Sunday, June 21, 2020

Certain Songs #1848: REO Speedwagon – “Roll With The Changes” | Medialoper

Album: You Can Tune a Piano, But You Can’t Tuna Fish
Year: 1978

. . .

Having once again solidified their lineup with the success of You Get What You Play For, REO Speedwagon then put out 1978’s “wackily” titled You Can Tune A Piano, But You Can’t Tuna Fish, which became a double-platinum best-seller, mostly on the radio saturation of the album’s two singles, the dread “Time For Me to Fly” and the awesome “Roll With The Changes.”

I don’t think I bought You Can Tune a Piano, But You Can’t Tuna Fish, just because of the title, and “Time For Me To Fly” for that matter. But I think that my brother Joseph did, for some reason, and let’s also remember that I was several months away from The Cars, much less The Clash, Ramones, et. al, when this record came out.

That said, I can’t imagine that any incarnation of me could resist “Roll With The Changes,” a big cheesy slice of Stonesy gospel rock that all you snobs would have loved if it had been on Ryan Adams’ Gold album.

Fueled by a rollicking Kevin Cronin piano and about 751 Gary Richrath guitar solos, “Roll With The Changes” sounded fucking fantastic on Rock 96FM, especially when they got to the massive, anthemic chorus.

So if you’re tired of the
Same old story
Oh, turn some pages
I’ll be here when you are ready
To roll with the changes
Yeah, whoo

I mean, yeah, it’s late 70s corporate rock, but I was fucking 15 years old, and so I loved this song, especially since there was also an awesome Hammond organ solo from keyboardist Neil Doughty — who has been in REO Speedwagon since it was founded in 1967! — and of course, the gospelish choir chanting “keep on rolling / keep on rolling / ooooooooooooooohhhh” in the back half. It was absolutely the perfect album closer. Except that it was the first song on the album, and so the rest of the record had nowhere to go but down, which it pretty much did.

In any event, you all know what happened after this, right? REO Speedwagon released a hard(er) rock album, Nine Lives, in 1979, which went nowhere, and then in late 1980, they released Hi Infidelity, which has sold ten fucking million copies in the U.S. alone, and is the reason that you’re sniggering at me writing about REO Speedwagon in the first place, though when Tim and I went and saw them in early 1981 in San Jose — mostly an excuse to party with some high school friends who were up at school there — they were fine, I guess. I seem to remember that when they introduced “Keep On Loving You,” it still hadn’t started climbing the charts, so it was just another song.

Oh, and the next day, we drove up to San Francisco, where I bought The Velvet Underground & Nico at Tower Records, so there you go.

“Roll With The Changes”

“Roll With The Changes” Official Music Video

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