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Boats Against the Current, 35 years later


LC

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So it's been a full 35 years since Boats Against the Current finally hit record stores. (Remember those?) Even though we've all written various thoughts about that album here, its 35th anniversary merits more.

I remember, first, the months-long wait for Boats, which had been delayed forever, it seemed. What was taking so long? The hold-up, back then, was a mystery, but Eric himself clarified the reasons for the delay when he started posting tidbits about it here at EC.com a few years ago. Now we know what a grind the album was to write, play, produce, engineer, arrange, and mix. As much of a perfectionist as Eric is — and as unfortunate a choice as Gus Dudgeon was to serve as engineer — the delay was inevitable... and probably necessary for the record to turn out the way it did.

But in 1977, the wait was somewhat agonizing, don't you think? If you were already a fan back then, you couldn't wait. And I was already a fan.... My own appreciation of EC went like this:

1) "Go All the Way," as the first track on Raspberries' debut LP (my sister had it; I frequently borrowed it just to hear that one song).

2) "I Wanna Be With You," the 45 rpm single (remember those?). It was backed with "Goin' Nowhere Tonight," which didn't get a fair shake from me back then (though I love it now).

3) "All By Myself," the short-version single, as played a zillion times on AM radio in 1976, when I was 16 and was about to move out of state — just before my senior year of high school.

4) Eric's entire solo debut album, especially Side 1, beginning with "Sunrise."

5) The whole Raspberries Best Featuring Eric Carmen compilation rushed out by Capitol to capitalize on "All By Myself." (And yes, I still love the packaging of that LP — all those articles and clippings were pretty informative in pre-Internet days.)

6) The first Raspberries album in its entirety, beyond "Go All the Way." I found all those ballads ("I Saw the Light," "Waiting," "I Can Remember") to be pretty amazing.

After Boats came out, and just after starting college, I dug as deep as I could into the Raspberries catalog, picking up vinyl LP versions of Starting Over, then Side 3, and finally Fresh (I worked backwards, for some reason).

In the late summer (and fall) of 1977, however, it was Boats I studied most. I even remember the first listen. It arrived with a big shipment of records via a Record Theater truck that pulled up one weekday to the retail store my dad owned. (I was in charge of the record department, of course. :-) The traveling salesman, Joe, lifted the rear door of the truck open, reached into the nearest box, and pulled out Boats, much to my surprise. He knew I'd been waiting all summer long. Every week, I'd ask him, "Did the new Eric Carmen come in?" Every week, "Nope" — followed by my own "dammit..."

On the day Boats arrived, I finished the work day (we closed at 9 p.m.), then hustled home and immediately put it on the ol' turntable. I think I was expecting a "Go All the Way"-type lick to kick it off, so it was shocking to hear the very, very quiet strains of "Row Row Row Your Boat..." instead. "What the heck is this?" I thought.

I won't say I was disappointed, but I guess I was looking for something more uptempo. Instead, after playing the whole thing twice through, I found it to be deep and depressing and sad and gloomy — and totally cool. It was also literate and poetic at a time when we were hearing lots of disco, metal, arena rock, and the early strains of punk.

But, alas, Boats didn't become a mega-hit loaded with singles (like another album from the era, Billy Joel's The Stranger; see our "Boats Against the Stranger" thread). Nevertheless, it's a classic, albeit an undiscovered one, 35 years later.

PS: Bernie or anyone, do you know the exact release date of Boats?

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LC,

"August 1977" was the closest I was able to come up with an official release date for "Boats" when writing Eric Carmen: Marathon Man.

Billboard published their official review of the LP on August 27, 1977, but I'm not sure how close to the actual release date those reviews ran. Other than that, I'm not sure who even kept records of actual release dates (except for possibly the labels themselves).

Anyway, back when we were celebrating the 30th Anniversary of "Boats" and compiled our BOATS BLOG (http://ericcarmen.blogspot.com), Eric shared ALL of his working lyrics for the tune and I subsequently dissected them in the blog.

At the time, I painstakingly transcribed EVERY word in his hand-written notes. Here (for the first time) I'm re-printing ALL of Eric's earliest musings that led up to his MASTERPIECE! I love getting "under the hood" and observing his creative process. Thanks to Eric for saving (and sharing) his notebook. And without further ado...

