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Desperate Fools


elle4ec

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Duane said:

BTW...why does everybody think it would be so depressing to be stuck on this deserted tropical island? With all the stress and strain of everyday life, I would think a little alone time on the island would be welcome. If I had food and water, I probably wouldn't even wave at a passing ship for a year or two...

I'd miss my wife and children.

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marvin said:

EXACTLY what I mean! "Boats" is a great album, but if I'm going to be on a deserted island, I certainly wouldn't want it to be the only album that I have with me.

Marv...I certainly wouldn't WANT to only have one album (I would beg for my Zune with all the EC solo albums and all the other music that is dear to me). James said, "if he could keep only one album" and thus started this. Most people would agonize over that decision...I wouldn't even have to think about it. For me, it's not even close. Where I would have to agonize is if you told me I could keep 2...or 5...or 10 albums. Making those cuts would be gut wrenching. But, if the rule is one...I'll take my BATC and get out of the way.

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marvin said:

I'd miss my wife and children.

After awhile, I probably would too.

Although...I don't really know your wife and children...so maybe I wouldn't!!! :P:lol:

Marv...you just had to be serious and make me feel guilty, didn't ya? I have only one child. He's grown (25) and although the big ox pushes me around like I'm a rag doll (which I am not), I guess I would miss him. My wife tells me I would miss her, too. I should have said I wouldn't wave at a passing ship for a day or two instead of year(s). ;)

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MJ said:

I still want to know how the album isn't going to melt on the island....and if Gilligan or the Skipper will be pedaling to run the phonograph in the first place!!!! Tell me that Larry!

MJ...MJ...MJ...it's the 21st century...nobody does vinyl any more! We'll have solar powered ipods, of course. :P

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Duane certainly everyone is entitled to their opinion, and I've never denied the importance of "BATC" in Eric's career. Some rank it higher than I do because obviously it's touched an emotional nerve for them. Isn't that what music should do? If it can move you, you have rewarded the artist and made them feel that their vision was justified.

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I'm so glad I started this "Desperate Fools" thread! And even though I love the song, I'm sort of happy things have gotten off track! For me, it has been fascinating learning first-hand everything you had to go through, Eric, for the "Boats Against The Current" Album to be completed. Now, every time I hear the song "Marathon Man" - I'll think of all of those "marathon" recording sessions you endured! Bet you didn't know at the time how fitting that title would be!

So,I just wanted to let you know how much I appreciate all of the time and sacrifices you've made in order to be able to share your talents with us. Words could never do justice in telling you what your music has meant to the heart of a music lover like myself!

I have more respect for you now than ever!

Thanks so much for all of your input! What started out as a "Desperate Fools" thread, ended up making me feel like one "lucky fool" - A lucky fool who treasures her "Boats Against The Current" album even more, especially after everything I've learned from your posts!

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marvin said:

Duane certainly everyone is entitled to their opinion, and I've never denied the importance of "BATC" in Eric's career. Some rank it higher than I do because obviously it's touched an emotional nerve for them. Isn't that what music should do? If it can move you, you have rewarded the artist and made them feel that their vision was justified.

Marv...very well said...I agree wholeheartedly...like Larry said, "there is no wrong answer". I hope I didn't come off like I was trying to push my opinion of BATC on you (or anybody). I was just professing my love for that album. There's a lot of music that's special to me...but nothing has moved me like BATC. That said, my opinion of BATC is really only important to...me. I just like talking about it every once in awhile. It's perfectly OK with me if BATC doesn't move you like it does me...I'm sure there's music that moves you that doesn't me. Like you said, it's a very personal thing. I respect that and I respect you. I didn't take it that you were slamming BATC...just discussing it. Sorry if it sounded otherwise.

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marvin said:

I left Arista records, after the complete lack of promotion of the "Tonight You're Mine" album, in disgust. ...

One of the mysteries of life. THE album (in my opinion) that should have won you the 'rock' audience, with "It Hurts Too Much" hitting the top. Even our local FM station CHOM-FM in Mtl loved the album. They featured it on their "Best New Releases Of the Week" show, and put "You Need Some Loving" in regular rotation

The "Tron" style album cover probably didn't help matters! :wacko:

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Anna, that was great! I'm glad you got off the island before you had a 'Change of Heart' :lol:

I get where Raspathens is coming from. For me, "Boats" has everything Eric intended to imbrue. In addition, I was between my original "Raspberries" girlfriend and my future wife. This album could not have impacted me any deeper. Prozac and a noose were not too far away from my reality at the time!

