Saturday, October 13, 2007

Late Night Listening: Installment XII

Tonight's selection is what I believe to be one of the most unappreciated and underrated entries in the Eurythmics' songbook -- "Love is a Stranger" (could not embed because the poster doesn't allow it).

If my memory serves me correctly, this song was the followup to the hit single "Sweet Dreams (are Made of This)", and it didn't really take off in terms of airplay. My guess is that the song was less accessible than its predecessor.

"Dreams" might have been exotic sounding, but it had a steady rhythm, and fairly consistent meter. "Stranger"'s seduction arises from being elusive and unpredictable. In the last half of the song, the formula of the first two verses is broken by an extensive and passionate enumeration of Love's darker attributes.

I also love the video for "Stranger". When I first saw it, I found the use of the ventriloquist's dummy to visualize the phrase-ending male "uhs" to be hilarious.

The other thing that grabbed my attention upon first glance was the sheer femininity of Annie Lennox in the opening scene. It contrasted starkly against the cold, androgynous, power hungry image Lennox conveys in the "Dreams" video.

On subsequent viewings, I notice just how expressive Lennox is with her face and eyes when she sings the refrain for the first time... luring you in with the "I want you" and jolting you with "It's an obsession", transitioning from temptress to mental case and back in fractions of a second. Within the hormone induced confusion that a 14-year-old male such as me would have have had, I wouldn't have cared. She could have had her way with me regardless.

Had you asked me in the summer of 1983 whether Eurythmics would go on to have more hits, I would have said "no". I couldn't get past the gender bender schtick. The success and longevity of Eurythmics and Lennox's own solo recordings are a testament to both the group's versatility and the raw talent of Lennox's beautiful voice.

Any doubts I may have had back then were put to death with the 1985 release of "Would I Lie to You". That roaring fusion of rock and soul was an in-your-face statement that they could handle anything that you threw at them. I found it to be a sweet irony that they would chose to record such a mold breaking track for an album titled Be Yourself Tonight.

I'll be back in the next day or so with an update on my life. Keep visiting.
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