A LYRICAL HISTORY OF BOATS

- - - -

Same

Blame

Name

Wind

Blinded by the

Regret

Wrong

Analyze

Nothing is fair

Maybe it's better

Substitute

Struggle

Perspective

Wait for the night time

Wait for the right time

Wait for the ending

Happiness fading

Nearer

Changin' the story

Don't look too closely

Dream of becoming

Never of being

Pride

When it's right

No one has to tell you

Nights seem longer

Empty smiles on _____ faces

There are only so many words

Find a new beginning

And try it one more time

Close another door

End another chapter

- - - -

Being

(Dis)Agreeing

Fleeing

Freeing

Guaranteeing

Overseeing

Seeing

Sincere

Clearer

Nearer

Build the wall a little higher

Achieving

(Dis)Believing

Deceiving

Leaving

Perceiving

Relieving

Retrieving

Clowns

Timing

Defeating

Cheating

Fleeting

Meeting

Repeating

Wind

Logic

Win

Thin

Been

In

Spin

Aggressive

Impressive

Oppressive

Possessive

And we wait for the next time

To begin

But the plot's been wearin' us thin

While we're waiting for some new story

To begin

And the plot's been wearin' us thin

Make up a reason

Must be a reason

Must be the season

But we seem to

Settle for less

- - - -

Must be the season

Must be a reason

Why we seem. . .

Must be the season

Must be a reason

Why we find ourselves repeating

Guess it's the season

Must be a reason

Why we find ourselves repeating

Guess it's the season

Must be the reason

'Cause it seems so self defeating

And we can't go on pretending

Nothing's wrong

And the nights are getting so long

- - - -

We're all alone in the end

We always try again [beginning, winning, pretend]

And we think somehow we're winning

Took us back to the beginning

Once again

But the politics of winning

- - - -

Thru the confusion (conclusion)

Cling to illusion (save, keep the -)

And protecting our illusions

To the end

Holding fast to our illusions

To the end

Holding onto our illusions

To the end

Then relinquish our illusions

To the end

And rejecting all solutions

While protecting our illusions

To the end

But you know it's hard to pretend

And rejecting true solutions

While protecting our illusions

Once again

Can't you see, it's starting to rain

- - - -

Book

Took

The last horizon

Comprehending

Runnin' out of places to look

And you know there's

Nowhere to look

But we won't go on pretending

But we still go on pretending

And we try to change to ending

We can always keep pretending

I know it's over

You know it's over

But we just go on pretending

I know it's over

You know it's over

But the story isn't ending

And we find ourselves pretending

Once more day

And the years are slippin' away

So we find ourselves pretending

One more day

And the chance is slippin' away

So we find ourselves pretending

One more day

And the years keep fadin' away

So we find ourselves pretending

One more day

And the years keep slippin' away

And we keep remembering when...

Seasons are changin'

Reasons are changin'

- - - -

Changing partners

Passion

Fashion

Future eludes us

Mem'ries delude us

But we cling to our illusions

While we draw the same conclusions

[While we reach the same conclusions]

Once again

And you know it's hard to pretend

Maybe we're older

Maybe we're colder

So we cling to our illusion

Seeking future absolution

From the pain

Analyze

Maybe we're older

Maybe we're colder

Lost the will to find solutions

While we cling to our illusions

Maybe we're older

Maybe we're colder

So we disregard solutions

While we cling to our illusions

Once again

And you know it's hard to pretend

- - - -

Solution

Conclusion

Confusion

We can compromise perfection

If you [we] can compromise perfection

(But) Then you lose the whole direction

In the end

And you know it's hard to pretend

We can make a resolution

Competition

But it won't be truth

It's like lookin' in a yearbook

For your vanished youth

- - - -

My eyes are open

I'll think it over

Take a vacation

Make a selection

Change of direction

Make a correction

I know it's over [C-C-C-E-C] C

You know it's over [b-B-B-C-G] Em/B

We're just goin' thru the motions [E-G-A-G-G-G] Em

[While we] But we're salin' seperate oceans ["]

Worlds apart [D-C-E]

And you know it's breakin' my heart [C-C-E-E-D-C-A-C]

I was a dreamer (idealist) I want perfection

You were a dreamer

But perfection is consuming

[but compromise is consuming]

But the air could use perfuming

But it seems we're only human

'Cause it seems we're only human

And it seems we're only human

After all

And we've both been takin' the fall

What's the point

- - - -

1.

