Once upon a time, the music business was more about the music than it was about the business.
Sure, record companies wanted monster worldwide hit records that would make them millions. But they understood that sometimes the least likely things would capture the mood of the moment and go straight to Number One around the world. Just one of those would pay back the other interesting songs that never went anywhere a thousand times over.
I wasn’t there at the time, obviously, but I imagine that’s what led Barry Ryan’s record company to green-light his song “Eloise”, which was written by his twin brother Paul.
“Eloise” is a mini-opera squeezed into just five minutes. Much longer than the traditional three-minute pop song but, on the plus side, much shorter than the traditional three-hour opera.
Apparently Paul Ryan had been inspired by Richard Harris’ performance of “Macarthur Park” when he wrote “Eloise”, although that characterisation seems a little unfair on his brother Barry who is a vastly better singer than Richard Harris.
You can see the cross-pollination of ideas at work for sure. There’s the sweeping orchestration…the musical light and shade…the poignant, contemplative interludes…and the full-throttle gallops.
Those are the elements which lead me to question whether a record company would green-light a song like “Eloise” today. All you need for a Number One record now is a MacBook Pro and $30-worth of pre-packaged beats. I kind of miss the times when out-and-out crazy stuff stood a chance, when talent and artistry counted for more than the numbers on a record company exec’s safety-first spreadsheet.
Every night I’m there
I’m always there, she knows I’m there
And, heaven knows, I hope she goes
I find it hard to realise that love was in her eyes
It’s dying now, she knows I’m crying now
And every night I’m there, I break my heart to please
While I’m not exactly sure what’s been going on here, I think we can all agree that we’re not starting off in the happiest of circumstances.
This isn’t one of those domestic squabbles about the right way to stack the dishwasher or whose turn it is to take the bins out. This is full-throttle heartbreak in real time…an atmosphere…