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"Go All the Way" vs. "Overnight Sensation"


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Another battle-of-the-'berries thought: "Go All the Way" — or "Overnight Sensation"? Which do you prefer… the breakthrough hit? Or the minor hit that broke new ground? 

For decades, I'd have gone "Go All the Way." How could you not, if you were a fan trying to drum up support for the 'berries? This is the song you would put in front of every music-head who would listen.

"GATW" has that crunchy Wally Bryson intro and surprising musical changes and sly lyrics and Eric's distinctive lead vocal augmented by those Beach-Boys-styled background vocals — all of which appeal to most uninitiated listeners. Plus, it was a Top 5 hit in its day, so most people would have recognized it ("Oh — that's Raspberries? I love that song..."). And, of course, Guardians of the Galaxy gave it all-new life three decades after the fact.

But in recent years, I have come to favor "Overnight Sensation." It's so creative and so engaging, and it's easily the most innovative production Raspberries ever did. The lyrics are so cool; even if you're not a songwriter, you totally empathize with the singer's desperate need to score a hit record. Whereas "Go All the Way" is about a singular night of teen urgency, "Overnight Sensation" is about a goal involving personal achievement — a goal the singer describes with equal urgency.

I especially love the unique angle of outlining the songwriting process within a song:
I've been trying to write the lyric 
Non-offensive but satiric, too
If you can get it in the "A" slot
It's just got to make a mint for you.

And I love the cockiness the singer shows both in that verse and the bridge:
I fit the words to a good melody
Amazing how success has been ignoring me so long.

He's this close to achieving his dreams, and the production drives that point home. There's Eric's bright piano playing, and that beautiful little guitar touch by Wally at the 1:15 mark, and Mike McBride's booming drums just before the break, and the transistor radio that leads into a sweeping tag. The background vocals are stellar as well — new-to-the-group Scott McCarl fit right in. Whew! This is truly a production masterpiece — all of which is heightened by the long-held rumor that John Lennon himself pitched in at the control panel.

Yes, "Overnight Sensation" is a pure classic and, to me, Raspberries' finest moment. In fact, I would make the case that this song defines the band even more than "Go All the Way" does. 

What do you all think? Am I right? Play 'em back-to-back, study some more, and pop in with your thoughts.


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Great minds! I like your succinctness. Strangely, I never heard "Overnight Sensation" on the radio back in the day; its was a minor hit, but in my area, it just didn't get airplay. I actually discovered it on the Raspberries Best Featuring Eric Carmen compilation.

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I used the term, 'Apples to Oranges' in a previous Eric song comparison piece, but this one is Candy Apples to Carmel Apples!

Go All The Way is the Candy Apple- Crunchy, Sweet, Sticky, might pull your teeth out- whereas Overnight Sensation is the Carmel Apple- Not Crunchy, but still gets stuck on you- it just takes longer to do it; Sweet, but not too sweet- you can savor the essence of the song while you consume it; Sticky- still might lose a tooth, but you won't know it until after you've finished.

Did that answer your question LOL!

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I never heard Overnight Sensation on the radio either.  In fact I never heard it till much later. There are so many layers to that song, I didn't appreciate it when I was younger. In fact coming on this site in 2021 opened it all up to me again.  My interest in it was renewed after purchasing the CDs "Live on Sunset Strip" and "Pop Art Live". Loved their reunion performances. I am especially intrigued by Eric's story of the transistor radio under his pillow... listening to songs when he grew up. How he incorporated that in the song was quite genius in my opinion. I was much the same as that with music on the radio... the only way I got my fill. So I very much identify with this song. It's such a greatly crafted song and it peaks my interest. So I would pick this song over GATW for those reasons. But in no way am I throwing GATW under the bus. That is a tough one. I glom onto that one as soon as I hear Wally's intro... and want to sing along in the chorus.

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