I out myself as a former Loggins and Messina fan! And not even of the cheesy, catchy faux-rock Loggins and Messina (“Your Mama Don’t Dance,” “My Music”) but instead the sappy ballads, “Love Song” and “Watching the River Run” and this song, presented here in a pristine, pedal-steel-heavy cover version by the do-no-wrong Neko Case.
Well fuck you, it’s a great song. I did have money by the time I had my own son (17 years ago tomorrow), and everything didn’t bring a chain of love–there were some rough patches–but I hear it now and I think, yeah, okay, mostly right, that quiet heart-bursting sense of pride and wonder, that optimism. Is there ever another time where you’re as optimistic as right after your child has been born?
I hear it now and I also think, hmm, what did I hear in this song when I was 16? As I remember I was not a big fan at the time of families and chains of love. I was watching a documentary last night about German silent movies in the years just before Hitler and a recurring theme was, “What did cinema know that we didn’t?” I find I sometimes ask something similar about my taste in music: what did the music know about me better than I did myself?
Neko’s cover is not really of the Loggins and Messina version but the Anne Murray hit version, which means she doesn’t sing two of the verses. One of those is best left unsung but I sort of like the one that begins “Pieces, Virgo rising is a very good sign/Strong and kind/And the little boy is mine,” the way it trapezes from hippie shit to charming, relatable sentiment. Just now my own son swooped in to remind me of what a good kid he is, and while I wholeheartedly agree I suggested he put it on a business card because you can’t be too indulgent of that, right?
This song is from the “Vinyl” HBO show soundtrack, although I first heard it on WXPN. There are a few other cover versions floating around recently that have also caught my ear. Charles Bradley’s James Brown-like take on Black Sabbath’s heavy metal power ballad “Changes” transforms the song from teen self-pity to adult emotion (not that there’s anything wrong with teen self-pity, especially in a rock song). Bob Woodruff (remember him?) has a new album out that’s a mixed bag but his “Stop! In the Name of Love” redone as a Gram Parsons song is great fun although it goes on too long. And Sturgill Simpson’s straightforward take on “In Bloom” as a cautionary tale for his newborn son also feels like a eulogy for Kurt Cobain and one of those terrifying worst-case premonitions fathers get along with all the pride and wonder stuff. What’s not a mixed bag?