Here in the Midwest, we used to refer this early time period of August as the “Dog Days of Summer.” These days used to represent the last couple of weeks of Summer Break from the public schools. Lately, in an effort to ruin the quality of education, changes have been made by people who have no idea what happens during the day of a public school classroom teacher. These people either have a vested interest in being re-elected to their “powerful” position within the local school board, state-wide legislature or the US Congress. Nearly everyone has the experience of being a student during his or her life, but their experience within the educational system ENDS there. They have little perspective as an adult, drawing simply from their “experience” as an angry, angst-ridden teen as opposed to a pragmatic adult, which means they see teachers only working nine or ten months a year. They never come by the house to see the teacher planning for upcoming days in the classroom, writing their curriculum during the summer, grading papers at home during the Tonight Show or spending five hundred to a thousand dollars per school year just to have household chemicals to demonstrate to students that chemical reactions do take place in their lives.
So, now we are moving ever more closely to year-round school, which I was always “for.” But, the business practices being laid upon education by politicians is going to ruin education. We are totally getting away from the art of teaching, assuming that making all teachers a cookie-cutter vision of an administrator is the way to go. So, we are losing these last, hot, boring days of the old summer vacation in order to get more days in the classroom so our population will no longer be idiots. Ironically, I remember missing nearly ONE MONTH of school due to the Blizzard of ’78 WITHOUT making up a single day. And, somehow, I still earned two B.S. degrees, as well as my teacher certification in chemistry and biology. And, I know of at least four physicians, a handful of engineers and several other college degree-earning professionals that somehow overcame that deficiency in our education. The bottom line: It’s the quality of the education, not the quantity.
Well, during those Dog Days of August of yore, I was so glad that I lived through that musical genre once known as “Soft Rock,” now much more appropriately called “Yacht Rock.” This music, which was based on a laidback concoction of rock, R&B and country, mixed slowly and softly, which seemed to float like clouds in a sunny sky. This was music made to kick back at night to watch the stars and, if you were lucky enough, to make out with that special someone. And, yes, all the cliches are based in truth somewhere, as we did take to sipping piña coladas and daiquiris or Michelobs, all the while wearing T-shirts with tropical prints and white shorts. And, believe it or not, we had radio stations that played nothing BUT this music, be it called “Soft Rock” or “Lite Rock.”
Still, there is something almost magical about this Yacht Rock music. I am not sure what kind of memories it truly elicits, as I really never had a long-lasting girlfriend when this music was a dominant force. But, once a year, I do find myself traveling back in time as I listen to long-forgotten artists such as Paul Davis, Pablo Cruise and Little River Band. Sure, my beloved Daryl Hall & John Oates are mainstays of the genre, but they, along with the immortal Steely Dan, Eagles, Jackson Browne and Fleetwood Mac are all Yacht Rock artists whom have been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Additionally, Yacht Rock’s innate “slickness” may be due to the fact that many of these songs were played by some of the best session musicians in Los Angeles, primarily the members of Toto. So, it’s no wonder this music was hugely popular, especially with adults who could no longer keep pace with pop music, as this music meshed perfected with their Valium-/Quaalude-induced lives.
Ironically, the artists who could stake claim to being the most popular of the genre include Hall & Oates, Steely Dan, Doobie Brothers (especially with Michael McDonald!), Little River Band and Eagles. These bands all possessed the correct ingredients of rock, R&B, Country and even some jazz. Yet, what made Yacht Rock, like most any other note-worthy rock genre, is the plethora of one-hit wonders, or those artists lucky enough to have one hit blow up in a large manner in addition to their lesser hits.
So, this week, I would like to rename the week Yacht Rock Week, even though many of my educational brethren either started school last week or are beginning this week. No matter! Yacht Rock will keep all of you on an even keel (nice pun, eh?!?!), as we go through my Top 100 Yacht Rock songs of all time. Let’s get started!
100. Gino Vannelli – “I Just Wanna Stop” (1978)
99. Redbone – “Come and Get Your Love” (1973)
98. Randy Vanwarmer – “Just When I Needed You Most” (1979)
97. Pure Prairie League – “Let Me Love You Tonight” (1980)
96. Pointer Sisters – “He’s So Shy” (1980)
95. Dolly Parton – “Here You Come Again” (1977)
94. Eddie Rabbitt – “I Love a Rainy Night” (1981)
93. Sammy Johns – “Chevy Van” (1975)
92. Toby Beau – “My Angel Baby” (1978)
91. Bonnie Tyler – “It’s a Heartache” (1978)
90. James Taylor – “Up on the Roof” (1979)
89. Firefall – “You Are the Woman” (1976)
88. Eddie Money – “Maybe I’m a Fool” (1979)
87. Dan Fogelberg – “Longer” (1979)
86. Heart – “Dog & Butterfly” (1978)
85. Cliff Richard – “We Don’t Talk Any More” (1979)
84. Chuck Mangione – “Feels So Good” (1978)
83. Bertie Higgins – “Key Largo” (1982)
82. Eric Carmen – “All by Myself” (1975)
81. Seals & Crofts – “Summer Breeze” (1972)
And, that wraps up the first twenty songs of this countdown. Stick with me all week to see where your favorite Yacht Rock song lands in my countdown. By the way, I did try to have only one song per artist, though I made a Doobie Brothers exception since their is the pre- and post-Michael McDonald editions of the band, so both lineups are represented. Outside of that, no one else was repeated. Enjoy the week.
Yacht Rock Drink of the Day: The Painkiller. Take 4 ounces of pineapple-orange juice, add 3 ounces of Bacardi’s Malibu Coconut Vodka, some ice, shake, then sprinkle nutmeg over the drink. Makes a tasty drink for hot days by the pool or ocean while listening to my Top 100 Yacht Rock Songs. As a sufferer of chronic pain, I am all about the drink’s name. Cheers!