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elle4ec said:

I'm so glad I started this "Desperate Fools" thread! And even though I love the song, I'm sort of happy things have gotten off track! For me, it has been fascinating learning first-hand everything you had to go through, Eric, for the "Boats Against The Current" Album to be completed. Now, every time I hear the song "Marathon Man" - I'll think of all of those "marathon" recording sessions you endured!

Elle, I'm glad you started this thread too. Gracias. It's funny -- the last time we had a Desperate Fools thread, it got Eric talking about Boats, too, and that's when he revealed, casually, that he originally intended for the songs on Boats to go in reverse order of what they are.

Must me something about the phrase "Desperate Fools" that gets Eric thinking about the Boats experience (and Gus!).

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Eric Carmen said:

"Desperate Fools" was the song I intended to be the title track of my third solo album. Clive thought it was "too negative' and insisted on changing the album title to "Change Of Heart."

"Change Of Heart" is a good song, but "Desperate Fools" was the "career" song. I've always believed that if Clive had really promoted "Boats Against The Current," and released "Desperate Fools" as the single, instead of "Change Of Heart", I might have had a different career.

"She Did It" and "Change O Heart" were good, but not career makers.

Eric, if you're still reading this thread, I have a few questions:

Do you ever think you'd have been better off (career-wise) to have given in to Clive and Gus on BATC? I know the album was very personal to you and you knew how it was supposed to sound, but...was it worth the fight? Was everything you had to go through to get the album to sound "remotely" the way you wanted it to worth what it cost you financially and career-wise? While I, and many here, feel Boats is a masterpiece...would we have really known if compromises were made? I know that "perfection is consuming", but do you ever think that you were fighting for quality that most people would never have noticed? (especially since it was going to be released on vinyl and 8-tracks) Could you have lived with the compromises if it meant BATC was a commercial success? Do you think BATC would have fared better on the charts if it had been released earlier? Do you think the extended time between albums was more of the problem or was it mostly due to Clive's failure to promote BATC? Do you think he would have better promoted it if you had let him have his way on the production?...or if it had come in on budget and on time? Do you think he had a purpose to NOT promote Boats?

I don't know Clive Davis or his mindset, I only know what I've read you and others say, but...What was Clive's motivation to promote BATC? If Boats had been a success, it would've meant that you were right and he was wrong. That doesn't sound like the guy you've described. If he were the vindictive sort, the argument could be made that he would have rather seen BATC fail than have to admit that some young upstart artist knew better than him. As you said, "The music business ( just in case you haven't noticed ) is all about politics. Often, there are unseen forces at play, that determine the success or failure of a record".

Does any of this matter? Does having a few people think so highly of "your" BATC mean more to you than if you had "sold out" and prospered? Is having "your" BATC out there the most important thing to you...even if nobody thought highly of it? In a selfish way, I'm glad you didn't "sell out"...but I can't help thinking your career would have been much different if you had.

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Here's the simple answer. Every great artist that I know of has been unyielding in his or her vision. I'm thinking about Madonna and Bruce Springsteen, right off the top of my head. They never let a "suit' tell them what to do. Can you imagine some bean counter telling the Beatles that Sgt Pepper needs more background vocals or more echo on the snare drum? Or how about some Capitol A& R guy telling Brian Wilson he doesn't like the mix he did on "Good Vibrations?" Or that it has too many "parts" or too much reverb on the vocal.

What I've learned is that the artist knows better than anyone else what his music should sound like. You shouldn't have to fight the producer and fight the label to bring your vision to the public. The first time a record executive tells you what to do, the smartest thing you can do is tell him to f%#k off. Once you let them see you're willing to compromise, or take direction, you're finished.

If I had it to do over again, I would have produced the record myself from the beginning, and never let anyone interfere with it.

I couldn't sell out to Clive to have Barry's success. It wasn't worth it to me. Then or now.

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Personally, I am so glad you didn't "sell out", Eric. While I wish with all of my heart that some things had gone differently for you at key times of your career, if you had given in to someone Else's vision, I don't think many of us who truly appreciate the impeccable quality of your work would be here today.

