This Valentine's Day, Fall in Love With the Songs of Hall and Oates

(Photo by Charles Sykes/Invision/AP, File)

It’s very nearly Valentine’s Day, so it got me thinking about what the usual things are you need to help along romance (so to speak). You’ve got the obvious items, like chocolates or a nice bottle of wine. But there’s something that’s maybe not so obvious — the right music.

For my money, you could do a lot worse to woo your valentine than with Hall & Oates’ “blue-eyed soul.”

And in case anyone gets the wise idea to shame me for talking about “old” Top 40 music, I’m not alone in loving what the band’s done in their career. Hall & Oates have sold an estimated 40 million records — not too shabby.

Now, you could explore some of the band’s early stuff, like “Room To Breathe” (1976) — which didn’t exactly catch on. Though of course, these days, the title sounds like it could be the theme song of COVID-19 safety tips. Or in the songbook of the Men Without Hats’ ripoff my colleague Mike Miller wrote about on Friday.

Let’s stay with this idea, which makes their love songs even more relevant now. Other Hall & Oates tunes, songs like “Out of Touch” (1984) and “Kiss On My List” (1980), could also be interpreted as being about the importance of touch and contact when it comes to relationships (but I may be wrong about the latter).

Something has become even more evident during the pandemic we are emerging from. People need people, and human contact. And the soaring lead vocals of Daryl Hall and John Oates’ harmonies remind us of that feeling. Of course, these things are subjective; that’s just my interpretation. It’s not like there’s a “message” the band is trying to force down your throat here. It’s just pop music, after all.

If you’re a child of the Eighties, you can’t separate the former from its video.

Now, one remarkable fact about “Kiss On My List,” according to Hall, is that what you hear on the record is the demo. He tells the story of how it came about in this interview with Song Facts.

Before she co-wrote this hit, Janna Allen had never written a song before. ….[Hall] explained that he and Janna wrote the song for Janna to record, as she was hoping to become a solo artist. When they made the demo, Hall sang on it, and when the Hall & Oates camp heard it, they insisted that the duo record it, not Janna. In fact, they thought the demo was fine the way it was, so that’s what was released.
“What you heard was literally the demo,” said Hall. “That’s why the drum machine is so dicky and all that stuff. It was really not meant for prime time.”

Here’s another ’80s love song from the band, “Method of Modern Love” (listed here at Discogs) which was released in 1984, and culled, like “Out of Touch,” from the “Big Bam Boom” LP.

Now, earlier this week, the band released a new video for the song, “Promise Ain’t Enough.” Now, why is a band putting out a single that they already put out in 1997? It turns out that the band’s teasing fans in advance of the March 25th release of a 25th anniversary edition of the album it first appeared on, “Marigold Sky.” The album will be available on both CD and vinyl (but I don’t see a listing for any digital format).

Another plus: people seemed to dig the song; it spent 30 weeks on Billboard’s Adult Contemporary chart, peaking in November of that year at number six. Though, as much as I love their other music, I can’t recall ever hearing this song — in fact, at first I thought it was a brand-new song. Regardless, I hope people take a listen to it below, since it fits in perfectly with the romantic theme I started with.

 

But since it is almost the eve of Valentine’s Day, I’m not going to leave it at that. If you’re a fan of the ’80s, you’re familiar with Paul Young‘s hit, “Everytime You Go Away.” Well, Daryl Hall wrote that. Read that again — he wrote the words and the music for it. (Trust me, I didn’t know, either!) Anyway, I found a very cool rendition of the song, performed by Hall & Oates.

Sit back and enjoy this nearly eight-minute, live version of the song, recorded at the Apollo Theater, Harlem, NY, in May 1985. If it doesn’t move you — seriously, you might need to check for a pulse.

Happy Valentine’s Day, RedState readers!