Sunday, January 29, 2012

Time, Love and Tenderness: The Michael Bolton List

I started to talk about my fandom of early Michael Bolton last week, but decided it was too much to squeeze into a two paragraph sidebar amongst an Idol recap... so, here is my "Mike Bolton Post" as promised... Did you know that The Bolt released a total of FIVE albums, starting in 1975 with his self titled debut "Michael Bolotin" (his real name), before hitting it big with his 6th release, "Soul Provider"?  My man has been around awhile... and you might think this entire post is in jest, is making fun... and you might be right, partly.  But honestly?  I dig Bolton, ever since I remember him really hitting it big in the late 80s.  I'm old enough to admit it without shame.  So, I nod my head to The Bolt and say, "Good job".

So here we go... my own personal Bolton Top Ten...

Honorable Mention... 

"Don't Make Me Wait for Love"... I couldn't officially list this as one of my favorite Bolton tunes, because technically, its a Kenny G song.  Kenny G did this with a dude named Lenny Williams on his 1987 album "Duotones", but recorded another version of it with Michael Bolton for Kenny G's live album, appropriately titled "Kenny G Live!", in 1989.  Personally, I like the Lenny Williams version better, if only because the video is so frakkin' ridiculous (and never shows Lenny at all, its just Kenny G running around looking all curly headed, macking on all his chicks).  

When Kenny G plays his sax on the porch, the Unintentional Comedy 
Scale blows through the roof.

10) "When a Man Loves a Woman"... For my money, there's nothing better than when Michael Bolton sings "When a Man Loves a Woman."  I celebrate his entire catalogue.  

Do you own this album?  No?  You should.

9) "When I'm Back on My Feet Again"... Sometimes we all need a little inspiration, and Track #7 on "Soul Provider" provides just that.  It's not necessarily a song about love, though it could be.  Its about a tragedy, one that knocks you down, one that puts your butt on the floor, one that rocks your world, nay, turns it upside down, inside out and back over again.  And this song centers on how you deal with that tragedy... a promise of, "One day..."   As in, one day, I'm going to break these chains around me.  One day, I'm going to learn how to fly again.  One day, these tears will all be dry. Soon these eyes will see the sun--might take time, but I'll see it.  You know, when I'm back on my feet again.  

Though I'd have to go and dig the box out to confirm, I do believe that this is the only cassette single I own by The Bolt.  Awesome.  

8) "Love is a Wonderful Thing"... Now this tune, from "Time Love and Tenderness", is most notably famous for its lawsuit that followed the release.  When this song hit big in 1991, reaching #4 on the charts, The Isley Brothers had a big problem with it... because, they claimed, that it sounded a lot like their own 60s release, strangely titled "Love is a Wonderful Thing".   In 1994, the courts of this great land declared that yes, Bolton's song had many similarities beyond the title, ruled that Mike B and his team had to pay The Isley Brothers all profits from the song, plus 28% of the entire album's profits.  This ended up being in the neighborhood of $5 million or so, after all was said and done.  And the ironic part was that The Isley Brothers' original song wasn't even that big of a hit, recorded in 1964, but not even released on a single until 1966, where it languished between #125 and #101 on the pop charts.

The verdict was appealed, of course, and ran all the way up to the US Supreme Court where in 2001, it refused to review the case at all, upholding the original verdict.

I always hated that this song had such legal issues... Its fun, its peppy, its easy to sing and its catchy.  Awesome.

7) "That's What Love Is All About"... Such a sweet song, all about a couple who have been through everything and back again, yet they are still together.  They are simply two hearts who have found a way, somehow, to keep the fire burning.  Something they couldn't live without, and if it took forever, they were going to work it out, beyond a shadow of a doubt, cause you see, this is what love is all about.

See, finding the good times is easy--but the hard times?  Well, they can tear you apart.  There will be times in your heart when the feeling is gone... what do you do?  Well, you keep on believing.  You keep holding on.  Duh.

I can imagine this song being a popular song at a 50th anniversary vow re commitment celebration.  Awesome.

6) "How Can We Be Lovers"... Truly a question for the ages, featured on "Soul Provider", one asked by men and women of each other, and of themselves, since the dawn of time.  A question that, when asked, hangs in the air, itself asking, NAY, demanding (!) and answer.  A question that truly wants to know how this relationship will not only work, but how it will even begin.

That question is quite simply... "How can we be lovers when we can't be friends?"

Now, if that question doesn't throw you, if that doesn't make you too queasy, then there are follow up questions.... queries like, "How can we start over if the fighting never ends?"  And then, "How can we make love if we can't make amends?"

Then, a flat out command... TELL ME, how can we be lovers if we can't be, can't be friends.  See, going from friends to hookin' up is a common theme in pop music, but The Bolt puts a spin on it... you have two people who have a passion for each other... but can't get along as friends.  Thus the brilliance of this tune.  Awesome.

Michael Bolton's 7th album, and his glorious mullet
5) "Time, Love and Tenderness"... What a code to live by, eh?  When love puts you to the fire, when love puts you to the test, NOTHING heals a broken heart like Time, Love and Tenderness..."  Suffering from a terrible break-up?

According to the Bolt, you need three things.  First, you need Time.  Perhaps time doesn't heal all wounds, but it will make it better.  You need Love.  Maybe to replace the love lost, or just the love of your support group around you.  And finally, you need Tenderness. You need people to treat you with care.  And those people are the ones who you can call friends.  Great song.  Awesome.

