EEEEEEEEEEOOOOOOOOWWWWW! Did you hear the news that’s totally made me forget about the whole Rock Hall situation? Daryl Hall & John Oates are going out on tour this summer!
As my wife and I were traveling down to her hometown in southeastern Indiana to see her ailing father, she kept asking me what I wanted for my birthday. And since I am a man of very limited interests, she started throwing out the usual stuff that I enjoy: a Pacers, Butler or Ball State basketball game. I countered with a high school game in order to take the grandkids to get them hooked since there’s nothing like a high school game in Indiana for kids. Then, she asked if I wanted to go to a record store, and I’m like of course! Then, she started bringing up concerts for the summer, joking that we could get some country music package for the nearby music shed. Of course, I about threw up. Sorry fans, but I hate the current state of country music. As I have quoted before, Tom Petty once said that country music today is like bad Eighties music with a fiddle.
So, then she asked me about seeing The Doobie Brothers, and I told her I am lukewarm on them, especially if the ticket prices are astronomical. Actually, I said that I definitely wanted to see The Boss, no matter the cost. And, I would go see Hall & Oates again, knowing that at our ages, no one would get pregnant (see one of my previous posts about how dangerous Hall & Oates music and concerts can be with us). I told her I have signed up for alerts for both artists. She gave a courtesy laugh, shook her head, then we changed the subject.
Then, yesterday, it happened. My phone started blowing up with alerts from every conceivable source saying that our favorite duo were announcing a tour with Indy on the docket. Immediately, I text her the news. She was pumped up because she text back immediately, even though she probably was working with a student at the time. Priorities are priorities.
So, I have been trying to figure out this whole Hall & Oates fascination and how it all started. Well, it is a very easy story. For the last six years of my hometown schooling years, I used to go down to the neighbors’ house almost every day to hang out with their daughters, both of whom were around my age. Lori was my age, and the two of us looked so similar that people often thought we were brother and sister. And, Kim was a couple of years older than Lori and me. Anyway, Kim LOVED Hall & Oates from the moment “Sara Smile” was a huge hit. She was the first person I knew that actually saw them in concert back in the Seventies.
Initially, I did buy that silver eponymous titled album with “Sara Smile” and took it down to the girls’ house to listen to it often. Although both girls loved the album, Kim became obsessed. I can vividly remember Kim making me dance with her every time she bought a new Hall & Oates album. I was dancing, in private, to “Rich Girl” and “I Don’t Wanna Lose You” back in the mid-Seventies. Eventually, Kim graduated from high school and moved to Ball State. But, Lori and I continued to listen to Hall & Oates, burning them deep into my psyche.
When I got to Ball State in the fall of 1981, I couldn’t believe how many people loved the duo, unironically I might add. Here I was, a guy who was mainly into punk, new wave and hip hop, but I loved Daryl Hall & John Oates. That November, I took my brother down to Indiana University to see the Electric Light Orchestra, since he was a huge fan, while I went to see Hall & Oates open. And, that night, I became a HUGE Hall & Oates fan. They were not simply a slick studio concoction, but the total live package. That night, they announced that “Private Eyes” had just hit number one, so when they played it the audience went nuts. The duo’s band was hot, with über guitarist G.E. Smith, creative collaborator and bassist the late Tom “T-Bone” Wolk (my all-time favorite bassist), future Bryan Adams drummer Mickey Curry and longtime multi-instrumentalist and saxophonist supreme Charlie “Mr. Casual” De Chant. These guys were the real deal, and I’ll be damned if I won’t spend the rest of my life giving them their due.
Guys, Daryl Hall and John Oates are not some Yacht Rock relic, nor are they an Eighties mustache caricature. Go listen to any of their albums and you will hear rock experimentations; hip hop influences; folk and acoustic tinges; and soul, funk and disco flourishes in addition to their trademark rock ‘n’ soul pop sound. Then, you hear their voices come together, with John’s lower folk register versus Daryl’s superman soul quality. It’s as though the two differences made the whole amalgamation greater than the individual parts, as great as those individuals are solo.
In retrospect, I loved Daryl Hall and John Oates’ music in the Seventies, but they took it to a completely different level in the Eighties. It seemed like the duo were energized by the dawn of a new decade. Surprisingly, their 1980 album Voices had a slow rise to the top. But, when “Kiss on My List” exploded to #1 in the spring of 1981, followed by the pure pop pleasure of “You Make My Dreams” that summer, Hall & Oates were on the cusp of becoming one of the dominant forces of rock music in the early-Eighties. Few artists have experienced a run like these guys had from 1980 through 1985, when their fifth album during that time finally ran out of steam. They had racked up five number one songs, along with a huge list of Top Twenty hits in addition to the albums Voices, Private Eyes, H2O, Rock ‘n’ Soul: Part 1 and Big Bam Boom.
I know I probably have done this in the past, but I thought I would present a longer, fresher list of my 50 favorite songs by the greatest duo of the rock era, Daryl Hall and John Oates. Kim Gill and Lori Eppert, this is for you two, with my brotherly love!
