You need a hero by Pages

You Need A Hero

Saturday. Malmö. Foggy.

During dinner the other night, “You Need a Hero” from the playlist “Joakim’s Favorites” was played. Charlotte chuckled and asked if that’s the song I’d want at my funeral if I die before her. I replied that it was “Georgy Porgy” by Toto that should be played. It’s both light-hearted and groovy, and it would feel great to have the old music heroes “Luke” and “Jeff” accompany the journey to Valhalla. The mythological one, not the crusty bathhouse in Gothenburg, that is.

In the chorus of “You Need a Hero,” Richard Page (who later became one of the four that made up the band Mr. Mister) sings: “You Need a Hero, Someone to Rescue You, There’s Someone That You Can Run To.” Even though I’ve heard the song at least a couple of hundred times, that line still leaves an impression every time I hear Page sing it. I had ChatGPT analyze the song’s lyrics:

The repeated need for a “hero” suggests a deep yearning for someone who can offer emotional support and stability, which is a fundamental human need according to attachment theory. Attachment theory, proposed by John Bowlby, emphasizes the importance of having close emotional bonds with others for psychological well-being.

Is Richard Page referring to himself? Or is it more generally that we all need a hero who can save us from the impending abyss? Is it perhaps a father figure he missed? I can relate to that. Page is said to be deeply religious, so it’s probably Jesus who is his hero. Maybe the song is really a subversive, religious recruitment tune with a good hook…

There’s something comforting about the old songs on my playlist. They’re like old friends who never got old… or forgotten. But sometimes I wonder if I like them most because I’ve heard them so many times. With a few exceptions, most of the songs on the list have never been top-ranked hits, and many of the artists are completely unknown to the masses.

Now and then, I add a new song by a (new to me) artist. That’s how Anderson Paak, Billie Eilish, Allison Russell, Lana Del Rey, and a few others ended up on it. Mostly, it’s tracks by Michael Franks, Simple Minds, Zeppelin, Prince, Gabriel, Scritti Politti, Manhattan Transfer, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Alan Parsons, Warren Zevon, Zappa, Beatles, Yello, Yes, Zero 7, Massive Attack, Bo Kaspers, Blacknuss, Joni, Sky, Carlton, Hall & Oates, Boston, Fourplay, Eva Cassidy, Gadd, Fugees, Vanelli, Satriani, Rickie Lee, and the old household god Marc Jordan.

It was probably not until I was 16 that I started to listen to music seriously. We were a group of friends who sneered at most of what was played on the radio and out in public, and we took every opportunity to request songs we knew DJs didn’t have in their collections.

We mixed cassette tapes for each other and could sit for hours downing pots of coffee at Café Jungans and discussing music before crossing Avenyn to Domus and scrutinizing the backs of album covers to see who played, who produced, who mixed, and who “mastered” the records.

In 1985, a regular vinyl record in Sweden cost up to a hundred kronor, and an import from Japan could go for a whopping 400 kronor. If just a few from the “studio mafia” were listed on the back or in the inner sleeve, like Umberto Gatica, Lenny Castro, Nathan East, David Foster, Paulinho da Costa, Steve Gadd, Jay Graydon, Lee Sklar, Michael Landau, Dean Parks, Al Schmitt, Chuck Findley, Jerry Hey, or old Bill Reichenbach, it could be enough to convince us that the record would probably be worth the money even if the artist was completely unknown.

I’ll never forget when Abe Laboriel and Alex Acuña from the band Koinonia – who had a gig at Scandinavium – suddenly showed up at the bar at Gothia Hotel and were just the nicest guys.

The other week, my daughter Elle sent me a great song by Wings that I had either forgotten or completely missed. It felt hopeful that some of “my” old favorite artists would live on in her playlist.

Two of the arguably more important tasks as parents have probably been to pass on one’s slightly twisted humor and eclectic taste in music. The rest will always sort itself out.

Here’a link to You Need A Hero and Georgy Porgy.