Song Lyric Sunday — Behind the Wheel

For this week’s Song Lyric Sunday, Jim Adams picked up a suggestion from Melanie (Sparks from a Combustible Mind) to give us automobile, car, jalopy, and vehicle as the theme. I chose a song by the incomparable Joni Mitchell, “Car on a Hill.”

“Car on a Hill,” written by Joni Mitchell, was a track from Court and Spark, the sixth studio album by Canadian singer-songwriter. The album was an immediate commercial and critical success, and it remains her most successful album ever, having reached number 2 in the U.S. and number 1 in Canada. This particular song, though, was never released as a single.

“Car on a Hill” is a moving song about what it’s like waiting for one’s lover to show up. The singer is impatiently waiting for her man to drive up to her house. He’s three hours late. Has he been hurt? Has he met someone else? She expresses all these feelings and while lamenting about how love’s initial delight — the laughter, the spark, the sweetness — can turn suddenly into doubt and despair.

Here are the lyrics to “Car on a Hill.”

I’ve been sitting up waiting for my sugar to show
I’ve been listening to the sirens and the radio
(Listening to the sirens and the radio)
He said he’d be over three hours ago
I’ve been waitin’ for his car on the hill
(Waitin’ for his car on the hill)

He makes friends easy
He’s not like me
I watch for judgment anxiously
Now where in the city can that boy be?
Waitin’ for a car
Climbin’, climbin’
Climbin’ the hill

He’s a real good talker
I think he’s a friend
Fast tires come screaming around the bend
(Fast tires come screaming around the bend)
But there’s still no buzzer
They roll on
And I’m waitin’ for his car on the hill
(Waitin’ for a car on the hill)

It always seems so righteous at the start
When there’s so much laughter
When there’s so much spark
When there’s so much sweetness in the dark
Waitin’ for a car
Climbin’, climbin’
Climbin’ the hill

Song Lyric Sunday — Breaking Up is Hard to Do

For This week’s Song Lyric Sunday, Jim Adams has given us breakup songs as our theme. And what better breakup song is there besides Neil Sedaka’s….

We interrupt this post to bring you this special message. At the last minute, Fandango has decided to go with Bonnie Raitt’s “I Can’t Make You Love Me,” a truly heartbreaking song.

“I Can’t Make You Love Me” was written by the Nashville songwriting team of Mike Reid and Allen Shamblin. It was recorded by American singer Bonnie Raitt in 1991 for her eleventh studio album Luck of the Draw and was released as the album’s third single that year. The song became one of Raitt’s most successful singles, reaching the top 20 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and the top 10 on the Adult Contemporary chart.

“I Can’t Make You Love Me” is about a woman who knows her man has lost interest in her and she just wants to spend one more night with him before moving on with her life. Instead of lying to herself or trying to work things out, she confronts the reality and seeks closure with that final night together. In the morning, she’ll be on her way.

Reid supposedly got the idea for the song from a newspaper article about a guy who got drunk and shot up his girlfriend’s car. When the judge sentenced him and asked him what he had learned, the guy said, “You can’t make a woman love you if she don’t.”

Raitt, who produced the record, said of the song, “It was absolutely one of the most honest and original heartache songs I had ever heard. It was a point of view that I had been on both sides of, and it struck me deeply. I knew immediately I wanted to sing it.” Getting the news that someone doesn’t love you anymore is devastating, but Raitt felt that delivering it is worse.

“I love that song,” Raitt said, “and so does the audience. So it’s almost a sacred moment when you share that, that depth of pain with your audience. Because they get really quiet, and I have to summon … some other place in order to honor that space.”

Here are the lyrics to “I Can’t Make You Love Me.”

Turn down the lights
Turn down the bed
Turn down these voices inside my head
Lay down with me
Tell me no lies
Just hold me close, don’t patronize
Don’t patronize me

‘Cause I can’t make you love me if you don’t
You can’t make your heart feel something it won’t
Here in the dark, in these final hours
I will lay down my heart and I’ll feel the power
But you won’t, no you won’t
‘Cause I can’t make you love me, if you don’t

I’ll close my eyes, then I won’t see
The love you don’t feel when you’re holding me
Morning will come and I’ll do what’s right
Just give me till then to give up this fight
And I will give up this fight

‘Cause I can’t make you love me if you don’t
You can’t make your heart feel something it won’t
Here in the dark, in these final hours
I will lay down my heart and I’ll feel the power
But you won’t, no you won’t
‘Cause I can’t make you love me, if you don’t

Song Lyric Sunday — Quit Bugging Me

For this week’s Song Lyric Sunday theme, Jim Adams is all about bugs and insects. We experienced an ant problem in our home this week, but rather than dwelling on those damn ants, I thought I’d focus instead on delightful lightning bugs, AKA fireflies, by choosing the song “Fireflies” from Owl City.