50. “Philly Forget Me Not (with Train)” (Non-album single, 2018)
49. “Ooh Child” (Our Kind of Soul, 2004)
48. “Forever You” (Do It for Love, 2002)
47. “Promises Ain’t Enough” (Marigold Sky, 1997)
46. “Downtown Life” (Ooh Yeah!, 1988)
45. “Don’t Hold Back Your Love” (Change of Season, 1990)
44. “It’s Uncanny” (No Goodbyes, 1977)
43. “A Night at the Apollo Live! The Way You Do the Things You Do/My Girl (with David Ruffin and Eddie Kendricks)” (Live at the Apollo, 1985)
42. “Missed Opportunity” (Ooh Yeah!, 1988)
41. “Romeo Is Bleeding” (Marigold Sky, 1997)
40. “I Can Dream About You” (Our Kind of Soul, 2004)
39. “Man on a Mission” (Do It for Love, 2002)
38. “When the Morning Comes Around” (Abandoned Luncheonette, 1973)
37. “Your Imagination” (Private Eyes, 1981)
36. “How Does It Feel to Be Back” (Voices, 1980)
35. “Las Vegas Turnaround” (Abandoned Luncheonette, 1973)
34. “Do What You Want, Be Who You Are” (Bigger Than Both of Us, 1976)
33. “Possession Obsession” (Big Bam Boom, 1984)
32. “Everything Your Heart Desires” (Ooh Yeah!, 1988)
31. “The Woman Comes and Goes” (X-Static, 1979)
30. “Jingle Bell Rock” (Non-album single, 1983)
29. “Head Above Water” (Private Eyes, 1981)
28. “Why Do Lovers (Break Each Other’s Hearts?)” (Beauty on the Back Street, 1977)
27. “Don’t Go Out (unreleased song, 1981)” (Do What You Want, Be Who You Are, 2009)
26. “Do It for Love” (Do It for Love, 2004)
25. “Method of Modern Love” (Big Bam Boom, 1984)
24. “Italian Girls” (H2O, 1982)
23. “Back Together Again” (Bigger Than Both of Us, 1976)
22. “Some Things Are Better Left Unsaid” (Big Bam Boom, 1984)
21. “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin'” (Voices, 1980)
20. “One on One” (H2O, 1982)
19. “Family Man” (H2O, 1982)
18. “It’s a Laugh” (Along the Red Ledge, 1978)
17. “Did It in a Minute” (Private Eyes, 1981)
16. “I Don’t Wanna Lose You” (Along the Red Ledge, 1976)
15. “So Close” (Change of Season, 1990)
14. “Adult Education” (Rock ‘n’ Soul: Part 1, 1983)
13. “Private Eyes” (Private Eyes, 1981)
12. “Dreamtime” – Daryl Hall (Three Hearts in the Happy Ending Machine, 1986)
11. “Say It Isn’t So” (Rock ‘n’ Soul: Part 1, 1983)
10. “Rich Girl” (Bigger Than Both of Us, 1976). The duo’s first number one song, The Killers’ Brandon Flowers claims he learned everything there is to know about writing a hit song from this one. Who knows, he may be right. Then again, when was the last time Flowers or his band had a hit song? He may need to listen to more of their songs. Still, this is a nearly forgotten classic.
9. “Wait for Me” (X-Static, 1979). Damn it! I will never understand why this song did not become a bigger hit. Oh wait! That’s right! Schlock meister David Foster produced the damn thing, nearly sucking the life out of it. Regardless, I love it!
8. “Kiss on My List” (Voices, 1981). I love it when the general public misses sarcasm. I remember the girls in my high school wishing their beaus would think this way about them. Even the girl I was dating at the time thought that way. Little did she know that I actually was.
7. “I Can’t Go for That (No Can Do)” (Private Eyes, 1981). This song has been sampled by so many hip hop artists that you would not believe the legs it continues to have. Hall & Oates were never as big on Urban Radio, as it was called then, than with this song. It’s no wonder why ?uestlove pushed for Hall & Oates for induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.
6. “Out of Touch” (Big Bam Boom, 1984). The duo’s last number one held Wham! back for a couple of weeks before the English duo briefly took Hall & Oates’ mantle.
5. “Maneater” (H2O, 1982). I remember when this song was released, the Boomer critics were bitching about the Motown bassline. Who cares!?!?!? They synthesized a sexy pop/rock/soul hit song using it.
4. “Sara Smile” (Daryl Hall and John Oates, 1975). “Sara Smile” broke Hall & Oates as a hit-making machine with their unique blend of soul cool and pop slickness with touches of rock and folk thrown in for good measure.
3. “You Make My Dreams” (Voices, 1980). THE perfect pop rock songs of the Eighties, “You Make My Dreams” has taken on a life of its own. The song is both of its time AND timeless.
2. “She’s Gone” (Abandoned Luncheonette, 1973). While it took three years before the song became a hit, it is now perhaps one of their five most recognizable hit songs in their cannon.
1. “Everytime You Go Away (live in Tokyo 1996, unreleased)” (Do What You Want, Be Who You Are, 2009). I now prefer this version of their stellar studio version because this song epitomizes the live Hall & Oates experience. As Daryl says while announcing the song, “Taking ya ta church.” And the listener gets to hear the song in all its gospel and blues glory, highlighting Daryl’s scorching vocals. That man is peerless. This version showcases everything that is great about this duo: impeccable songwriting, masterful musicianship and otherworldly vocals.