I know it's over

You know it's over

We're just goin' thru the motions

But we're sailin' seperate oceans

Worlds apart

And you know it's breakin' my heart

2.

Second verse

Bridge

(last like says)

But that doesn't matter cause...

Tomorrow

We'll run a little but faster

Tomorrow

We're gonna know what we're after

At last

[We're gonna join in the laughter

At last]

[We're gonna find what we're after

At last]

Dreams are forever [never]

- - - -

Slip into the past, but then again

Reach into the past, but then again

Find another dream again, but then when

Maybe there's a chance

But tomorrow

We'll run a little bit faster

Tomorrow

We're gonna find what we're after

At last

[Moments that have passed]

And even when the dream has passed

Maybe we can laugh again

Maybe we can feel again

There's romance in the sunset

We're boats against the current

To the end

(And)

But tomorrow

We'll run a little bit faster

Tomorrow

We're gonna find what we're after

At last

Feelings that we left in the past

[Feelings that we lost in the past]

- - - -

Boats Against The Current

1.

I know it's over

You know it's over

We're just goin' through the motions

But we're sailin' sep'rate oceans

worlds apart

And you know it's breakin' my heart

[waiting for a moment that's passed]

2.

Dreams are forever

Never say never

But perfection is consuming

And it seems we're only human

After all

And we've both been takin' the fall

[but tomorrow

We'll run a little bit faster

Tomorrow

We're gonna find what we're after

At last]

[We're gonna find that the future

Has passed]

[We're gonna find that the moment

Has passed]

[When we remember the dreams

of the past]

- - - -

1.

I know it's over

You know it's over

We're just goin' thru the motions

But we're sailin' separate oceans

World apart

And you know it's breakin' my heart

I was a dreamer

You were a dreamer

But perfection is consuming

And it seems we're only human

After all

And we've both been takin' the fall

Chorus

But tomorrow

We'll run a little bit faster

Tomorrow

We're gonna find what we're after

At last

Feelings that we left in the past...

there's romance in the sunset

We're boats against the current

To the end

2.

Maybe we're older

Maybe we're colder

So we disregard solutions

While we cling to our illusions

Once again

And you know it's hard to pretend

[And we keep remembering when...]

- - - -

Seasons are changing

Reasons are changing

But the story isn't ending

So we find ourselves pretending

One more day

And the years keep slippin' away

- - - -

Bernie

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It's just amazing that we get this chance to view Eric's creative process. Many thanks to Eric and Bernie!

As I read this, the memory of an applauding Ringo Starr as he walked across the stage toward Eric at the conclusion of Boats in Atlanta comes to mind.

I also think about that wordsmith in english class who has the teacher almost literally freaking out as he displays his natural talents. Yea, we know he's smart, the rest of us think, now only 8 1/2 minutes until the bell.

This "look under the hood" gives us a glimpse of the painstaking work - the craft - of a world class artist as he creates a song for us all to enjoy.

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I won't say I was disappointed, but I guess I was looking for something more uptempo. Instead, after playing the whole thing twice through, I found it to be deep and depressing and sad and gloomy — and totally cool. It was also literate and poetic at a time when we were hearing lots of disco, metal, arena rock, and the early strains of punk.

Pretty much exactly my first reaction. Though I knew the song "Boats..." was a gem at first listen, the rest of the album I wasn't so sure of. Like you LC I was expecting something ala the first solo. I was also hoping for a harder edge (see Side 3 and "No Hard Feelings") on the album.

But after a few listens "Boats.." soon became my favorite album of alltime. The melodies might not have been up to par with the first solo (though there's never been a better melody than the song "Boats..."), but the album "Boats..." is more intimate, it's more me, I feel a closeness to it for some reason,...thus it's my favorite.

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PS: Bernie or anyone, do you know the exact release date of Boats?

I remember my first day of college at TCU was August 29, 1977. I also remember taking off via car about 4-5 days prior to that date to get moved in, registered etc.

And I remember the day we left for TCU was the day "Boats.." hit the record stores. So if my memory is right (it could be off) "Boats.." would have been released around August 25 or so.

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My chronolgy is:

1. Saw Eric Carmen live backing up America Spring, 1976...I'll never forget what Eric said to the audience toward the end of the show, when the fans weren't getting into it as you'd think they would have:

"OK Columbus, this is your last chance to get off your ass"...

