Coming Up Close

Hi! And happy new year! For those who receive my posts by email, it probably comes as a surprise to see a message from me today, since I haven’t published a post since April 29, 2022.

If you’ve dropped by here in the past, you will know I enjoy listening to music throughout the day. And I’m happy to be back here to share some of it with you. I plan to go back to writing a blog post about a song each day. Next week, I’ll resume my practice of posting a classical piece every Sunday. I may not always have much to say about the songs I share, but I’ll serve something up…

In that last write-up before my hiatus, I wrote that I was planning to spend more time cycling outdoors, as I was coming off six months of Zwifting on the indoor bike trainer (a typically indoor season lasts about four). And, I said I would also be looking for a volunteer opportunity to build on purpose and service.

Well, I did do the latter, which affected how much time I had for the former: I volunteered for a little more than four months on an election campaign. It felt like a really important cause to get behind. A lot of long hours, some fantastic working relationships and friendships made, though, at the same time, politics can be quite foul, which was truly hard on my soul. And… we lost, which was a crushing disappointment, as our candidate spoke with a bold, innovative and humane vision to make our city a better place for all who live here. The defeat took some time to get over, and a couple of months later, it still seems surreal that all the policy announcements we developed will not come to fruition.

Life’s like that, though. Sometimes things don’t turn out despite doing all the work.

In a 1989 interview with the music industry trade magazine Cash Box, American singer-songwriter Aimee Mann (b. 1960) said of today’s song, “‘Coming Up Close’ made people nervous ’cause there were no other songs like it on the charts; now there are. We could’ve been groundbreakers, I think, if (the album) Welcome Home had gotten the attention it deserved.” Having a musical talent within my own family, I see the passion, creativity and effort that goes into making music; to share it with the world and feel it hasn’t been embraced and widely heard must be a kind of heartbreak.

I first heard “Coming Up Close” on Apple Music earlier this year. I didn’t realize until seeking out a video for the song that Mann was the lead singer of the former Boston, Massachusetts, USA new wave band, ‘Til Tuesday. I’m familiar with some of Mann’s solo work and have featured one of her pieces, “Goose Snow Cone,” on this site. While I now recognize Mann’s singing in today’s song and enjoy it, I notice an added maturity of tone in her later work.

‘Til Tuesday was together for a relatively short time, from 1982 to 1989.

In “Coming Up Close,” Mann and ‘Til Tuesday’s drummer Michael Hausman weave words and music into a beautiful, lilting ballad of love, and perhaps hope:

“One night in Iowa
He and I in a borrowed car
Went driving in the summer
Promises in every star

Out in the distance
I could hear some people laughing
I felt my heart beat back
A weekend’s worth of sadness

There was a farmhouse
That had long since been deserted
We stopped and carved our hearts
Into the wooden surface

We thought just for an instant
We could see the future
We thought for once we knew
What really was important

Coming up close
Everything sounds like welcome home
Come home, and oh, by the way

Don’t you know that I could make
A dream that’s barely half-awake come true

I wanted to say
But anything I could have said
I felt somehow that you already knew

We got back in the car
And listened to a Dylan tape
We drove around the fields
Until it started getting late

And I went back to
My hotel room on the highway
And he just got back
In his car and drove away

Coming up close
Everything sounds like welcome home
Come home, and oh, by the way

Don’t you know that I could make
A dream that’s barely half-awake come true

I wanted to say
But anything I could have said
I felt somehow that you already knew

Coming up close
Everything sounds like welcome home
Come home

Coming up close
Everything sounds like welcome home
Come home, come on home”

“Coming Up Close,” by Aimee Mann, Michael Hausman.
Lyrics retrieved from AZLyrics.com.

Billboard magazine’s record review described “Coming Up Close” as a “nostalgic rock song,” saying it was a “contemplative follow-up” to “What About Love” (the other single from the 1986 album Welcome Home) and that it “incorporates elements of both country and western.” Indeed, the deep, resonant tone of the electric guitar riff has a solid country twang that adds a layer of thoughtful reminiscence about a love affair that didn’t come together in the end.

English record producer and engineer Rhett Davies (b. 1949) produced Welcome Home. He’s a familiar presence in my musical collection, having worked on albums I have by Roxy Music, plus several of ex-Roxy Music keyboardist Brian Eno’s solo albums (for me, most notably Taking Tiger Mountain [By Strategy]) and some by Eno’s former Roxy Music bandmate Phil Manzanera, along with albums by Genesis, Robert Palmer, The HolliesDire StraitsKing Crimson, Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark, and many others. 

“Coming Up Close” was the second and final single from Welcome Home. The band had wanted it to be the first single, but the record company pushed for “What Above Love,” which I find — at least in comparison — kind of a dull song. Back to Mann’s comments quoted earlier, “Coming Up Close” really did deserve more attention. The album didn’t realize the commercial gains Epic Records sought… and maybe that’s another example of record executives chasing profit over artistry. But the song has aged well and gives me a lot of pleasure when I hear it. It’s kind of like welcoming a loved one home.

We don’t not always get where we planned. Coming up close will work, maybe, but it is not always a lasting thing.

Now you know a little about why this is my Song of the Day for Today. Thanks for joining me here. Please enjoy.

Here’s the video for “Coming Up Close” from the official TilTuesdayVEVO/Youtube channel. (By the way, I always have an added bit of admiration for a band that takes the time to customize their Youtube channel URL or handle… now, I mean, of course, anyone can do this, but only months ago, one still had to reach a threshold of followers before being able to add the customization… but I digress.)

Besides the sound of the drummer counting in, the video appears to have been synced to the studio audio track. In the film, Mann sings while strumming an acoustic guitar. It’s been reported that this was one of the first songs she wrote on the acoustic instead of her usual instrument, the electric bass. The clothing, hair and makeup in the video truly give off the vibe of the 1980s new wave/new romantic era.

With my best wishes,

Steve

5 thoughts on “Coming Up Close

  1. Ha. I bumped my phone so that last message sent before I finished the email.

    I look forward to seeing these every week-ish.

    Lots of Love Steve. May 2023 be filled with peace, love, and meaningful connection.

    Liked by 1 person

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