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bahoodore

Row, Row, Row Your Boat...

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Was this something you came up with in the studio???

Believe it or not, it took me a couple of years before realizing what it was!!! Doops!!! As a musician you would think I would have picked it in the flashiest of flashes...

I really like the intro, it sets up the song "just right".

bahoo

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No, I wrote the whole song at home. I liked the juxtaposition of the innocence of RRRYB and the last line being "Life is but a dream"......against the world weary, grown up BATC lyric.

e

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James   

I never comprehended the meaning of that juxtaposition. It never hit me. Knowing this now will make this song (maybe my favorite song of alltime..) have that much more substance.

Thanks Eric,

James

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angelina   
Eric Carmen said:

No, I wrote the whole song at home. I liked the juxtaposition of the innocence of RRRYB and the last line being "Life is but a dream"......against the world weary, grown up BATC lyric.

I always felt that was perfect juxtaposition. The childlike innocence of RRRYB is comparable to the innocent possibilities for tomorrow in a new relationship....only to have those tomorrows build into a pile of yesterdays.

BATC is the most mature song I've ever heard!

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This has been discussed many times before, but for anyone new...

Eric found it as a song to hang yourself by (though I believe it's one of his personal favorite compositions, including Bernie), over the years he was amazed that some of us, me included, found it positive, ("But tomorrow...")

(btw, it's jaw dropping live)

Eric, I think you should come full circle and write "Boats with the Current"), and have a studio reunion of Ricky and the Tooth, the orignal inspiration.

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elle4ec   
Eric Carmen said:

No, I wrote the whole song at home. I liked the juxtaposition of the innocence of RRRYB and the last line being "Life is but a dream"......against the world weary, grown up BATC lyric.

Precisely, Eric. I think the sad, yet hopeful irony in the juxtaposition of the music and the lyrics is why I love BATC so very much.

To me, the song mirrors life.

We begin life, armed with the childlike, innocent naivety of our hopes and dreams for the future, carrying with us, the belief that the possibilities for our future are endless.

Then, with our progression into adulthood, we come face-to-face with the harsh realities of life in the real world. The innocence of youth fades, and we witness most of those hopes and dreams beginning to slip away along with it...as if setting sail to some distant shore, oceans away.

Still, for most of us, we continue to hold on to the big dreams, rowing with all our might, clinging to the glimmer of still, small hope, and, to the belief, that through persistence, and the refusal to give up, our sheer will and determination will eventually enable us to reach the shore.

And, when we reach that shore, we'll turn and face the sunset, and we'll finally see a lifetime of beauty revealed to us, along with the full expanse of it's breathtakingly romantic view...patiently waiting there, for us to take it all in.

Bringing us to the realization that we've finally reached the ultimate destination of our lives...that faraway, inner place, where the hopeful child still lives in all of us, the child who, all along, refused to let go of the dream.

Then, we'll know, all of our efforts weren't in vain.

...And it was all worth the wait.

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That was really nice, elle---I enjoyed reading your thoughts. :)

All I feel when I hear this song is that there are two people that seriously need to break up, move on and get a life some place else where it can be much brighter, 'cause they ain't getting any younger and time is "a-wastin'".

I mean, how much more can we exhaust ourselves trying to make something work...that is no longer workable?

So true in so many circumstances.

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elle4ec   

:lol:, I see where you are coming from Wendy! Yeah, that relationship was one of those dreams that set sail to the distant shore, "worlds apart"!

Still, foolish as it may be, the die-hard romantic in me continues to hang on to the glimmer of hope of finding that true "romance in the sunset", someday!

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darlene   

I so agree elle. You expressed it so eloquently. I'm a romantic who has that "never give up" vision that "tomorrow, we'll run a little bit faster, tomorrow, we'll find what we're after at last..." For me there's always romance in the sunset. I guess I'm a "boat against the current to the end."

:)--D

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elle4ec said:

Still, foolish as it may be, the die-hard romantic in me continues to hang on to the glimmer of hope of finding that true "romance in the sunset", someday!

It's not foolish, at all...it would only be foolish if you are hoping to find that true "romance in the sunset" when really the glimmer of light you see, is an on coming train.