I didn't cuss in those days, but I loved the line!

2. Finding out my older cousin had seen The Raspberries in concert, hearing his take (he loved the show) on the show... and finally him letting me listen to Eric's first solo album that he'd purchased.

3. Buying Eric's first solo album immediately after that first listen. I had liked "ABM" on the radio but not enough to buy the album. "ABM" has never been one of my Eric Carmen favorites, though I love the song.

4. After getting into the genius of the first album, I quickly went out and bought the "Best Of" Featuring Eric Carmen...the same one LC referred to. I also loved the voluminous liner notes! AND...back then I liked THAT "Best Of" even better than the first solo. It was a great collection of Eric written tunes from the 4 Raspberry albums.

5. After getting into the first solo and the "Best Of"...I quickly went out and bought all 4 Raspberry albums. I loved them all. I remember being floored by "If You Change Your Mind", "Cruisin Music", "All Through The Night" and "On The Beach" (as they weren't on the "Best Of" album).

6. Then the long Summer of 1977 wait for "Boats..". Pretty much the same story as LC except instead of the delivery man, I searched Billboard and the the dudes working at the "Eagles Nest" (our local record store) weekly for any news of a release.

I'd known it was coming since probably Spring or early Summer but the wait!!! Argh!!

Anyway, it finally came, I loved it, I proselytized it (successfully) to two friends at college ..

...and the rest is history.

It wasn't long after this that I took on the responsibilities of The James Harem. I didn't know what I was getting into......

frown

TO BE CONTINUED...

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WOW! I mean WOW! I've read this comment 3 times just to take in what it was all about.

I'm amazed!

I'm mesmerized!

I’m intrigued!

I am indeed in awe...

This is beyond the scope of anything I can imagine about writing a song.

Thanks Bernie for this awesome insight. I'm sure many, many of those on here who really like to discuss Eric's music in detail will appreciate this.

This is so COOL!!!!!!!!!!!!

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Pure genius! Thanks for that blow by blow account of Eric's lyrical musings, Bernie!!

I was in on the Raspberries as early as any west coast fan...had bought everything in sight since the beginning and had seen Raspberries and Eric at least 6 times by the release of 'Boats'.

Every time we've talked about 'Boats' I've said it wasn't as accessible as his first solo album- a real shock to the system. Then, not too long ago, I found a post where Eric used the same term to describe this album, so I'm going to stick with that descriptor.

I was in the worst possible way when 'Boats' came out. I was in the middle of a break up with my 'Raspberries' girlfriend, and 'Boats' just about took me out. I survived, and have come to appreciate this album more over the years. The title song is one of the best songs ever written by anyone, period. But, some of the other songs were competing against inspiration from one of the most gifted composers of the romantic period of music (Rachmaninoff) and Eric's own backlog of compositions that were just waiting for his first solo release; in comparison, some of the tunes Eric penned for his storytelling on 'Boats' weren't as infectious on first listen, or even the second or third. None of this detracts from this album 35 years later- like fine wine, it just gets better with age.

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All I can say is I am DUMBFOUNDED as the meticulous process Eric must go thru in his songwriting. I am uncertain whether Eric loves the process or is driven nuts by it...OR BOTH!

"Perfection is consuming..."

Thanks to Bernie and Eric for sharing this very intimate look at the bones of his masterpiece.

smart Jean

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Bernie, that's awesome. Thank you. I have a bunch of comments on Eric's "developmental" lyrics to "Boats," but am swamped right now. I will come back and post more in a while, but I do think there are some definitive clues in there re: the "optimistic vs. pessimistic" argument that filled an earlier thread on Boats.

As someone who's always worked in publishing and editing and writing, I sure appreciate the process that Eric followed in writing such poetic lyrics. I know (at least, I think I know) from what he has said in interviews that the melody came to him overnight, in his sleep (a la McCartney and "Yesterday"), but clearly, he worked over the lyric until it was perfect.

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Not sure this is an "official" release date, and it's hazy from memory but... I had just started college, the end of August 1977. The school was just down the road from our local mall and on Tuesdays (I think) I'd hit the mall to check to see if Eric's new album had finally come out... that week I was about to enter Camelot Music and saw the album... it was in a cut out stand up display as I recall with maybe four facings (could have been more) of the album there prominently displayed. Likely the biggest display Eric ever had in a non-major market, and likely the most initial support he might receive from Arista.