“Fireflies” was the debut single from American electronica project Owl City’s album Ocean Eyes. Frontman Adam Young wrote and produced the track, with Matt Thiessen also producing and providing guest vocals. The song topped the Billboard Hot 100 for two non-consecutive weeks in 2009. “Fireflies” was Owl City’s only top 40 hit on Billboard Hot 100 until three years later when “Good Time,” a duet with Canadian singer Carly Rae Jepsen, peaked at number 8 on the chart.

Young described the song as “a little song about bugs and not being able to fall asleep at night.” The song is built around a “bleepy” synthline and includes lyrics about insomnia, fireflies and summer. He said that he suffers from insomnia and often has difficulty falling asleep. He wanted to write a song about his inability to sleep in a whimsical way that portrayed the condition of insomnia as lighthearted and almost more of a blessing than a curse.

Young said, “It’s ironic that when sleep and I cannot bring ourselves to meet is often when inspiration strikes hardest. I’d just been on vacation to Iowa the week before I wrote the song and was amazed at how many fireflies came out at dusk. I didn’t really have to think about making a connection between insomnia and lightning bugs, it just sort of happened and the song basically wrote itself. It was a lot of fun.”

I always enjoyed this lightweight, upbeat song. It reminded me of my youth when I would run around at night capturing fireflies in a mayonnaise jar where I had punched air holes in its lid. Of course, I’d ultimately set the captured lightning bugs free.

Here are the lyrics to the song “Fireflies.”

You would not believe your eyes
If ten million fireflies
Lit up the world as I fell asleep

‘Cause they fill the open air
And leave teardrops everywhere
You’d think me rude but I would just stand and stare

I’d like to make myself believe that planet earth turns slowly
It’s hard to say that I’d rather stay awake when I’m asleep
‘Cause everything is never as it seems

‘Cause I’d get a thousand hugs
From ten thousand lightning bugs
As they tried to teach me how to dance

A foxtrot above my head
A sock hop beneath my bed
A disco ball is just hanging by a thread (thread, thread)

I’d like to make myself believe that planet earth turns slowly
It’s hard to say that I’d rather stay awake when I’m asleep
‘Cause everything is never as it seems (when I fall asleep)

Leave my door open just a crack
Please take me away from here
‘Cause I feel like such an insomniac
Please take me away from here
Why do I tire of counting sheep
Please take me away from here
When I’m far too tired to fall asleep

To ten million fireflies
I’m weird cause I hate goodbyes
I got misty eyes as they said farewell (said farewell)

But I’ll know where several are
If my dreams get real bizarre
‘Cause I saved a few and I keep them in a jar (jar, jar)

I’d like to make myself believe that planet earth turns slowly
It’s hard to say that I’d rather stay awake when I’m asleep
‘Cause everything is never as it seems (when I fall asleep)

I’d like to make myself believe that planet earth turns slowly
It’s hard to say that I’d rather stay awake when I’m asleep
‘Cause everything is never as it seems (when I fall asleep)

(I’d like to make myself believe that planet earth turns slowly)
(It’s hard to say that I’d rather stay awake when I’m asleep)
(Because my dreams are bursting at the seams)

Song Lyric Sunday — California Dreamin’

For this week’s Song Lyric Sunday theme, Jim Adams is celebrating the Fourth of July, America’s Independence Day, by asking us focus on American music, which is any song played by an American group. I was originally going to go with Simon & Garfunkel’s “America,” but then I remembered that I had already used that song for a Song Lyric Sunday post on October 6, 2019.

So then it was back to the drawing board. And that’s when I came up with “California Dreamin’” from the Mamas and the Papas. Few songs evoke the warmth and freedom of America’s dream with more beauty and charm than that song.

“California Dreamin’” was written by John Phillips and Michelle Phillips and was first recorded by Barry McGuire. However, the best-known version is by the Mamas and the Papas, who sang backup on the original version. They released the song as a single in 1965.

When the group was just starting out in 1965, their friend Barry McGuire helped them get a contract with his record label, Dunhill Records. McGuire recorded the first version of the song with the Mamas and the Papas as his backing band and with a harmonica solo instead of a flute. The Mamas and the Papas then decided to record it on their own, with Denny Doherty (the other Papa) singing lead and with some chord changes he came up with after consulting the session guitarist, P.F. Sloan, who had him listen to “Walk – Don’t Run” by The Ventures. The results were impressive, and Dunhill Records agreed to use it as the group’s first single, holding off on McGuire’s version so there wouldn’t be competition from an established artist.

The single, though, was was not an immediate breakthrough. After gaining little attention in Los Angeles upon its release, a radio station in Boston was the catalyst to breaking the song nationwide. After making its chart debut in January 1966, the song peaked at No. 4 in March on the Billboard Hot 100, lasting 17 weeks.

