“He’s Gonna Play an Organ!”

Of late as I’ve listened to my “guyPod” I’ve been delighted by what I’ll characterize as “watery” organ in a pair of tracks.

The older of the two is the title track from the 1977 album Show Some Emotion by British singer-songwriter Joan Armatrading. Listen to the organ played by John “Rabbit” Bundrick when the chorus kicks in at 1:01, 1:40, and 2:50.

The organ stays around for most of the chorus, but it’s those first four longish notes that get me. Juicy!

Then we have the British duo Tears for Fears. After their enormously popular 1985 second album Songs from the Big Chair, Curt Smith and Roland Orzabal took nearly four years to release their third, The Seeds of Love. The pre-album single was the title track of sorts, “Sowing the Seeds of Love”.

In it there is but a single instance of watery organ. It comes, courtesy of Orzabal or maybe Nicky Holland, at 3:33.


These are visceral reactions, I know. I’m not going to try to put into words what I like about the organ I’ve highlighted here — because I really don’t think I can. But I thought them worth sharing anyway.

While I’m on the subject of “Sowing the Seeds”, I have to comment on this attention-grabbing track as a whole. There is a lot happening in this track; it’s a musical kitchen sink — one could get away with calling it a mess. I love how Stewart Mason puts it in on his review of the track on AllMusic.com:

The combination of old and new, along with Roland Orzabal’s unblinkingly earnest “all you need is love” lyrics, is almost overpoweringly bombastic, but the song goes so thoroughly over the top that it finally becomes almost admirable in its excesses.

Here is album reviewer Stanton Swihart’s take, also on AllMusic.com:

As for the title track, it manages to be insanely intricate as well as catchy. Full of arcane references, lovely turns of phrase, and perfectly matched suite-like parts, it updates the orchestral grandiosity — though not the actual sound — of the Beatles’ psychedelic period.

Beatles-influenced? Certainly. The track draws from “I Am the Walrus,” “Penny Lane,” and I’m sure several other Fab Four tracks.

I alternate between considering “Sowing the Seeds” to be an ambitious success and a ridiculous overreach. Ultimately I give it a thumbs-up. Its message, after all, is a progressive one, so I’m inclined to give it the benefit of the doubt.

An end to need,
And the politics of greed


Plus, the video is effective. Directed by Jim Blashfield, it won two awards at the MTV Music Video Awards — Best Breakthrough Video and Best Special Effects
With respect to my positive verdict on “Sowing”, evidently I have — or had — a lot of company. I had no idea before I researched this post that the single went all the way to #2 in the US. Really?! That is astonishing. (This must have happened very soon after I began to ignore, for the most part, new music, a change in behavior I trace back to 1989, the year this single was released.)

As for the post title, (why do I so often feel compelled to explain my titles? because many are obscure references related to the post subject only tangentially, that’s why!), it is a line from Don Rickles’ 1960s stand-up comedy LP Hello Dummy. The organ to which Rickles refers is not a musical instrument.

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