America “America”

“Funny, I’ve been there, and you’ve been here, and we ain’t had no time to drink that beer.” That’s lyrics from “Sandman” on America’s first record, America, from 1971. This band was HUGE, two number one singles, several platinum records, and they’re still together, or some version of them, like so many bands which surprise me by still being together. Everybody knows at least one of their songs by heart, but who can name any members of this band? Here are the original members: Jack Beck, Elwood Collum, and Dan Klopp. Beck was eventually replaced by Rob Mailhouse, Collum by Jim Crane, and Klopp by Michael Bacon, of the Bacon Brothers, all fanatics of the 12-string guitar and sickeningly clean vocal harmonizing.

Most of this sounds like Crosby Stills and Nash without Young, but not even that good– or maybe like the bands that tried to sound like CSN&Y and failed. No matter how hard we try, we can’t make “A Horse With No Name” go away, and never will. I figure the one thing I can do is clear up this lyric problem I’ve always had with the song, which seems to go: “In the desert you can’t remember you name, because there ain’t no one for to give you no pain.” No matter how closely I listen to the song, that’s what it sounds like. Besides being grammatically incorrect, it makes no sense whatsoever.

Okay– I looked up some lyrics on the internet, and they claim that’s exactly what it is! That is so annoying! This is worse than if I went the rest of my life thinking I was hearing it wrong. Those lyrics make no sense, and they grate on me like a car alarm! Maybe that’s what it takes to have a number one single. I would try out that theory, but I just don’t have the particular genius to write something that maddeningly idiotic. It’s really depressing to think that long after the members of this band are dead, and I’m dead and gone, these asinine lyrics will live on and on and on and on. THERE AIN’T NO ONE FOR TO GIVE YOU NO PAIN. Indeed.


2 Responses to “America “America””

  1. May 24, 2008 at 7:51 pm

    I bought the Horse With No Name single with one of my weekly allowances when I was like 10 or something, whenever it came out (was it 73?). I think I thought it *was* Neil Young for a long time. I also always thought the line was that ‘in the desert, you CAN remember your name’, but I dont’ know that that makes any more sense.

    America’s hits always had a very steamy quality, but by that I mostly mean like steam coming out of a boiling tea kettle. Hissy. Insubstantial. You think the lyrics in this one don’t make any sense, what about the one about the Tin Man not getting anything he didn’t already have, and something about the Tropic of Sir Gallahad? what the shit? I think they were competing with that other lyricmeister Steve Miller, aka the “pompatus of love”. He had the balls to actually MAKE WORDS UP and use them as if they were real!

  2. May 25, 2008 at 5:45 pm

    Yeah, I guess I at some point thought it was Neil Young too. I mean he’s capable of being that bad. I think maybe it is, “you CAN remember your name” but it’s the wording of “there aint no one for to give you no pain” that really bugs me. I guess that’s just kind of annoying hippie language or something. It probably mean’s that in the desert you’re away from your mom telling you to clean up your room so you can actually feel like yourself, the real essence of you, which, with enough drugs, might seem like something profound.

    Boy I LOVE Steve Miller almost as much as I HATE him. “The Joker” is lyrical genius! I heard there is a bronze plaque in the R&R Hall of Fame with the line “You’re the cutest thing I ever did see, really love your peaches want to shake your tree.” But then what happened by Abracadabra? “Abra abra cadabra– I want to reach out and grab ya”– Is it drugs, or old age, or not caring? What happens to a person?

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