Like many of you here, I was stunned at the opening strains... but initially mesmerized by the song. Though many of my Eric/Raspberries favorites are the "harder" tunes, I immediately fell in love with the title cut. I was surprised when She Did It was released as the fist single; it was and is still to me the most generic song on the album. Of course that in a nutshell was the later history between Clive and Eric it seems... Eric creates musical masterpieces and Clive panders to the lowest common denominator.

I will never forget the day I bought this album... unlike many others... nor will I ever forget getting to see Eric (finally) perform the song live during a "break" at the Ringo tour in Ft. Lauderdale... Eric and the piano and nothing else... it was easy immediately to recognize those of us who were there because Eric was there... and it was amazing to witness stunned silence turn into a standing ovation.

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Hey guys! I know I haven't posted much lately, but I just couldn't pass up the opportunity to comment on my favorite Eric Carmen composition. Wow...35 years since the release of Boats! Yet to me, BATC is just as beautiful, masterful, and timeless today, as it was from the first moment I listened to this magnificently, poetic song. That moment will forever be ingrained in my memory...It literally stopped me in my tracks and brought me to tears. My only regret is that I wish I had been fortunate enough to have found this treasure 35 years ago.

I suppose when you really, truly love something or someone enough, you want to find out every little detail you possibly can about the thing or person you are so enamored with. And Eric Carmen, his music, and especially this song, are no exceptions for me. I remember the first time I read the "Boats Blog", I was utterly fascinated with the hand-written working lyrics Bernie posted, and proceeded to decipher. It felt so cool to be able to briefly peek into the psyche and state of mind of an artist I genuinely consider to be a genius, at the very moments he was brainstorming to find just the perfect combination of impeccable lyrics for this song. Now that Bernie has posted ALL of Eric's notes on BATC, it's even more apparent of what a painstakingly meticulous process it really was.

Thank you SO much Bernie for letting me delve a little further into Eric's head, and the process he followed for the creation of BATC. Also, thank you, LC, for once again recognizing this amazing song on the thirty-fifth birthday of its release. Like you, with Bernie's addition of these other notes, I have some further ponderings on the optimist vs. pessimist subjectification of the song. I look forward to reading your thoughts on this matter.

Most of all, thank you to Eric heartpump, for your amazing fortitude when pursing perfection in your music, and for remembering that fateful dream which provided the melody that would put all of the pieces together, to culminate in one hell of a commendable achievement of a lifetime...Truly one of your finest hours.

Once again, Happy Birthday, Boats Against The Current! Although to me, it doesn't matter if the song is one, thirty-five, or one hundred years-old...It's a timeless song I know I'll treasure for a lifetime, and one I feel confident others will treasure long after I'm gone.

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OMG......Bernie, you let us into the mind of a genius! Watching his mind come up with a perfect song was absolutely amazing. Like EC once said "I liken writing a song to being a shoemaker." He said something to the effect that after you've done it for a while, you never make a bad pair of shoes. You either make a good pair of shoes or a great pair of shoes. Mr. Carmen, you don't write good songs, you write GREAT songs! I certainly wish you were still touring. Come to Kansas. I (and probably a lot of other people) would love to see and hear you! You would be so very welcomed here & anywhere you'd choose to go.

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Bernie: Billboard's review of "Boats" dated Saturday, August 27, 1977, coincides with the 'week ending' date that "She Did It" hit the Hot 100 chart, Aug. 21-27. So the LP had to have been released in mid-August, probably that very same week or perhaps the week just before that?

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Paulie: The Top 40 charts prove that Mr. Davis knew exactly what he was doing when he chose the first single from "Boats"! "She Did It" reached #23 Billboard and #15 Cash Box; the title track hit #88 Billboard and #92 Cash Box, masterpiece status notwithstanding.

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LC - Thanks for starting this thread. Here's how my appreciation of EC grew:

1. Before I heard about Boats, at age 13, "She Did It" instantly became the best song I had ever heard in my life (replacing "Undercover Angel", which had replaced "Silly Love Songs"). "She Did It" was the catalyst for #2 through #5 on this list. And 35 years later, it is STILL my all-time favorite song! (And I have since lived its story.)

2. I bought Boats, played it all and enjoyed every song, especially the title track.

3. I then gained much greater appreciation for Eric's more doleful hits from the year before which had not yet made a huge impact on me at age 12.

