This is one of the few songs I can actually remember where I was when I first heard it. I was in the old Tower Records Store in Greenwich Village spending money I didn’t have on import albums and envying the store clerks for having much better and cooler jobs than I did in the summer of 1985 (I was working in a warehouse counting large appliances and mattresses). One of the clerks put this 12″ on the turn table and I was instantly captivated by the sound of this record. While the summer air was full of reggae and ska, this was something different and a bit darker. Not quite ska, alternative rock or even soul, it was a very unique sound.
Though Fine Young Cannibals would go onto greater fame with the pop hits “She Drives Me Crazy” and “Good Thing”, this song still remains my favorite tune of theirs. The mix of piano, trumpet and upstroke guitar frames the steady beat of the song and moves the story forward in a frantic way that echoes the uncertainty of the lyrical interplay between a runaway lost in the wilds of the city and the parents, who are pleading with him to come home to what is implied to be a less than ideal home life. On top of this are Roland Gift’s unique vocals, which swing between the pleading tones of the parental choruses against the desperate cries of the young man in the verses.
While their pop hits sound somewhat dated, this song still sounds relevant and somewhat unattached to a specific musical time frame. And it continues to make me pause and listen, like the first time in the Tower Records store.
1 thought on “Commute Music of the Week July 31, 2014: “Johnny Come Home”-Fine Young Cannibals.”
I have had moments like that too, where the song just hits you and you love it instantly. I absolutely LOVED the Fine Young Cannibals. Still do. Thanks for the reminder, I’m going to go play them right now!