Nobody writes depressingly beautiful songs like the British. Nobody. Whether it stems from the surplus of gray, inclement weather the population is subjected to or the gradual diminution of their once mighty empire, I don’t know.
Perhaps the geographically enforced isolation from the rest of the cool kids at the European lunch table leads to a natural introspection. Or maybe the American Revolution broke their collective hearts into a million fragments of fragile sadness.
Whatever it is, you might want a box of tissues nearby.
Speaking of the colonies, Americans can pull off the “sad clown shedding a single tear while staring at a faded rose” songs, too — but when it comes down to the nitty gritty, the Yanks achieve maximum comfort when wearing their boundless optimism like a well-fitted Snuggie. Think of the wide open vistas of Aaron Copland, or the can-do attitude of Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin’.” Our glass isn’t half empty or half full, it’s halfway to another drink, baby!
Back in the UK, when the progressive rockers known as Stackridge broke up the band in 1976 after six years of so-so success, principal songwriter Adam Davis found himself without a glass, let alone anything with which to fill it. Reuniting with James Warren — who had been kicked out of Stackridge a few years prior — the two decided they’d had enough of the fringes. They would start a new band and go straight for the commercial jugular. (Song titles such as “Father Frankenstein Is Behind Your Pillow” and “Dangerous Bacon” give some idea as to why their previous incarnation never reached the top of the pops.)
Dubbing themselves The Korgis (named for the queen’s dogs, but with a K cuz it’s kooler), Davis and Warren scored a Top 20 hit in the UK with their second single, but never expected the kind of success they found the following year. In 1980, The Korgis released their sophomore album, Dumb Waiters, and the first single, the simple and haunting ballad “Everybody’s Got To Learn Sometime,” went to #5 on the UK pop chart. More surprisingly, the song went Top 20 in the US during a year dominated by established acts, soft rock, and disco in disguise.
Unfortunately, The Korgis never reached the Top 40 again in any country — in the ensuing years, instead of breaking into charts, they had to settle for breaking into hearts with their lone smash hit.