Like Father Fred said today at Mass---"Life is about wisdom. If you know it isn't working with someone, you don't stay with them (or marry them) because they are good in the ------ kitchen, or any other room in the house." ;)

WORD! I love my Priest! Kitchen...lol

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Ok, maybe I'm reading what you are Darlene are saying, incorrectly.

For me I feel...again for me...that this song is about realizing it's time to move on because there is more out there for you (and the other party), so you don't have to keep stuggling with something that is clearly falling apart.

And you both feel that this song is about a glimmer of hope that no matter how you know this is over, you'd rather struggle in a failing relationship in "hopes" there would still be romance, maybe? And that's what you'd both want and not perhaps moving on to a wonderful, stress free relationship. Cause to me, that's where the romance lies.

Or maybe I have it wrong? Help a sister out here---I'm plum confused. :):mellow:

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elle4ec   

That's not what I'm saying, Wendy. To me, the song means it's clearly time to let go of one relationship, and that particular dream, no matter how heartbreaking it may be.

Yet, for the hopeless romantic, all is not lost. For, "Tomorrow we're gonna find what we're after, at last." Because, "there's romance in the sunset". So, one shouldn't give up rowing the boat, no matter how difficult, because if we persevere, tomorrow will be just a little easier ("we'll run just a little bit faster"), and we'll finally find the dream we've been searching for..."We're boats against the current to the end".

Hope that helps.

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Ok...got it. Sorry, then your first post wasn't clear to me so I'm happy I asked.

So we're both saying kind of the same thing in the end. I didn't see it that way when I first read your post but now that you clarified it, it makes more sense.

Thanks again!

PS: I wanted to add that for me the phrase "boats against the current" meant the couple and their relationship...like salmon swimming up stream.

When it's time for it to be over...stop struggling, move on so you are no longer a "boat against a current"---exhausted from the fight that you are up against.

I suppose as a hopeless romantic, to me, through this song, I don't see the "keep rowing"..."persevering"...I see--- time to stop fighting a losing battle because there is hope that there is something much better out there for the couple in question if they part.

Perhaps we're saying it in two different ways? Heck, I don't know...I'm tired tonight.

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Kirk   

We had a big debate over the positive/negative influences in the song around 2004 and again in about 2006. Eric was shocked at the number of people that saw hope in the song. Originally, it was about the break up of his long standing partnership with Jimmy Ienner in the music biz. As far as the final version on the record, Eric 'almost' put his take into words on the message board, and then decided to let everyone find their own meaning in the song. Here's my take, from about 6 years ago:

"Feelings that we left in the past"- they both know the relationship is fading. "But tomorrow, we'll run a little bit faster, tomorrow, we're gonna find what we're after, at last"- in their hearts they want to believe that they can recapture lost feelings, by trying harder, by trying again; but in their minds they know it's not going to work. "There's romance in the sunset"- the setting sun is a reminder of the love they had, and also a metaphor for looking back on the relationship with rose colored glasses. "We're boats against the current to the end"- but here is the reconciliation that the relationship is bound for failure because of their differences, and no amount of hope, past emotions or effort can save it."

One thing that won't ever change- It's one heck of a song!

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OMGOSH...thanks Kirk for your insight into the song! Jimmy Ienner, huh? I'll have to look for the old debate.

When I first heard the song it meant then what it still does now. A relationship that isn't working...move on...there is something better.

So I guess, "there is something better" is where the "hope" comes in. It seems that "hope" is what me and Darlene and Elle all can agree on.

PS: You should have joined us yesterday. It was RIBS again!

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elle4ec   

Yes, Kirk, I've read those debates. (And, I knew Eric's inspiration was the relationship between he and Jimmy).

So. I can certainly see how one could perceive the song in exactly the way you described.

I prefer to look at the glass as half-full.

To me, that's the beauty of a magnificent song..One that can touch so many people in so many ways.

And, "Boats Against The Current" brilliantly proves that example.

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It is the most favorite song in the world for me.

But I slso saw hope in the song!

Your post taught me a true meaning.

Here is so much to learn.