4. I was electrified when I noticed Eric's name on my 45s of both "That's Rock 'n Roll" & then "Hey Deanie," identifying him as Shaun Cassidy's main songwriter! So then I was compelled to purchase his 'gold' debut LP so I could hear Eric's original and satisfy my "hungry ears"!

5. THEN, working backwards and being clueless about the Raspberries, I was totally blown away when I discovered them! I had heard "Go All the Way" on WLS in Chicago but didn't know it was Eric singing until I recognized his picture on a Raspberries album in my local record store. I felt I had discovered a gold mine! I marveled at how he could have made so much music history and still be just in his 20's.

6. Change of Heart was also a very enjoyable album (not overlooking Samantha Sang's cover of the title track), followed by all of Eric's exciting '80s accomplishments which are too numerous to recount in this brief post!

Eric, an extra special thank you for "Boats"!

*** fireworks display!!! ***

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Bernie: Billboard's review of "Boats" dated Saturday, August 27, 1977, coincides with the 'week ending' date that "She Did It" hit the Hot 100 chart, Aug. 21-27. So the LP had to have been released in mid-August, probably that very same week or perhaps the week just before that?

Very often the single was released before the album, so it's hard to say with certainty where the LP release fell vs. the single.

Bernie

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Originally Posted By: Les R.
Bernie: Billboard's review of "Boats" dated Saturday, August 27, 1977, coincides with the 'week ending' date that "She Did It" hit the Hot 100 chart, Aug. 21-27. So the LP had to have been released in mid-August, probably that very same week or perhaps the week just before that?

Very often the single was released before the album, so it's hard to say with certainty where the LP release fell vs. the single.

Bernie

Just to add a little more (confusion) to the subject, I got out my press kit from BATC...included in it was the Cleveland-Akron May 1977 issue of Phonograph Record Magazine (free from WMMS fm). In it they wrote, "By June, after the album and single (another ballad, possibly the title cut) have shipped..." I don't know when the May '77 issue of this magazine went to press, but they were still guessing on a release date and the first single.

Another piece included in the press kit is from the August 4, 1977 issue of Circus. In it, Eric talks about the two choices for the new single- either BATC or She Did It. Circus was a bi-weekly music mag, so it probably didn't hit the presses too much before the issue date. It looks as if things were still up in the air in late July or early August.

I know this doesn't clarify anything, but it gives me a good excuse to dig out some of my Eric Carmen goodies, and that's always a good thing smile

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LC,

...back when we were celebrating the 30th Anniversary of "Boats" and compiled our BOATS BLOG (http://ericcarmen.blogspot.com), Eric shared ALL of his working lyrics for the tune and I subsequently dissected them in the blog.

At the time, I painstakingly transcribed EVERY word in his hand-written notes. Here (for the first time) I'm re-printing ALL of Eric's earliest musings that led up to his MASTERPIECE! I love getting "under the hood" and observing his creative process. Thanks to Eric for saving (and sharing) his notebook.

Bernie

Boats threads never disappoint. I've been tied up for a few days but wanted to respond to some of the great comments here, starting with this one. Man, Bernie, those notes on p. 1 are really fun to pore over. Thanks! (I'd love to see the "Nowhere to Hide" process, too.)

One thing about Eric's early "Boats" drafts: For years, as we discussed in other threads, I heard "Boats" as a depressing song built around a core of optimism. (As you once said, Bernie, "The glass if half full, dammit!") My best ammo was: "We're gonna find what we're after at last," and "There's romance in the sunset."

When many other fans said they heard "Boats" as depressing with no glimmer of hope, I was forced to re-access it. I eventually (and begrudgingly) landed on the pessimists' side. Sure, the song's subjects will find what they're after, but not with each other — with someone else, if they're lucky. And the sunset was in the past.

So in terms of describing a broken-down relationship, "Boats" really is hopeless. Some of the early lines in Eric's draft back up the pessimistic side: "Find a new beginning/And try it one more time." And... "We're all alone in the end." Yikes. Get the noose out.

Besides, it wasn't really open to interpretation anyway. Eric himself has described it as a song to commit suicide by, or something like that. (Or was that "All By Myself"?)

