Please note that it delivers something much different than feelings brought on by something like “Come Sail Away” or “Lady” by Styx. These are indeed awful, but arguments can be made for their effectiveness. “Come Sail Away” has been saved by a Freaks and Geeks episode, and “Lady” is so majestically moronic as a celebration of one’s superwoman that its intent can indeed be accepted and enjoyed on the rare occasion. Many would opt that Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing” would make the cut as a standout Supertramp Syndrome track, but I beg to differ here. Years of my daughters’ friends banging out the introductory piano riff on my out of tune piano have given the song a new life. It is not insufferable, and I have to give credit where credit is due. The intro is clever and memorable, and Steve Perry manages to make the rest of the thing heroic for misguided and tasteless human beings. And once in a while I count myself in with that gang of misfits.
Hell, me and the wife listened to a load of ’70s turds on the way home from New Jersey yesterday, including Dr. Hook’s “When You’re in Love With a Beautiful Woman” and “Sharing the Night Together,” and I astounded myself by admitting I didn’t mind hearing either of the ditties. Yes, when you’re in love with a beautiful woman, it is indeed hard. And the rest of the reasons given by the redneck lead singer ring true as well. Any yes, when you’re feeling lonely, sharing the night together with literally anyone can truly be a beautiful thing, especially during these godawful times. Don’t get me wrong, Dennis Locorriere would never be categorized as a seer nor would he give Leo Buscaglia a run for his money concerning relationship ups and downs, but it feels good to know that I have a kindred soul when it comes to lovin’ my woman.
The same cannot be said for 99% of what Supertramp brings to the table. Most of what they serve is meant to show off technical wizardry and not much else. And when technical wizardry becomes the focus of what’s brought to the table, that decision screws with the head and heart to such a degree that said performer/performers are probably better off working in some type of promotional capacity for a Radio Shack-like operation. Supertramp Syndrome is indeed all about the question of balance, and the horrors brought on when the balance if offset.
Supertramp Syndrome’s Hall of Fame absolutely and positively includes XTC, and I blame Andy Partridge’s faulty wiring for their inclusion. Never once has he given the world any indication whatsoever that he needs or let alone wants the pleasures of love, sex, food, etc. And if he has, I’d bet my bank account that he was forced to do so lyrically by the rest of his bandmates. (Supertramp is different. Its members went though some sort of transformation. I’m going to be generous and say they smelled money.) The penultimate XTC Supertramp Syndrome track that nauseates this listener to a COVID-19 like degree is “Helicopter.” The music is overly tinny, robotic, and technically clever, perfectly complemented by the following lyrical drivel which succeeds in synergizing the whole mess into something not unlike a cesspool:
Oh heli, oh heliXTC, :Helicopter”
I’m crouching here with a telescope in hand
Looking across our lego land
I really think it’s about time that she came down
She a laughing giggly whirlybird
She got to be obscene to be obheard
I really think its about time that she came down
And I object to all the air male that she pick up
The air male that she pick up
The air male that she pick up, oh oh oh
When she’s up there twirling round
Just like a helicopter, copter
She’s landing on the town
It’s about time that I stopped her, stopped her
When she’s up there twirling round, round, round
Just like a helicopter, copter
Oh heli, oh heli Now she’s away from convent she’s gone wild
She’s grown from a nice young lady to a child
I really think it’s about time that she came…
I know what you’re thinking. This is much worse that Supertramp’s “Logical Song.” Shouldn’t the syndrome be named after some XTC reference? Like you too, “Helicopter” makes me feel nauseous, uncomfortable, and ashamed to be in mixed company with others who enjoy it, kill people, etc. All that’s true, but the alliteration of “Supertramp Syndrome” has a nice ring to it.
And now, Rock Town Hall brethren, I open the floor to you. I look forward to your input regarding unrecorded causes, symptoms, long-term effects, you name it, of Supertramp Syndrome.