I appreciate it very much. :)

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I guess the debate is over what it is and what we want it to be. Sometimes in a relationship we give up or loose sight of the things we wanted to pursue for ourselves before the relationship started. Maybe the relationship worked well for a while; but if it means stiffling the accomplishment of those things that are the very essence of what one lives for one must either give up those things and keep going against the current trying to accomplish what can never be or let go of the relationship. We can look at the past and romanticize it if that makes it easier to stay and keep trying to make it work or we can simply remember what was good but no longer works. Kind of like "No Hard Feelings", one has to "get out".

I guess.

Belle

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TartanBo   
Eric Carmen said:

I don't normally like to do this, but i've got to say, Elle got it exactly right, with one possible addition:

I'm confused because Elle posted two different posts that said two different things, so which post are you referring to, the first one or second one?

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elle4ec   
Eric Carmen said:

I don't normally like to do this, but i've got to say, Elle got it exactly right, with one possible addition:

Wow! I'm very flattered, Eric! Does that mean "Great minds (really do) think alike"?

Or, maybe it just means hopeless, die-hard romantics think alike. ;)

Unfortunately, I'll have to go with the second option, since I know my mind couldn't possibly compare with the intellectual capacity of your mind, :cool: Eric!

Whatever the commonalities, it sure does this romantic's heart :heartpump: good, knowing I might have understood the songwriter's :heartpump: inspiration for, and thoughts concerning my all-time favorite song :wub:!

BTW: I really enjoyed the "Annie Hall" clip. Probably Woody Allen at his finest.

And, Dammit! I sure wish I could totally swear off "eggs", sometimes...

Thank you for a truly magnificent song, Eric!

Love,

Elle

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Kirk   

Adrift in the Seventies

By Matthew Weiner

Eric Carmen
Boats Against the Current
1977

CBGB's murmurs aside, the late 1970's were, in many ways, a horrendous era for American popular music, as the most corporate of sensibilities ruled the airwaves. In stark contrast to the free-wheeling, if naïve, experimentalism that carried the day a decade earlier, late-seventies Los Angeles was anything but. Disaffectionately and hilariously deemed "El Lay" by American rock critic dean, Robert Christgau, the sound of lazy, uninspired craftsmanship in Southern California was typified by the turgid funk of Joe Walsh-era Eagles, the melodic-but-faceless blanche of Seals and Croft and smack-addled whine of James Taylor, not to mention about a thousand other well-meaning, if totally despicable bands and artists. It was as if sheer talent were the only standard by which musicians were judged and all of the inspiration were somehow filtered out by custom-designed mixing board transistors made of cocaine.

And the worst offender, biggest seller, and warmest embracer of all wasn't even American. Indeed, the spectre of Elton John on this scene was so massive by 1976 that, though he had hardly made a single record that lived up to its inflated sales (or its creator's ludicrously banal stage ensemble), no singer-songwriter hoping to receive any airplay could openly deny his influence. John, ne. Reg Dwight, was the all-consuming monster of the period.

Of course, though nobody knew it, John's period of remarkable, if shallow creativity was over by the bicentennial year's Blue Moves, for all intents and purposes. With "Sorry Seems To Be the Hardest Word," he ended the run of hits that had begun with 1970's "Your Song," heavily orchestrated by Paul Buckmaster. Almost everyone who was associated with John was, by this time, an industry heavy, including most of his band, producer Gus Dudgeon, and not least of which, Buckmaster himself.

It was with this backdrop that scrawny 5'7" Cleveland-boy Eric Carmen emerged from the shadows in 1976. Fresh off a frustrating four-album stint with his hometown power pop band, Raspberries, Carmen was a comer in every sense of the word. His previous band had been critically, if not commercially, lauded, with Rolling Stone selecting the band's final release, Starting Over, as 1974's Album of the Year. With the final track on the album, the title track, for the first time Carmen, the band's most eager rocker and shameless entertainer, indulged what would later become his trademark style. Even in this context, though, Carmen's quirkier, rougher-hewn side would emerge. The first line of the tender piano ballad, "I used to feel so fucking optimistic ... " was an aesthetic indicator of what was to come. But despite the praise, the record sank like stone and Carmen went solo, amidst intra-group squabbles.

