“SARA SMILE” BRIAN McKNIGHT
For close to 30 years, Daryl Hall and Sara Allen dated. Though they never married, their love affair inspired the very first Hall & Oates hit record. Sara Smile went to #4 back in 1976. The blue-eyed soul masterpiece has been a popular cover song for R&B artists like Boyz II Men, After 7, Michael McDonald, and even Brian McKnight. I’m partial to the latter version, so smooth, faithful to the original, yet Brian finds a way to make it his own.
“ALISON” GREEN DAY with ELVIS COSTELLO
My Aim Is True is a 70’s album by Elvis Costello. It was named after a memorable lyric in his greatest love song. During Elvis’ pop punk & New Wave period, Alison stood out for its simplicity and beautiful honesty. Elvis has always maintained a sense of mystery about the song’s true meaning and inspiration. Love those lines, “I’m not going to get too sentimental like those other sticky valentines, ’cause I don’t know if your loving somebody. I only know it isn’t mine.” Cover versions by artists as diverse as Everything But The Girl, Linda Ronstadt, Incubus, and a wonderfully sublime duet with Billy Joe Armstrong from Green Day are worth checking out.
In the U.S., Marillion is a one-hit wonder and their one hit, Kayleigh, barely made a dent on the charts. Yet, in their native U.K., the band took the song to #1 and has reached the Top 10 over a dozen times. Marillion has an progressive art rock sound like Yes, Asia, early Genesis, and Emerson Lake and Palmer. This style was much more popular in the 70’s, but by the mid-80’s, New Wave and hair metal changed the musical landscape. Kayleigh is a delicious power pop love song that inspired many parents to name their daughters this unique rock n’ roll inspired name.