Friday Lyric Quiz, Number 454 (In Which I Leave Off the Too-Obvious ‘Baker Street’)

In this age of slant rhymes and auto-tuning and sample reliance and lyrical monotony, one thing is painfully clear: the musical landscape has changed. While some bands such as The Killers have offered a bit of a throwback, the classic 80s sound hasn’t been heard since, oh, one could say 21 years or so.

One factor that helped define the smooth audial identity of Hall & Oates, INXS, 80s Bowie, and others was the saxophone solo. Sometimes staccato and upbeat, sometimes plaintive, sometimes out of left field. A sax solo sounds wildly out of place in this day and age. But when I hear one on a classic tune, I realize I sometimes kind of miss the frequent participation of the coolest of all the woodwinds.

Check back here mid-week or so for my biting analysis on which solos I love, which I love to hate, and which just seem out-of-place or extraneous. For now, see if you can guess these 10 songs, all of which have a memorable sax solo contained somewhere within.

Friday Lyric Quiz #454 [scroll down for answers to last week’s quiz]

1. “There’s no comfort in the truth, pain is all you’ll find” (mid-80s)

2. “Now I see my world come tumbling down, now I see the road is bent” (late 80s)

3. “No flags of truce, no cries of pity, the siege guns had been pounding all through the night” (mid-80s)

4. “Chrome wheeled, fuel injected and steppin’ out over the line, ho ” (mid-70s)

5. “We could live for a thousand years, but if I hurt you, I’d make wine from your tears” (late 80s)

6. “Things are okay with me these days, I got a good job, I got a good office” (late 70s)

7. “I’ll be your non-stop lover, get it while you can” (late 80s)

8. “When you said goodbye, you were on the run, trying to get away from the things you’ve done” (mid-80s)

9.  “At the end of the drive, the lawmen arrive” (early 80s)

10. “I want to hold you so hear me out. I want to show you what love’s all about” (late 80s)

Answers to Friday Lyric Quiz #453

1. “He tells me in his bedroom voice, ‘come on honey, let’s go make some noise'” (mid-80s)
Manic Monday, The Bangles

2. “You’re in the same boat with a lotta your friends, waiting for the day your ship’ll come in” (early 80s)
9 to 5, Dolly Parton

3. “Everyone’s hoping, it’ll all work out, everyone’s waiting, they’re holding out” (early 80s)
Workin’ For the Weekend, Loverboy

4. “Sometimes I catch myself starting into space, counting down the hours ’til I get to see your face” (mid-2000s)
Hey Julie, Fountains of Wayne

5. “Every day when I get home from work, I feel so frustrated, the boss is a jerk” (early 80s)
Bang the Drum All Day, Todd Rundgren

6. “Hundred dollar car note, two hundred rent; I get a check on Friday, but it’s all ready spent” (early 80s)
Working for a Living, Huey Lewis and the News

7. “My mother and father, my wife and my friends, you’ve seen them laugh in my face” (late 70s)
Blue Collar Man (Long Nights), Styx

8. “So the graduations hang on the wall, but they never really helped us at all” (early 80s)
Allentown, Billy Joel

9. “28 years have come and gone and she’s seen a lot of tears” (early 80s)
She Works Hard for the Money, Donna Summer

10. “I saved up my money and I put it all away, I went to see her daddy but we didn’t have much to say” (mid-80s)
Working on the Highway, Bruce Springsteen


Woman Beats Machine (In Which I Remember John Henry and Ken Jennings)

For the first time in years — if not ever — I succeeded where technology failed.

Over the weekend, my friend Travis hummed a few bars on the way out of my apartment. He popped his head back in: ‘What song is that?’ And he repeated the phrase … 11 or so notes.

‘I dunno,’ I dismissed. ‘Sounds 80s.’ Travis agreed. We tried humming the few bars into SoundHound, the usually miraculous iPhone app that names a tune in 10 seconds or fewer, whether it is the studio recording, a live performance, or your own dumb self humming it.

This time, however? No dice.

