. Look at him. But the man sold an awful lot of goddamn records. And yet, in this song, he's telling this cold-hearted trollop who dropped him like a Kennedy in the sixties that, if she ever breaks up with the dude she's currently fucking, he (poor, pathetic Steve Perry) will take her back in a heartbeat. As far as he's concerned, they're really just sort of on a break and she'll come back to him eventually. Wow.

And all of this to a driving guitar score that lives up to the word bombastic.

How can you not love this? How can you not just open up and let this pathetic wallowing into your soul. You really just have to give it up for people who took themselves this seriously and yet looked like they did. God bless them.

Next time in Velveeta Jukebox, we'll check out a non-dangerous rhythmic movement.

Dude, you were born in a food court? That is so cool!
How can you not just open up and let this pathetic wallowing into your soul.

You just...don't.
JJ--Yes, my actual birth name is Orange Julius.

Beigey--See, you just have no soul.
It sad but I remember that video booth in the food court. I really hate to admit this but since I came from the big city of Louisville, Oh I actually put money in that thing. If I remember correctly, I think it was a dollar for a video.. I must agree Steve Perry is a geek but his voice totally makes up for it.
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