David Fleming
It's All Academic   www.davidflemingsite.com   
Day 207: The Tubes (She's A Beauty)

December 8, 2022

As I have done more and more research to keep this song series going, my FaceBook feed provides me more and more interview clips of "classic" rock and rollers, either by Dan Rather (who seems way too serious as he interviews Styx's Tommy Shaw and James Young or Kansas' Phil Ehart and Kerry Livgren) or Sammy Hagar (who when interviewing Tommy Shaw and James Young or Toto's Steve Lukather seems way too giggly-fanlike, a la Chris Farley).

In almost all cases, I cannot look away, and occasionally I have the feeling that Toto, we're not in Kansas anymore.

It is during Hagar's slap-happy interview of Lukather that I learn he co-wrote The Tubes' "She's A Beauty."  'Surely, you jest,' I think. In 1983, I am just finding The Tubes with their album Outside Inside almost simultaneously as I am stopping my purchases of Toto. A loyal follower of Toto's first four albums, I bristled at a "sold-out" vibe to Toto IV. Perhaps no song was more predictive of my eventual disinterest than "I Won't Hold You Back," the fifth single released from the album, and the third top 10 single (after "Rosanna" and "Africa"). "I Won't Hold You Back" was one of the rare songs penned only by Lukather, so my opinion of him as a song-writer (still a great guitarist when allowed to play rock riffs) was minimal.

Meanwhile, "She's A Beauty" plays on the radio (or MTV), and the song's edgy as rock and roll should be, has a great riff and makes me smile. I have no idea who wrote it until this week, never assumed I should know it was anybody but Fee Waybill or other members of The Tubes.

Now I find Toto's all over it. Listen to the background vocals on the chorus, and you can definitely hear Bobby Kimball, Toto's soon-to-be-exiled lead singer, and the guitar solo is definitely Lukather, which once it dies down, the keyboard fill is signature David Paich. I don't know why I am so surprised now. Toto was famously a bunch of session men, so I get that their long-standing rock influence could be all over hit songs, but the corporate rock world and the post-punk world don't collide, damn it!

The corporate world is all over the single even beyond the inclusion of Toto. Fee Waybill's original lyric is "you can talk to a naked girl," not "pretty girl," which the record company completely nixed. Sigh! I suppose if the original lyric had been kept, the video, which featured Rosanna Arquette's son (yes, further evidence of corporate Toto influences) might have been completely scrapped. If "Beauty" is within arm's reach for us, there is a man/corporation behind the curtain.

Here's the thing, though: What exactly did Lukather contribute in terms of song-writing here? Everything one reads says that Waybill wrote the lyrics and producer David Foster wrote the music. Does Lukather get credit for the guitar solo?  If so, he probably merits it, but then why doesn't Elliott Easton get song-writing credits for every great solo he provides Ric Ocasek in Cars' song? Why isn't Eric Clapton given half of the song-writing credits for basically providing George Harrison the weeping guitar in "While My Guitar Gently Weeps"? And as I pointed out just a few blogs ago, David Gilmour doesn't even provide the lovely guitar in the second half of "Is There Anybody Out There?" That was somebody named Joe DiBlasi, remembered wrongly by the song's sole acknowledged writer, Roger Waters as "Ron" DiBlasi.

I know this is all tied up in contracts, and represents the great crime that is the music industry, people getting under-credited, not credited, unpaid, for key elements of song creation. I wish no ill will for Steve Lukather, but if he still gets a tiny bit of royalties for every time "She's A Beauty" is played or purchased, then that just seems wrong. First off, he doesn't really need it. Second, Fee Waybill probably does need it. If it's going to "cost me a dollar" for "She's A Beauty," I want it to go to the artiste, not the pimp.

The Tubes. "She's A Beauty." Outside Inside. Capitol, 1982. Link here.

Day 206: Dolly Parton, Emmylou Harris, and Linda Ronstadt "After The Gold Rush"

Day 208: Aerosmith "Janie's Got A Gun"

See complete list here.