Oh Yeah

Oh, yeah… so I told you that when I bought my first stereo, a brother of mine urged me to buy Brian Eno’s album, Taking Tiger Mountain by Strategy. (My post on January 6, 2020 talks about this, and I’ve mentioned Eno so many times, I won’t link to them all here, or we’ll never get through this post.) It was indeed my first, or one of my first, purchases. As a progressive art-rock disc, it was rare, so took some finding. But I found it. And, I might add, there was no internet at the time to help me seek it out.

I amassed an impressive array of Eno LPs over the years and extended an interest into his previous musical life as the keyboard/synthesizer player for Roxy Music. Roxy Music has to be one of the most underrated bands ever: bandleader and lead singer Bryan Ferry is a fantastic singer; Phil Manzanera has to be one of the greatest guitarists ever; Eno brought unique textures and sounds to the music — and perfected that craft when he went solo, creating some spectacular recording under the glam rock and ambient genres. The various other members over the years have also been outstanding musicians.

Eno was like a “dirty little secret.” All my friends thought my fascination in his music was odd, except one who got it and went on to be a bass player (fretless — Eno would approve) in a Winnipeg avant-garde band called A New Man Celebration. That band pioneered New Wave music to mostly inhospitable audiences in Winnipeg bars, including the old Norlander, a traditional rocker bar if there ever was one, and a place I spent many evenings listening to bands. By the way, I still have a Sony Betamax tape of A New Man Celebration appearing on a Saturday afternoon CKY-TV (now CTV Winnipeg) music show that was hosted by “Racoon” Carney… I don’t remember the program name and don’t have a Betamax player anymore so can’t check it out — does anyone remember the show? I was in the studio audience, suitably dressed up in my Generra clothes — anyone remember that brand? The design and quality were unique; my friends were ostensibly into the avant-garde, but I pushed that envelope for them, I think. I had some pretty amazing clothes; I think they were secretly jealous, and wish I had pictures.

Then in 1980, Roxy Music released Flesh + Blood, a richly instrumented and marvellously produced record. The album opens with a cover of the Steve Cropper/Wilson Pickett song, “In The Midnight Hour,” and the B-side features a cover of the Byrds’ “Eight Miles High.” All the songs are solid, though my favourite, by far, is the second track, “Oh Yeah.” It’s the story of a summer romance as told after the relationship has ended and the grieving storyteller is left only with his car, and their song. I wonder if he was maybe too in tune with his car, and didn’t pay enough attention to his lover.

“Some expression in your eyes
Overtook me by surprise
Where was I
How was I to know?
How can we drive to a movie show
When the music is here in my car?

There’s a band playing on the radio
With a rhythm of rhyming guitars
They’re playing
Oh yeah
On the radio

And so it came to be our song
And so on through all summer long
Day and night drifting on into love
Driving you home from a movie show
So in tune to the sounds in my car”

(from “Oh Yeah,” by Bryan Ferry)

A favourite record of mine is Roxy Music’s The High Road, a four-song live EP (two originals, plus covers of Neil Young’s “Like a Hurricane and John Lennon’s “Jealous Guy” played during their Avalon tour in 1982). One of our boys gave me a rare promotional copy of the record last year, for my birthday. It’s got to be one of the most excellent live performances I’ve heard. The EP plays less than 30 minutes in total, but the night I received it I stayed up and listened to it for over an hour and a half.

“Oh Yeah” is a song I can listen to again and again; it’s sad but lovely, and the arrangement is brilliant; the guitar and keyboards seem like they have a back-and-forth with each other at times in the melody.

Now you know a little about why this is my song of the day for today. Please enjoy. 

Here’s the audio (not an official version; shared only so you can hear the song. If you like it, please buy it).

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