Jump to content

"All by Myself" vs. "Boats Against the Current"


LC

Recommended Posts

Here's one for you all: Eric Carmen's most popular (and lucrative) song vs. his most criminally overlooked masterpiece. Listen to them uninterrupted, back-to-back, all the way through, and soak 'em in. Then try to pick a favorite. One is the centerpiece of his first album (and maybe should have been the title of the album), the other is the title track of his second release. So they were written within a two-year span.

"All By Myself" seems like an obvious favorite, at least to casual listeners and non-fans. But for me, "Boats Against the Current" emerges as my unequivocal choice. The lyric is way deeper and more powerful — to me, it stands as poetry. Every word fits.

And the music itself is inspired. It's not surprising that "Boats" came to Eric in his sleep, as sometimes happens with the best artists. Everyone knows "Yesterday" came to Paul McCartney in his sleep. A lesser-known example: John Stewart woke up one morning with the inspiring "Ticket to the Stars" in his head. (Rhonda will appreciate that!)

As for "All By Myself" — yes, it's an iconic piece of pop music. But it's just not at the level of "Boats," for me — not even with Sergei Rachmaninoff's "contribution." My preference for "Boats" isn't just a case of overexposure, either. Well, maybe that does come into play, considering it became one of the most-covered songs of our generation. No argument that it's an emotion-packed song delivered and played perfectly by the writer. But "Boats" is such an intelligent, multi-level, searing song that it's among my top 10 or so recorded by anybody, ever.

Anyway, take 12 minutes and re-review... and pop back in with your opinion.

 

 

 

  • Like 1
  • Thanks 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

LC, I have found that, excluding first generation fans, BATC is usually the song that people cite as the reason they discovered and love Eric's music. I think that speaks volumes for Boats. I also think it is Eric's best song. Period.

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

 "My preference for "Boats" isn't just a case of overexposure, either. Well, maybe that does come into play, considering it became one of the most-covered songs of our generation."

 

That's what makes this a very difficult choice. I am sure that on a subconscious level, the amount of times we've heard ABM has worn on us a little. What I can say, is that when I was a 45 buying kid, and before I knew that Eric and Raspberries were linked, I bought ABM and thought it was outstanding...one of the prize 45's in my collection. I''ve always loved it. THEN, I discovered Raspberries and THEN I bought everything related to Eric. I discovered the long version of ABM and I discovered BATC. I loved Boats every bit as much as ABM the first time I heard it. I force fed it into the ears of anyone who would listen. BUT, if I'm forced to choose, ABM win with a photo finish.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Ah, those old 45s. You could stick one on the turntable and let it automatically repeat ad nauseam. That was a factor for me — and so was Top 40 radio. "ABM" was in heavy rotation where I lived, which was amazing because the first few notes are so soft and low-volume, yet it enough to make the song a grabber. "Boats" has a similarly subtle opening, but even with the familiarity of "Row row row your boat...," it still flopped as a single. Well, that's how it goes. It's no less of a masterpiece.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

At this point in my life I would choose "Boats" simply because it's more meaningful for me and such a thought provoking song and intelligently written. Eric's performance is so vulnerable, you can hear it in his voice... it even cracks a little towards the end. So interesting that it came to Eric in his sleep... I love when artists are inspired like that! (Yes LC,  John Stewart's lesser known "Ticket to the Stars" captured my attention for that very reason.)

But, as a classically trained pianist, I cannot ignore ABM. What lonely teenager couldn't identify with that in 1975? Now, whenever ABM appears out of nowhere, I will take it in and listen because of the beautifully orchestrated music and how he incorporated Rachmaninoff, also one of my favourite composers.

Still, if I had to choose one over the other, "Boats" wins out for me over "All By Myself" at this point.  

 

 

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

11 hours ago, LC said:

Even ahead of "Starting Over"?

 

I'm in a conundrum. Starting Over is my personal favorite Eric song but part of that is an emotional choice. Boats Against the Current is Eric's favorite and could be mine if Starting Over had never been written. Then again, Overnight Sensation is the epitome of Power Pop, and Let's Pretend is the perfect Pop song...

Thanks for stirring this up, LC! LOL

  • Haha 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Again, very succinct assessment, James. We are of one mind! 🙂

There's something about the intelligence of "Boats" that makes me reach for that one before "All by Myself" every time. Perfection is consuming, indeed.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Restore formatting

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

×
×
  • Create New...