4) "How Am I Supposed to Live Without You"... From "Soul Provider", this is originally a song made famous in 1983 by Laura Branigan (but The Bolt was a co-writer on this), this one is just heartbreaking.  I mean, right off the bat, we are talking about a broken relationship... "I could hardly believe it when I heard the news today, I had to come and get it straight from you", meaning that he didn't even find out from the chick, he had to find out second hand, then go to her to confirm it.  Confirm what, you ask?  "Said you were leaving, someone swept your heart away, and from that look upon your face I see its true..."  Not only did he find the info out second hand, he found it out even though SHE WAS LIVING THERE!!!  Great tune, Bolton's raspy voice only adds to the bitter lump of heart pains in this song.

This was the song that truly put him on the map, as it ended up being his biggest hit ever.  It became the first #1 single of the 1990s, staying at the top for 2 weeks, from January 6th through the 13th.  Awesome.

3) "Steel Bars"... Probably one of the best opening beats of any Michael Bolton song, it's a fast paced pop song that tells of a man who loves his woman to the point where she's got "steel bars" wrapped around him... as in, the bonds are so strong, they cannot be broken.   And if you can believe it, this song was co-written by Bob Dylan!

My favorite part... "Every desperate step I take, every desperate move I make, its clear to me... what can all my living mean, time itself is so obscene, time itself don't mean a thing, I'm still loving you!"  Awesome.

2) "Missing You Now"... Baby I just can't wait, til I see your face, takes away this loneliness inside!  When your close to my heart, right here in my arms, then and only then will I be satisfied, I'm missing you now!  But the prime part of this song is the video itself.

Open up with a young Teri Hatcher working as a sales clerk, perhaps at a gas station, giving some guy the change, while she listens to a male voice on the phone that says, "I can't even talk right now, I'm just... just locked in the studio, I'll be working real late.  Can I call you tomorrow?"  She says, "That'd be great.  I can't wait to see you."  

Smashcut to Michael Bolton, leaning over a wall phone in a recording studio, saying, "Just wanted to tell you I miss you."  Teri then replies, "I miss you too. Go to work," she smiles and hangs up.

And now, the song begins... "Talk to you but its not the same... as touching you... every time you whisper my name... I wanna run to you... we'll be together, it won't be long, it won't be long... but it feels like forever... and its hard to be strong..." The video cuts back and forth between The Bolt sitting on a stool, baring his soul into a hanging mic and Teri back at the gas station, looking in the distance and forlorn.  But then, we see flashbacks of how Bolt and Teri met, with his car breaking down, a mechanic looking under the hood, and Bolt looks up to see this ravishing Teri standing in the doorway, staring at him.  

Their romance blossoms, with wine and roses and the camera slowly panning over a window where the curtains are blowing, showing off the cool nighttime sky, and then over a bed where we see The Bolt and Teri giving kisses to each other.  I mean, who knows when they got married... that's why they are there, right? Right.

And outta nowhere, there's Michael Bolton and Kenny G, hanging out on a couch, laughing.  


1) "Soul Provider"... Bay-bee I-I-I-I wanna be... your soul provider... bay-bee I-I-I-I wanna stay that way... for the longest time!  Truly his first real hit of any kind, its the title track of the 1989 album of the same name.  "Soul Provider", the album, reached #3 on the pop charts, went 6 times platinum, and sold... get this... 12.5 MILLION copies worldwide.  And its his sixth album!  

This is truly my favorite Michael Bolton song, just because its a great song really.  Well written, well sung, good lyrics and... well, its Awesome.

BONUS BOLTON... Lest we forget "Forever Isn't Long Enough", an unreleased gem from the "Time Love and Tenderness" album.  See, the gist of the song is he wants her to ask him "How long will you love me?" and is answer is "Forever isn't long enough to give all my love to you...", which means he loves her lots and lots, because the word "forever" means from here to infinity, with no end, yet he says his love for her is actually beyond that, meaning beyond infinity, which is a really, really long time.  See what The Bolt did there?

He attempted to do the same thing with "Said I Loved You... but I Lied", which is really about a guy saying "the word 'love' isn't strong enough to convey my affections for you, my dear," and its just not a great song.  I consider this single the turning point and beginning of the downslide of The Bolt's career.  Don't even get me started on "Can I Touch You... There?"  Yeesh.

ALSO... The song "I Found Someone" is a song made hugely famous in 1987 by Cher, and it essentially resurrected her career.  However, did you know that the song was written by a guy named Mark Mangold, by Laura Branigan (yes, the one mentioned earlier in "How Am I Supposed to Live Without You") and by none other than The Bolt himself.   Branigan, who had hit the charts with "Gloria" and "Self Control", had "Axel F" composer Harold Faltermayer arrange "I Found Someone", but without a video to support it, it only got to #90 on the charts.

Cher picked it up for her 19th studio album, "Cher", in 1987 and with a big budget video that was heavily played on MTV, the song was huge.  Its also my personal favorite Cher song, and would rank somewhere in the 150 to 200 spot on my All Time Favorite Songs list.  Just a great tune.

The guy in this video, her love interest, was, at the time, her real life boyfriend... it made headlines in 1987, as he was 27 years her junior.

Anyway, The Bolt finally recorded his own version of this song and placed it on his 1995 album, "Greatest Hits 1985 - 1995", though after listening to it moments ago, I gotta tell ya... Cher's is better.  Her voice is perfect on it.

So, that's the Michael Bolton round-up for you folks, since you were dying to know.  

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