From the ashes of Raspberries, 1976 saw Eric Carmen, on the strength of its first single, make its creator a household name. "All By Myself," was not only a massive success, it became the single of the year. The sweepingly orchestral ballad was also everything Carmen as lead singer of the Raspberries could never be: classicist, romantic and mature. The remainder of the album was hardly any less successful: on nearly every track, Carmen perfectly fused Pet Sounds-era Beach Boys with his love of Rachmaninoff (from whom Carmen had proudly lifted the melodies of "All By Myself" and "Never Gonna Fall in Love Again"). From start to finish, Eric Carmen was a breakthrough in every sense of the word.

In many respects, the album's complete success artistically and commercially (possible during that era) made it difficult for Carmen to record a follow-up, as evidenced by the sheer mass of time he would log in the studio. A Cleveland boy perhaps all-too-eager to transcend his cultural background, what he had achieved with his debut (at a mere 26 years of age) certainly outstripped the cliched rock n' roll stardom most working class Northeastern Ohio boys dreamt of as in their teens.

With that under his belt, Carmen set off to record what he was clearly aware would be the pinnacle of what he had worked towards, the apex of his creative vision. Assembling the Eric Carmen band, Carmen recruited John producer, Gus Dudgeon to help him realize that vision and set off to L.A. to get it on chromium dioxide.

But shortly after sessions began, it wasn't his vision, but conflicts with Dudgeon that were being realized. After firing his Cleveland band on the producer's advice, Carmen and Dudgeon parted ways nastily early on, leaving Carmen to finish the album on his own with a handful of session players and leftovers from the Dudgeon tracks, not to mention a label-boss in Clive Davis who was anxiously awaiting another "All By Myself."

Davis wouldn't get it, though Boats Against the Current would be Carmen's masterpiece, an opus of orchestral swell and yearning. The title track which began the album would represent virtually everything its author had wanted the record to achieve: romantic and literate prose (inspired by The Great Gatsby), taut but classical scope, and epic melodrama. Carmen would later deem it his finest song.

The record wasn't without its moments in which Carmen overreached: the singer proclaimed shortly after the album's release that he wanted to be "the Fitzgerald of Rock," by any measure one of the stupidest claims in pop history. But such hamfisted boasts aside (really a byproduct of his Midwestern upbringing), Boats Against the Current was another unqualified success, almost single-handedly rushing to rescue the late-seventies singer-songwriter idiom Elton John defined without flouting virtually any of its conventions. Indeed, Carmen embraces them, leaving virtually all of the sixties confections of his debut behind, dismissed as immature and reminders of the teeny-bopper past that he was trying so hard to escape, though he no longer needed to.

After the tragicomedy sob of the opening title track, "Marathon Man," with its mad Olympian rush and heady lyrics, sweatily asserts itself with timpani, driving piano and Buckmaster's contrapuntal strings. But despite a pathetically corny premise both lyrically and musically-or perhaps because of it-Carmen somehow pulls it off with a mix of operatic pomp and denim grit.

Thereafter, the record begins to get murky...and that's a good thing. The strength of those epic records of the seventies is their pop impressionism and lyricism; their weaknesses, their inability to stick to them.  Boats Against the Current somehow makes a virtue of both. For every ballad like "Nowhere To Hide," which achingly swims through the listener's consciousness, there is the Faces strut of "Take It Or Leave It" or the crisp pop-funk of "She Did It" to provide a welcome relief from the romantic dross of what has come before.

In the case of the latter, the song's superficial veneer belies the hallmark of a true pop craftsman. "She Did It," a top 20 hit in 1977 and the closest the album came to commercial success, is only moment on the record that could be called "euphoric"; with a vocal arrangement by the Beach Boys' Bruce Johnston, vocals contributed by Sunshine Pop svengali, Curt Boettcher and ebullient Buckmaster strings, "She Did It" was Carmen's pop sensibility spilling over uncontrollably and enthusiastically.

But the doomed-romance theme of the record would prove fortuitous; Boats Against the Current stalled at #88 on the pop charts, ultimately dooming Carmen to the worst fate of all: success, but on the industry's terms (see 1987's "comeback," the hideous "Hungry Eyes"). Embarrassing hits sung by Loverboy and Celine Dion would follow, to pay the bills, but Eric Carmen would eventually limp back to Cleveland, the one-time prodigal son now merely another prisoner of his Midwestern origins. Really, it's a story Fitzgerald, himself, could have told.

__________

As long as we're on a 'boats' kick, I don't remember reading this review before.

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