I’m still thinking about whether it was Bad Company or Foreigner who completely reduced rock ‘n roll to its cliched essence, adding not a single couplet of insight or emotion. Whether singing insincere odes to imagined hardships of imagined stardom (eg, “Shooting Star”); self-absorbed odes to the little people who make a great rock star’s vital work as troubador possible (eg, Browne’s “The Load Out”); or maybe worse of all, Foreigner’s stock in trade – the immediacy of personal relations as medical conditions (eg, “Urgent”, “Head Games”, “Cold as Ice”), these songs were not of any of us. The possibility of a vital “rock congregation” would be forever threatened. It was Rock as Televangelism.
Does Bad Company’s “Feel Like Making Love” contain a modicum of soul or personal investment? I sense that it might. Maybe “Can’t Get Enough” too, which seems to have about as much sincere swagger as a mediocre Lynyrd Skynyrd song, don’t you think? Perhaps Bad Company initially set out to develop a vital congregation. But Foreigner… Is there a second half of a couplet that you can’t see coming from a mile away? Do their lyrics mean anything to anybody, or are they the Rock equivalent of an ’80s direct-to-video movie release, something in that aesthetic netherworld between feature film and softore porn, not possessing the qualities of either form? Their late-period smash hit, “I Want to Know What Love Is”, complete with a robed gospel choir for hire, is their apotheosis.
For this discussion to play out, we must agree on some broad definition of meaning and relevance in rock ‘n roll lyrics. We will even accept the meaning and relevance of the liner notes by the Style Council’s mysterious The Cappucino Kid, OK? With agreement on these points, can you cite a single couplet by Foreigner that is not yet another nail in the coffin of rock ‘n roll? Or did someone else drive in the final nails – and nothing else – first?