David Fleming
It's All Academic   www.davidflemingsite.com   
Day 365: Berlin (No More Words)

July 5, 2024

"No more words," Terri Nunn demands on Berlin's 1984 hit of the same name, their second highest charting single after "You Take My Breath Away." And "no more promises."

All I can say, Terri (or John Crawford, songwriter), is "Amen!" After 271,525 words (not counting this last entry), I am hard pressed to say I want to write any more words about pop and rock music ("yeah, right!" comes the sarcasm from the peanut gallery in my head). When Nunn sings "remember when the words were new/they carried a meaning, a feeling so true," she captures how I felt around Day 8, Day 37, Day 93, or even Day 139, when I had returned to this endeavor after an 18-month hiatus. Early on, even when I struggled to find an angle for one of these, I knew that the creation, once an idea was found, would still be rewarding.

But then, as Nunn sings at the end of the first stanza, these metaphorical one-night stands, got more difficult, my "actions . . . lacking and nothing is sure."

Because at some point, I started to realize (because my mother is in my head telling me to catalog everything) that I might be doing a 59th blog that was in essence an analysis of a song, the realm of song or album reviewer, territory more trampled than Max Yasgur's farm after Woodstock. Sure, I might think I have a great take on Throwing Muses' "Hook In Her Head," but, sheesh, where's the overall creativity if I have been providing that basic take 58 times already?

Even when I thought some kind of personal association with a song was the interesting angle, I could take little comfort that I was no longer on Max Yasgur's farm. You see, if I have a personal anecdote associated with Violent Femmes "Add It Up" for the 94th time, does this just mean that all I am doing is continually inviting readers to Ed Gein's farm?

I wasn't even able to keep promises made in the beginning, my own "promises of love." I promised myself I would let these be spur-of-the-moment choices, based upon something I had heard each day. Inspiration had to be unplanned, instant, and the reward of an agile mind. Hah! That didn't last long. I can't remember with any certainty on which day that wasn't the case, a day when I tapped into my massive Excel spreadsheet for my music collection to find something (it this last point surprises you, I encourage you to go back and re-read how my mother is in my head). It could easily have been in the first twenty days. That's like a promise of love that lasts one weekend (and not a holiday weekend).

I also promised never to choose deliberate partners over the course of successive days, meaning a phoenix had to rise from the ashes every new morning, my own Groundhog's Day. Such a vow was tied to the one above, as paired entries would not be spontaneous. That ended, with a thud, on days 41 and 42, with the two versions of Tom Waits' "I Don't Wanna Grow Up." While that may seem like I broke a promise of love, have you heard Holly Cole's adaptations of Waits' songs? I did a train threesome (o.k., I might want to edit that line) and still came back later to write about Grand Funk's "Loco-Motion." I couldn't even break my rules consistently. Finally, to make matters worse, poor Terri, John and the rest of you Ein Berliners, I did a threesome of songs about "words," and still left you for the end.

And to my embarrassment, in hindsight, I was convinced I had a promise to try and find songs more than 5 years apart for each day, if not even more. Let's face it, this series could have stayed entirely within the years 1977 to 1989, thus boring a large segment of an audience I didn't know if I even had. The first two entries were within 4 years of each other, so maybe I never actually uttered that promise; ironically, the final two entries are from the same year. To some degree that was unavoidable. For the longest time, I knew "No More Words" would be the final entry; it also didn't take long for me to see that the only way to present Rubber Rodeo's "Before I Go Away" was as the penultimate entry. So, Terri, we have had a long flirtation. We've been waiting for this day for 4 years.

Overall, Berlin, when I hear your lament: "no more words and no more promises," I get it, but maybe not in the way you intended. As when I covered Missing Persons' Words on Day 237, there is some grating irony that these declarations about empty words were carried by garish videos. In your case, had you been watching Pat Benatar (see Day 138) for "Shadows Of The Night," believing you had to couch your own lament to empty language into a historical-based video that MTV would show 10 times a day?

Besides, don't you feel a little sheepish in your audacity to criticize words when one of your breakthrough hits was "Sex (I'm A)" where, let's face it, the words are replaced by a lot of very erotic moaning. I am tempted to say you can't have it both ways, but who am I to judge, especially on Day 365. After all, you would go on from "No More Words" to have one more huge hit, "You Take My Breath Away." For me, I truly have no more words.

Berlin. "No More Words." Love Life. Geffen, 1983. Link here.

Day 364: Rubber Rodeo "Before I Go Away"

Complete list here.