Michelle Phillips explained that the song came about when she was newly married to John Phillips. They were living in New York City, which was having a particularly cold winter, at least by Michelle’s standards, as she was from sunny California. John would walk around the apartment at night working out tunes, and one morning brought the first verse of the song to Michelle. It was a song about longing to be in another place, and it was inspired by Michelle’s homesickness.

Here are the lyrics to the song.

All the leaves are brown (all the leaves are brown)
And the sky is grey (and the sky is grey)
I’ve been for a walk (I’ve been for a walk)
On a winter’s day (on a winter’s day)
I’d be safe and warm (I’d be safe and warm)
If I was in L.A. (if I was in L.A.)

California dreamin’ (California dreamin’)
On such a winter’s day

Stopped into a church
I passed along the way
Well, I got down on my knees (got down on my knees)
And I pretend to pray (I pretend to pray)
You know the preacher like the cold (preacher like the cold)
He knows I’m gonna stay (knows I’m gonna stay)

California dreamin’ (California dreamin’)
On such a winter’s day

All the leaves are brown (all the leaves are brown)
And the sky is grey (and the sky is grey)
I’ve been for a walk (I’ve been for a walk)
On a winter’s day (on a winter’s day)
If I didn’t tell her (if I didn’t tell her)
I could leave today (I could leave today)

California dreamin’ (California dreamin’)
On such a winter’s day (California dreamin’)
On such a winter’s day (California dreamin’)
On such a winter’s day

Song Lyric Sunday — Breakfast Time

This week’s Song Lyric Sunday theme is meals, specifically breakfast, brunch, dinner, lunch, snack, and supper. Jim Adams credits fellow blogger Paula Light with these delicious themes, although knowing Paula, I’m surprised she didn’t specify cupcakes. For my meal-related song I’m going with the song “Breakfast in America” from Supertramp.

“Breakfast in America” was the title track from Supertramp’s 1979 album of the same name. Supertramp was a British band whose main songwriters were keyboard player Rick Davies and bass player Roger Hodgson. Although they shared songwriting credits, most of their songs were written separately.

Hodgson wrote this one when he was in his late teens and still living in England. The song described an English youth who dreams of going to America and becoming famous, which is exactly what Supertramp did. It was a top-ten hit in the UK and a live version of the song reached number 62 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 in January 1981.

The band included the song “Breakfast in America,” on the album — and used the song’s name as the name of the album — even though Hodgson had written it eight years before most of the other songs on the album. They felt that the song would have a shot at being a commercial success and they wanted the album to have pop appeal. That was a change from Supertramp’s previous albums, which were more conceptual and elaborate.

Hodgson said of the song, “It was just mind chatter. Just writing down ideas as they came, fun thoughts all strung together. And I do remember the Beatles had just gone to America, and I was pretty impressed with that. That definitely stimulated my dream of wanting to go to America. And obviously seeing all those gorgeous California girls on the TV and thinking, Wow, that’s the place I want to go.” He eventually did move to California in 1973 and has lived there ever since.

Hodgson and Davies had a specific disagreement over the first line in the song: “Take a look at my girlfriend, she’s the only one I got.” Hodgson explained that Davies never liked the lyrics to “Breakfast.” He thought the lyrics were trite, especially that first line. Hodgson said that he didn’t actually have a girlfriend at that time, and, he added, “If I did, it wouldn’t have lasted much longer after that.”

Here are the lyrics to “Breakfast in America.”

Take a look at my girlfriend
She’s the only one I got
Not much of a girlfriend
Never seem to get a lot

Take a jumbo across the water
Like to see America
See the girls in California
I’m hoping it’s going to come true
But there’s not a lot I can do

Could we have kippers for breakfast
Mummy dear, mummy dear
They got to have ’em in Texas
‘Cause everyone’s a millionaire

I’m a winner, I’m a sinner
Do you want my autograph
I’m a loser, what a joker
I’m playing my jokes upon you
While there’s nothing better to do

Ba-ba-ba-dow, ba-bow-dum-doo-de-dow-de-dow, de
Ba-ba-ba-dow, ba-bow-dum-de-doo-de-dow
Na na na, nana na na na na

Don’t you look at my girlfriend (girlfriend)
She’s the only one I got
Not much of a girlfriend (girlfriend)
Never seem to get a lot (what’s she got, not a lot)

Take a jumbo cross the water
Like to see America
See the girls in California
I’m hoping it’s going to come true
But there’s not a lot I can do

Ba-ba-ba-dow, ba-bow-dum-doo-de-dow-de-dow, de
Ba-ba-ba-dow, ba-bow-dum-de-doo-de-dow

Hey oh, hey oh, hey oh, hey oh,
Hey oh, hey oh, hey oh, hey oh

Na na na, nana na na na nana