West Seneca, NY—Music snob, and local author P.A.Kane (Leaving Jackson Wolf; Written In The Stars: The Book Of Molly) says that Yacht Rock radio— smooth, soulless niche music—produces feelings of extreme indifference. According to Kane, artists such as Toto, Christopher Cross and Pablo Cruise aren’t worthy of higher order emotional responses such as love or hate. Nobody feels an attachment or an aversion to Player, Gino Vanelli or Air Supply—those artists exist in a milieu of the white noise like wine spritzers and sodium free crackers. It’s the music of Bartles & Jaymes. It’s the music of communion wafers.
In addition to being the 1.5 millionth ranked author on Amazon, P.A.Kane also has an ever expanding music library of some five-thousand albums. He likes to remind people he was there when The Who vomited in the bar in ‘71, that he strongly advocated against The Replacements releasing the shiny and swaggerless Don’t Tell A Soul in ‘89 and has been an outspoken supporter LCD Soundsystem since 2001, before there even was a LCD Soundsystem. He has opinions on everything from the overly pretentious twenty-two minute version of “Whipping Post” by The Allman Brothers: “They should’ve dispensed with all the lengthy fadeouts and just rocked that shit for ten or eleven minutes”—to the lyrics of “Heroes,” by David Bowie: I, I wish you could swim/Like the dolphins/Like dolphins can swim/Though nothing, nothing will keep us together/We can beat them, forever and ever/Oh, we can be heroes just for one day— “WTF does a dolphin have to do with being a hero?”
Kane also likes to point out that the “Freebird,” of Yacht Rock radio- “Ride Like The Wind,” by Christopher Cross, not for one moment makes feel like you’re jumping aboard some gale force tempest blowing in from the Arctic. On its best day that song might conjure images of a gum wrapper skipping down the street. You feel next to nothing or extreme indifference.
It’s only when you hear and see the video of the song covered by the metal band Saxon does it get a rise. Then you realize how ridiculous it is- especially when you see the Saxon dudes arming up and getting on their hogs in an attempt to outrun the law or whatever. You raise an eyebrow and say to yourself- what is this mess? Because, in the past, it was always the music of puffed wheat or melba toast and you never listened enough to hear the content.
But, when you dig into the lyrics what you find is a song about a guy born from a lawless man who always spoke his mind with a gun in his hand. And, apparently, he ‘s on the run to the border of Mexico. It’s a real revelation to finally know what the hell Michael McDonald was singing about on that song. But, it’s at that point you also scratch your head and say, wait a minute: Christopher Cross- lawless?- gun? That bald dude in the ascot and topsiders who looks like he, in fact, grew up on a yacht in Newport Beach? That fucking guy is an outlaw? Ridiculous.
Finally, your feelings of extreme indifference for “Ride Like The Wind,” are usurped, but it was a long haul to get there—like going to the border of Mexico.
This Yacht Rock classic and others aren’t like a U2 song, which you can immediately hate because it’s the same repackaged bullshit about finding some higher ground that these preachy white guy trillionaires have been doing since the early 80’s. And, it’s not like the disdain you now feel for Tom Petty, since every gas station, supermarket and drug store plays his tunes ad nauseum. Or the extreme joy you feel when you hear new Sleater-Kinny produced by St. Vincent. The melancholy you feel hearing The Cure’s “Untitled,” from the epically sad Disintegration.
Kane goes onto suggest that if you want to know what Robbie Dupree is talking about when he asks us to “Steal Away,” or what Kenny Loggins means by “Whenever I Call You Friend,” or who exactly is Hall & Oates’, “Rich Girl,” look for the metal version of these songs. Otherwise all you’ll be left with is the white noise of extreme indifference.