Thursday, April 14, 2011

Keepin' It REO

I'm on an REO Speedwagon kick which happens to me every now and then I think of them. So the time is now to post about them. But what can I say about this band that I haven't said many times before? Well I don't know, one thing that did strike me though is that REO Speedwagon is a band that likes to "keep" doing things. They use that word a lot. Maybe that's why they've kept on keeping on, this band has been going nonstop for as longer than I've been alive. To be playing over four decades they must know something. So let's see what REO says they (and by extension, us) should "keep" doing to .

Keep Pushin' (1976)
REO's first lesson to us is that you have to keep pushin' on. The band was probably in need of some motivational sloganism after five albums scraped up a meager sum of hits. Songwriter/lead singer Kevin Cronin had already quit a few albums before returning to deliver his life lesson. "Keep Pushin" sounds like it's all about touring, surviving that hard cold mistress known as The Road. Cronin writes about how life is lonely and crazy but you have to keep going even though all your strength is gone 'cause that's what makes you a man. Lesson One from REO: you must keep pushin'. On.

Keep On Loving You (1980)
Maybe the definitive REO Speedwagon song, this majestic power ballad has been all over the place for 30 years now. It's considered a romantic song even though the lyrics really seem to be about reconciliation after being cheated on. Again from the pen of Kevin Cronin, the song paints the girl (the "you" of the song) as a snake in the grass who's had all these men Cronin (the "I" of the song) knows about but can't remember. Then Cronin ("I") declares his undying love that is so great he has insomnia. Or maybe that part about not wanting to sleep was the sex metaphor. You and your metaphors Kevin Cronin!

When you get down to brass taxes (whatever that means) what grabs people is the nice piano intro and the melodic chorus making "Keep On Loving You" seem like a pure love song. I wonder if this song has ever been played at weddings? I'm gonna keep on loving you-ew-ooh, even though you did it with the Best Maa-ah-han!

"Keep On Loving You" is the one REO song that really keeps on keeping on. I still hear it in movie soundtracks and covers and what not. I think REO must have gotten bored performing it because in '89 they made this fun goofball reggae version which strips out all meaning from the tune but is good for a chuckle. It's also the song that gets the most cover versions from their catalog, a lot of terrible terrible covers.

Bonus on the music video, it's a nice throwback to when video was new and singers were forced to try acting. Or as Jon Lovitz would say "ACTING!"

Lesson Two from REO: You must keep lovin'.
Keep The Fire Burnin' (1983)
The last chapter of the REO Speedwagon "keep" trilogy, a sort of forgotten song from their history. Although "Keep The Fire Burnin" was a Top 10 hit the band has virtually ignored it since '83. Maybe because it's a lazy rewrite of "Roll With The Changes"? On the Decade Of Rock And Roll 1981 - 1991 album Cronin tells the audience he wrote the song next to a fireplace which makes a lot of sense with all its talk of staying warm. This song was recorded as part of the follow up to their smash success Hi Infidelity so there's a lot of lyrics about things changing and keeping the faith. Often felt a bit like Yoda with phrases like "Let us not stop learning" or "Let us never lose our yearnin". Though I guess Yoda would really say "Learnin', we must stop never" if I'm being grammatically Jedi. Aw, listen to me go on like a youngling.

Did I mention this is my favorite REO song? Lesson three: Keep Burnin'.

To review, let's have a test. Select from the following the three things REO Speedwagon insists you must keep doing (preferably with a "n' at the end": Burnin', Chafin', Scrapin', Poundin', Peelin', Pushin', Tannin', Baldin', Crappin', Fightin', Runnin', Movin', Eatin', Drivin', Likin', Enjoyin', Lovin', Touchin', Squeezin', Fartin', Barfin', Pukin', Hurlin', Rammin', Jammin' or Crammin'.

The Answer Is After the Jump

If you chose Pushin', Lovin' and Burnin' you're correct! And probably a little kinky.

Oh, one last thing for the confused people who post comments at You Tube. REO Speedwagon did not do "Eye Of The Tiger". Survivor does not do "Open Arms". Foreigner does not do "Carry On Wayward Son". Journey does not do "Dust In The Wind". And that's my rant for today.


EightE1 said...

The faux reggae "Keep on Lovin' You '89" is neither "fun" nor "goofball." It is an abomination unto the Lord, which God avenged by smiting the brown right out of K-Crone's hair.

Keep on rollin' ...

Mr. Mike said...

That's a good one, I like that "abomination unto the Lord" part :) And here I thought it was having to sing the keyboard player's lyrics to "Variety Tonight" that turned Cronin's hair grey. Or is it gray? I always get those two confused.