Saturday, August 14, 2010

Fire 'em up if you got 'em

Anybody have the lyrics to Andrew Gold's song "Firefly" from his 1977 album What's Wrong With This Picture?  There's a good chance you've never heard the song, or the album which lurks in a box somewhere deep in the Sanctuary's vinyl files.  Heck, you may not even be familiar with Andrew Gold. 

Your best chance for a memory connection may be "Lonely Boy" -- a No. 7 single off that very album -- or "Thank You For Being My Friend,'' which later became the theme song for the TV sitcom Golden Girls.

We saw Gold on stage one long afternoon in the haze of a Tangerine Bowl concert in Orlando and thought he was, to borrow the favorite term of an artist buddy, "pretty OK."  His music, which included both of the before-mentioned songs, provided a mellow step-up to the bigger acts we had come to see.  We thought enough of Gold to buy What's Wrong With This Picture (Asylum 7E-1086).

"Firefly" is a syrupy but harmless number -- it could work as a children's lullaby -- that helped Gold's second album receive a scathing review in Rolling Stone which called the music "slack and often tedious, its lyrics fatuous."

Gold, who was doing session work for Linda Ronstadt, used the same band and studio to record What's Wrong With This Picture. The album charted for 16 weeks, peaking at No. 95, and clearly rubbing RS reviewer Ken Tucker the wrong way:

Gold Seems to have fallen into the same trap that has recently ensnared Ronstadt: the notion that to be taken seriously as a performer one must sing "serious" (i.e., slow) songs. Thus he concocts romantic twitterings like "Firefly," "Lonely Boy" and "One of Them Is Me" which smack of insincerity and make evident a dearth of inspiration.

Brutal.  It wasn't that bad, but come to think of it we haven't thought about the album for going on 30 years. Why now?  Fireflies.  They're everywhere.  We remember growing up as kids, during a good summer we might have two or three nights of fireflies and that would be it.  But here in Wauwatosa, along the Menomonee River Valley, they've been regular visitors nearly all summer.  Not surprising then that the town's name is derived from a Potawatomi word meaning "firefly."

(We like Wauwatosa well enough, or Tosa now that we've blended into the scenery, but wouldn't Firefly, Wisconsin be just grand?)

Now where are those lyrics? Guess we'll have to turn to Neil Young, who'll be hosting Farm Aid 25 nearby in October.  Maybe he'll play this country goody from Old Ways, which featured another Farm Aid mainstay Willie Nelson and buddy Waylon Jennings.  "Bound for Glory" wastes no time getting around to today's featured subject:

Out on the trans-Canada highway

There was a girl hitchhiking with her dog
Fireflies buzzin' round her head
Like candles in the fog

Now THAT's what we're talking about.  It's going in the player right now.

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