Something about having spent the last couple of hours deconstructing a six and a half minute long rock ballad and reconstructing it as a three minute punk song.
What is rock? It is perhaps a term that holds different meanings for different people. But if someone were to ask me what rock is, I would reply “Reckless, by Bryan Adams.” To me, Reckless represents all that is good with rock. All that is pure, and all that is strong. Reckless is about love and fun, two central themes of anyone’s life. It’s dirty, yet clean. Old, but new. Sexy, yet ugly. There are a lot of things that can be said about Reckless, but the one thing I’d like to be said about it, is that it rocks.
1 – One Night Love Affair
The story of a one night stand starts the album. He meets a girl, two strangers and thinks that it’ll just be a case of spending the night together in passion, then parting their ways. But there is an attraction between them. He tries, as she does, to pretend that there’s no attraction, that saying goodbye the next morning will be easy, but when it comes to doing it, it’s hard. They both wanted a little company and got it, but could never continue. He says goodbye and knows that he will never see her again and wonders what it could have been like. A driving bass hold the song together, while light keyboards plays on the top, but Bryan’s rough voice portrays the raw emotion of a man who scored, but lost.
2 – She’s Only Happy When She’s Dancin’
A song about a girl. She has a mundane 9 to 5 job and doesn’t have a particularly interesting week, but when Friday comes along, she has a great time. She goes to her favourite bar, ironically called “The Ball and Chain” and dances the night away. The guitar solo gives her a chance to shake her booty. In the chorus the whole gang joins in singing and adding hand claps, they too are feeling the joy that she is when she’s dancing. There’s a guy – possibly Bryan – watching her from across the dance floor, but she’s not about to let him have his way. If he wants her, he will have to earn her. But there is the feeling that she doesn’t really care about men. When she’s out on the dance floor she just lets her worries melt away. Ahhh…
3 – Run To You
The song has a dark feeling to it, which perfectly reflects the fact that in this song Bryan has been bad. A synth lurks during the verses, then erupts into the chorus. For a moment the song pauses and goes into a moody bridge, before the guitars kick back in. He has a girlfriend, but he’s getting sick of her. She’s faithful, and says she loves him, but he’s found another woman, who gives him the pleasure he desires. He has been torn between the two women, but he’s got the stage where he really wants a good time so he’s going to the other woman. If it’s good then instead of going home after the deed is done, he might stay all night. Lucky Bry.
4 – Heaven
“Honey, they’re playing our song”. Heaven is an “our song”. Unlike the infidelities of Run to you Bryan has decided that there is a woman for him, and she is all he wants. He has found love with her and she is the one for him. He’s been waiting for true love, dreamed of heavenly perfection and has finally found it. He pledges that he will be there for her, forever. The song is perfect for slow dancing.
The video to Heaven is worth noting. Bryan performs the song on a stage in a hall, as he must have done on many occasions. The thing that is interesting, is that the audience he is performing to consists of television sets with teenage girls on the screens. A flipside of the world of these girls seeing him playing on their TVs. An interesting comment on the life of a big rock star.
5 – Somebody
Sometimes life is tough. Bryan knows this and he knows that life can be a lot easier when there’s someone there to go with you, to help you along your way. There are a lot of contradictions and confusing situations in life but having a companion makes it clearer. Then one day he sees someone – someone who looks like Madonna. He realises that he needs someone like her, or maybe even her in his life. This could be interpreted as Madonna, mother of God, giving him divine guidance, or Madonna, mother of Lourdes, being his chick (back in ’84 Madonna wasn’t a mother and she used to dance around with her belly button thing happening – she was so cool). Being alone can really suck.
6 – Summer of ’69
Who doesn’t love this song? It’s the ultimate reminisce about the pleasures of being a teen. The first band fuelled on rock ‘n’ roll dreams. Then comes the first band. The feeling that she was going to be Bry’s girl forever. Hanging out with his friends, going out, being wild boys. But nothing lasts forever. All the reminiscing makes him ask “what went wrong”. How did all those dreams disappear? He might he older, but is he any wiser? Can he recapture the essence of his youth (Bryan’s latest album ’18 Till I Die’ suggests he’s trying). And then there’s the whole ’69 thing – just what went on down at the drive in?
7 – Kids Wanna Rock
This songs sums up the albums feeling of rock: “Turned on the radio, sounded like a disco”. Dance music might have appeal to some, but Bryan knows what the youth of the world want. Forget about programming those synthesisers, the only pure comes from a pure guitar, plugged in and turned out up. Hear the voice of youth screaming out! Rock ‘n’ roll will never die as long as Bry’s around.
8 – It’s Only Love
And he continues to rock. This time enlisting the help of the powerful voice of Tina Turner. This song is a song for survivors. People who have been there and been walked over, kicked in the head and been shattered – all in the name of love. They both passionately tell the trouble person, don’t worry, it’s only love. Don’t make things so bad because there’s no need for them to be. The searing guitar solo kicks in and provides more relief for a broken heart. The message is, take those feelings and turn them around.
9 – Long Gone
D-i-v-o-r-c-e. Sometimes the perfect relationship turns sour. The woman of his dreams turns into an evil devil woman and she don’t want him no more. She’s taken all the good stuff, leaving him with the clothes he’s wearing. He wants her to know that even though she didn’t like him, he still had strong, true feelings for her. But he knows that she might have all his possessions, but she doesn’t have him.
10 – Ain’t Gonna Cry
Those devil women – he just can’t get rid of ’em. This woman comes along and she’s just no good for him. She said she’d wait forever, but she’s turned out to be bad news. He wants to get away from her so badly that he’s even changed his phone number. She might want him, but he’s strong enough to tell her to get lost, even threatening to rearrange her face if she tries to get close. The song abruptly ends then a voice “A one, a two, a one, two, three”, like the voice of god, can be heard before the song restarts and ends in an eruption of noise. The final sound is a scream.
But above all, I recommend going out, getting the album and listening to it at a loud volume and feeling the power of Bryan Adams rockin’ real hard.