I was far too old when I heard this; long past the age when it should have been part of my soul. I should have heard this growing up, letting its searing riffs embed themselves deep into my adolescent psyche; its heart-rending, tear-inducingly beautiful solo entwining itself with my memories like roses in a trellis.
As it is, I only heard this a few years ago and thought, “F*** me, it’s pretty.” It is pretty. Its central section ranks alongside Comfortably Numb and Hangar 18 as the most lovely thing you can reasonably do with a guitar.
It seems staggering now that people thought this was about devil-worship. There was a whole barrel of stupidity and ignorance about metal in the 80s that prevented a lot of impressionable ears from hearing things that would have made them much happier. This is a song about drug addiction – cautionary, not celebratory. Horrified parents should have been playing it to their kids.
I think we’ll be playing it to ours.
Talking of the offspring, there are two songs guaranteed to quell the most tiresome of tantrums: Somewhere Over The Rainbow and Sing A Song. The latter isn’t on my list, but another Carpenters song makes number 45 on my list. There was something so effortlessly, purely perfect about The Carpenters, and particularly Close To You. It was written by Bacharach & David, and was originally recorded by Richard Chamberlain in 1963. Dionne Warwick included it as the B-side to her 1965 single Here I Am, but of course it’s the Carpenters version that is most well known. It was number one on the Billboard charts for four weeks in 1970.
The video always reminds me of an indie song called I Wonder Why released in around 1990, but I can’t remember the band who did it. Their promo riffed on the Carpenters’ “letter” theme, with the band sitting in the letters W-H-Y. I’m sure it will come back to me at some point.