Thursday, August 25, 2016

It Was More Than a Feeling

Boston's eight–song self–titled debut album, "Boston," which was released on this day in 1976, was one of the most successful debut albums in American history, selling 17 million copies.

It produced three singles, each of which sold quite well.

"More Than A Feeling," the first single from the album, was arguably the most successful. It's been described as an ode to daydreaming, and it featured a reference to a mysterious Marianne, who, it turned out, was a real person. Band leader Tom Scholz said she was his older cousin, whom he regarded as the most beautiful girl he had ever seen when he was the tender age of 8 or 9 and she must have been in her teens. The song soared to #5 on Billboard's Hot 100 — and even sparked a bit of controversy during the 2008 presidential primary campaign.

Republican Mike Huckabee used the song for campaign promotion, and a former band member made appearances with Huckabee, giving the joint impression that the band had given Huckabee permission to use the song and had endorsed Huckabee's campaign, neither of which was true, Scholz observed in his written request to Huckabee to stop using the song.

Huckabee complied with the request.

It was indeed a popular tune. It showed up in several movies around that time, and many musicians made covers of it. Forty years later, it is still a staple on FM radio.

Actually, as popular as "More Than A Feeling" was, the flip side on that single, "Smokin'," probably enjoyed more popularity than it deserved simply because it was the flip side to "More Than A Feeling."

Boston released "More Than A Feeling" as a single about the same time as it released the album.

The next single, "Foreplay/Long Time," was released after the start of the new year.

"Foreplay" was an instrumental tune that Scholz wrote around 1969 while a student at MIT. The merging of that tune with "Long Time," another Scholz composition, was described by Rolling Stone as the "marriage of Led Zeppelin and Yes."

Pretty good description.

Like its predecessor, "Foreplay/Long Time" was a big hit, reaching #22 on Billboard's Hot 100. And, once again, the B side profited from being paired with a Boston hit. In this case, the flip side was "Let Me Take You Home Tonight," the only piece on the album that was not composed by Scholz.

"Let Me Take You Home Tonight" was penned by guitarist and lead vocalist Brad Delp.

The album's third single, "Peace of Mind," was released eight months after the album. I've heard that it was written about Scholz's work colleagues before he found success in the music industry. That certainly makes sense.

"Peace of Mind," like the other two singles, performed well on the charts, climbing to #38 on Billboard's Hot 100.

I always kind of liked it better than the other two. Maybe it was the acoustic guitar intro.

Whatever it was, I believed from the start that Boston was kind of a bizarre merging of two styles — at once a kind of familiar sort of band playing familiar sort of music while, at the same time, a garage band with a unique sound all its own.