Of course, Eric has also said that "Boats" isn't even about a romance; it's about the end of the Carmen/Ienner working relationship. Well, when you read all the early lyrics, all you can deduce is that the Ienner thing only served as the inspiration for the song. Everything Eric wrote in building the song sure sounds like a romance gone wrong, not a producer and recording artist going separate ways.

Eric's early verses and false starts and stream-of-conscious thoughts can only be describing a romantic relationship that you sunk your heart into — only to have it busted into a million pieces. Or the end of a marriage or long-termer that you thought would last — only to get derailed by some [fill in the blank] who ripped out your heart and broke your spirit.

Well, I do think there's still optimism in "Boats," if you can accept the idea that whatever you find down the road will be as good as or better than what you lost. But it takes some real focused "optimizing" to get there.

Ultimately, it's hard to think of a song that "nails heartbreak to the wall" with as much craft and perfection as "Boats."

(That "nails heartbreak to the wall" quote, by the way, comes from a Time reviewer's description of Jackson Browne's "Shape of a Heart" — I've always remembered that line.)

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It's just amazing that we get this chance to view Eric's creative process. Many thanks to Eric and Bernie!

As I read this, the memory of an applauding Ringo Starr as he walked across the stage toward Eric at the conclusion of Boats in Atlanta comes to mind.

I also think about that wordsmith in english class who has the teacher almost literally freaking out as he displays his natural talents. Yea, we know he's smart, the rest of us think, now only 8 1/2 minutes until the bell.

This "look under the hood" gives us a glimpse of the painstaking work - the craft - of a world class artist as he creates a song for us all to enjoy.

That Atlanta moment when Eric played "Boats" live — man, I wish that were available on a video. Or at least audio. It must have been such a pleasant surprise to have been there in the audience to hear such an underappreciated song.

I'd still love to know whether Ringo knew the song before the tour (I'm guessing not), or if he had Eric "audition" it, or if it was simply up to Eric to play what he wanted. Whatever, it's a credit to Ringo for giving Eric the spotlight there. Bernie may have posted or published the answer to how it came about, but I don't remember reading it. I do remember reading, though, that Ringo was quite taken with the performance.

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I remember my first day of college at TCU was August 29, 1977. I also remember taking off via car about 4-5 days prior to that date to get moved in, registered etc.

And I remember the day we left for TCU was the day "Boats..." hit the record stores. So if my memory is right (it could be off) "Boats.." would have been released around August 25 or so.

This was an interesting recollection, James, and I'm glad you posted it. It got me thinking about those days leading up to the start of my own college career (it was a huge thing, preparing to move out "the nest").

I started college the same summer, 1977, and it most certainly was that same week you did, I looked it up (www.timeanddate.com) and found that Aug. 29 was a Monday. I may have had an orientation that weekend, maybe Saturday. And it was a week or so before that when I got the Boats album; it was the night before a big party one of my classmates threw — it was sort of a delayed-graduation/good-luck-at-school party. It probably would have been Friday or Saturdays (the 19th or 20th). So I'm thinking Boats hit record stores (at least the one where I was working) the week beginning Aug. 15. I wanna say Tuesdays were typically the release days for new records, but I don't know where I'm getting that from. Might just be stored in my mind from working in music publishing a while...? Or I could be off. But that would put Boats' release date on Aug . 16.

(Some might think, Who cares? But... it's just nice to know!)

Les R., you noted that Billboard reviewed Boats in its Aug. 27 issue. No doubt the magazine was compiled around three weeks prior to the publishing date back then, which fits the scenario. The media always got advance copies of albums, sometimes weeks before they hit stores. So Billboard's editors likely had Boats in hand in mid or late July.

And as Bernie pointed out, a single typically hit DJs and reviewers well before the album. But in this case, I don't remember "She Did It" getting to our ears much before the album arrived. It was either slow to chart — or it was held up along with the rest of the album.

PS: I also dig "She Did It," Les, though it wasn't an instant dig for me. But it really is an awesome pop number. I love that first line: "Set to sea on a ship called Emptiness, Cast away on the island of Loneliness..." Who writes like that?

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Everything Eric wrote in building the song sure sounds like a romance gone wrong, not a producer and recording artist going separate ways.

This song is relatively new to me...but this is the way I feel when I hear the song.

BTW, LC. Did I ever tell you that I just LOVE when you post? I get all "happy" when I see a new post from you. Always worth the time to read one, long or short. smile

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