If the true perfectionist is who I think you are, I'll say you already said "Everything" that your heart already knew even before the "Boats Against The Current" album:

Everything
(Eric Carmen)

"You just strap on that guitar
And you can make yourself a star
And look at everything
With a jaded nonchalance

You've got money, you've got fame
You've got coast-to-coast acclaim
You've got everything
That a man could ever want

Everything"

Yes, you could have easily had even more of "Everything".....yet still be left with nothing true to your personal vision or infinite talent...nothing to truly be proud of. It takes a bigger person not to sell out.

In the end, the results speak for themselves.

Timeless, masterful music. Eric Carmen's Music.

Now that's "Everything" worth being proud of.

...That's "Everything" to last a lifetime...

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  • 13 years later...
On 1/10/2009 at 7:05 PM, Eric Carmen said:

Here's a little tidbit.

When I signed on with Gus, we discussed the possibility of having Elton and I play two pianos, together, on "Boats Against The Current." He told me he had spoken to Elton and Elton had agreed to do it. I had asked James Newton Howard to do the string arrangements for "Boats" and "She Did It," as well.

A couple of weeks into the recording, in London, I went to the opening of an art exhibit with Gus, and, at the party afterwards, he told me that he and Elton had had a falling out, and had just split up. I remember thinking "There goes the my second piano. Bummer."

 

Bump! Maybe the best thread ever to appear here.

For newer members who haven't seen this thread, the site's namesake shows up and delivers a number of powerful posts. The thread started as a discussion of the song "Desperate Fools" but evolved into a seminar on The Making of Boats Against the Current, fueled by. Eric's no-holds-barred recollections of that period of time. This is EC.com at its best. (Except for a few silly asides that pop up from a former poster who threatened to derail the roll Eric was on; read past 'em.)  

The net-net here is: If you already love Boats Against the Current, you'll become even more impressed with it.

PS: Eric, if you're out there reading, come on back and share more war stories! Your insights put some great music in context in a way you won't find anywhere else. 

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LC: Great bump...very entertaining for a morning coffee. The Elton/Eric connection is stronger than I had already suspected. How great to read Eric's posts, and his interactions with you and other posters. People certainly had some strong opinions here...Thx!

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PS.  I have read some of this thread earlier, but a re-read brought out some interesting points re: some of the members/posters whose opinions and posts I have come to respect and so always good to give another couple reads.  I didn't remember the part about Elton being considered on  as a second piano on EC album.

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Yes! I thought the dual-piano concept was so interesting. It might have been a boost to sales if Elton had appeared on the album. He was just past that peak period that gave us Madman, Honky Chateau, Don't Shoot Me, Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, Caribou, Captain Fantastic, Rock of the Westies, and Blue Moves—eight great to very-good albums—all between 1971 and October 1976. And he didn't release an album in 1977. So... the stars were aligned enough. 

Alas, Boats didn't sell well, and Elton's next album, A Single Man in 1978, was a relative bust compared to his earlier works. Sometimes, the universe just works that way.

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Side note re: There was a little discussion re: Gus Dudgeon's death in this thread. (for those who don't know, Gus was the producer that left Eric mid- project on Boats). Gus and his wife died a very tragic death:

On 21 July 2002, Dudgeon and his wife, Sheila, died when their Jaguar veered off the M4 between Reading and Maidenhead. The inquest recorded a verdict of accidental death, noting that he was intoxicated and had possibly fallen asleep at the wheel while driving well in excess of the speed limit. He and his wife both suffered severe head injuries and were trapped in the car, which landed in a storm drain, and may have drowned.

Bernie posted a similar post but the details weren't released then. Very tragic. Even though Gus and Eric didn't hit it off, Gus was a brilliant recording engineer but definitely had his own thoughts on how to put songs together. I watched a couple of documentaries on how Gus put together some of Elton's earlier albums. Basically, Elton had very little to do with it. He came in and did his part and then his band members did the backup vocals and he left. But that was in earlier days. In his later years he definitely had major input in the arrangements of his songs. I totally side with Eric that the artist should have the greatest input on the song. They wrote it, they know what the song is about, and most artists (not all) already have the outcome in their head of how the final product should sound. Eric stood up for his songs, I totally respect that!

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