Monday, May 7, 2012
Sheepish Musical Pleasures: Philip Bailey and Phil Collins, "Easy Lover"
I am well aware that loving this song might be crossing the line from sheepish into unconscionable, but it has so many positive memories attached to it that all of your derision matters not. This song always takes me back to Friday nights at the local pizza place in my hometown in the mid-1980s. It's the kind of uptempo pop rocker that the patrons liked to plunk their quarters into the jukebox to hear ("Eye of the Tiger" and "R.O.C.K. in the U.S.A." were other favorites.) My family was cheap and we rarely ate out, but on the occasional Friday we'd go get pizza, and I really considered it a special treat. Hell, my dad would even give us a few quarters to play Ms. Pac Man or put our own songs on the jukebox. Coming from a man who bought his clothes at K-Mart (only after his old ones had gone totally threadbare) and drove a car so rusty that it left a trail of flakes on his way to work, this was always a pleasant surprise.
Just to give a sense of his parsimoniousness, this pizza place had a promotion where if you bought a glass Coca-Cola pitcher, you could bring it in for free refills. We acquired this beauty at some point in the early 1980s and he continued to bring it with us to the pizza place years after the promotion had ended. Sometime in the 1990s the owner of the place told my dad not to bother, and that my family would always get free coke as a reward for our loyalty. This victory of steadfast tightfistedness over the temptation to pay more money in order to avoid embarrassment will probably go down as my father's Austerlitz or Vicksburg.
"Easy Lover" might be a disposable piece of 80s pop, but damn if it doesn't have some hard-rockin' drums and kickin' guitar. Phil Collins even sounds a little tough! What makes it, of course, is former Earth, Wind, and Fire singer Philip Bailey's wonderful high voice belting the kind of soulful singing one rarely hears paired with a driving rock accompaniment. In any case, it makes a great soundtrack to chowing down on a slice of pizza in a small Nebraska town in 1985.