Do you have a song from your youth that you detest? And I’m not thinking because it was a bad tune or anything but that its sole offence was that it used your name in its title or lyrics and became fodder for use in teasing by your peers.
Yeah? Me too.
Mine came by way of El Debarge’s “Who’s Johnny?” that featured prominently in the 80s film “Short circuit”, another source of teasing (“Johnny five is alive!” Kids are so weird). I also got a lot of “Johnny B. Goode”, which I minded quite a bit less, because, well, that song rocks. And then, in university, I was introduced to a song by Madder Rose called “Beautiful John” that… okay… nobody really used that one to tease me…
Then, there’s the case of a friend of my wife’s and mine who had to grow up with people singing words to a certain hit Dexy’s Midnight Runners song, to the point that she couldn’t abide the tune. We were laughing about this very subject one night over dinner and the physical reaction she had at the mere mention of “Come on, Eileen” was hilarious to behold. But when I asked if she felt the same way about Sam Roberts’ hit tune “Don’t walk away Eileen”, her response was: “No! I love that song!” And she immediately started singing the song and drumming her hands on the table.
I don’t disagree with our friend Eileen’s assessment of the song at all. It was released as the second single off Sam Roberts’ debut EP, “The inhuman condition”, and is the second song from it to feature on this very list. Not bad at all for a release that only has six songs in total and one whose artist wondered whether the EP was a good idea for his first foray into music. It is basically a reinterpretation of half the demo tracks he put together to generate industry interest and well, the EP generated a huge buzz on Canadian radio. Then, a bunch of these tracks also appeared on Roberts’ debut long player, “We were born in a flame”, that was released the following year after he signed to Sony Music.
“Don’t walk away Eileen” is a thorough banging and crashing away at drums and guitars, a general racket, really, and Roberts seems less concerned about carrying a tune than emoting the feeling of anger and passion. It is punk without the trappings of being punk. It is a fun tune that many can identify with, a universal kick at a troubled or troubling love interest, a song to scream along with at the top of your lungs, whether in your car, in your room, in a bar drinking with friends, or in the middle of a crowd at a concert.
Yeah, it’s fun. I’m not quite sure it mitigates all those years of “Come on, Eileen” for our friend though.
For the rest of the Best tunes of 2002 list, click here.