Tuesday morning, the riff was still running through my head. I sing it into SoundHound at least 15 times. I type the musical phrase, semi-phonetically, into Google. I stumble across pages like this and this. I review a list of 80s one-hit wonders to see if that jogs my memory (side note to self: download ‘Nineteen’ by Paul Hardcastle). I email Travis and tell him he has to visit me in the mental institution where I will inevitably wind up.


Suddenly, in a rare moment that I’m actually not humming the cursed 11 notes to myself, it hits me. It’s a Cure song. I’m almost sure of it. I write ‘Cure’ in my notebook and circle it, as if this will manifest a correct result.

I Google the track listing to Staring at the Sea (okay, so the Internet helped a little bit, but this was quicker than booting up iTunes). Lo and behold, I see track 16: ‘Close to Me.’ I take a listen via LastFM.

Hot damn. 0:32 through 0:40 has been on replay through my brain for the past three days.


I text Travis to see if I’ve solved the mystery. Wouldn’t you know it, I had. What a relief! A rewarding, fulfilling relief.

Yes, it drove me crazy for a few days and yes, I shook my fist at SoundHound more than once, but the answer was ultimately so much sweeter because I stumbled across it on my own. I exercised my brain and my long-term memory for once.

I should remember this feeling next time I run to my phone or laptop to pull up IMBD or Wikipedia or my favorite lyrics site or any other source of an answer that’s haunting me.

But you know what? I probably won’t. It’s just too easy and efficient to cheat.

I hope we aren’t all doomed to have jelly-brains because technology makes it too easy on us. At least Google can’t write this blog for me – for the little that it’s worth, this has been my mental exercise for the day.

Wedding Etiquette, Young MC Style

I spent roughly five hours today working out of a coffee shop. A practice that always makes me feel a smidge guilty.  Was the $10.80 I spent on one discounted latte, one iced tea, and one (enormous and quite good) sandwich really worth five hours of their WiFi, electricity, heat, and bathroom facilities?  It’s not as though I was actively occupying a table for which others were clamoring.  And yet, despite how the practice aided my productivity (and that I liked the ambiance, the coffee, and the aforementioned sandwich), I will be going to another place tomorrow, lest I be recognized and frowned upon.

I may have issues.

Well, I can at least give these fine folks a shout out. Chicago residents, you can (occasionally) find me and can always find good drinks and eats at Corona’s Coffee Shop, right near the Sheridan Red Line.

In other news, this coffee shop’s radio station of choice favored 80s and 90s cuts.  I heard both Michael and Whitney. “Breakfast at Tiffany’s.”  Multiple slow jams from (the band) Chicago. More than one REO Speedwagon. And, oddly enough, Young MC’s “Bust a Move.”  Which reminded me of this ancient (September 2004) post from my old blog that I thought I’d recycle here (in parts) …

One of the many lines in popular music that has always perplexed me is the following:

“Your best friend Harry, has a brother Larry, in five days from now he’s gonna marry. He’s hoping you can make it there if you can, ’cause in the ceremony you’ll be the best man.” -“Bust a Move,” Young MC

One of two things is happening here, linguistically. Either:

A) “Has a brother Larry” is meant to be parenthetical. Just a bit of trivia tossed in within the confines of a sentence about Harry. And thus, the groom is indeed Harry. Which is only a *little* odd because shouldn’t Harry’s brother be best man instead of Young MC’s addressed subject? Maybe not, if the groom had multiple brothers or didn’t really like Larry or … well, there are any number of possibilities.

B) Per traditional sentence structure and agreement, Larry is the groom in question. And the subject of the verse has indeed been asked to be best man. Which is even more bizarre.

Additionally, as my friend Annie pointed out, what is with the loosey-goosey planning of this shindig?  The groom (whether it’s Harry or Larry) is “hoping” the would-be best man can make it there “if [he] can?”  The wedding is in five damned days?!  Is there another groomsman waiting in reserve with a backup toast?  Why can’t people commit?

And don’t get me started that this song came out in the late 80s and it was only “5 bucks” to see a movie. No wonder he couldn’t care less about blowing it.