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It’s All About The Song ...“Come Said The Boy”

Posted on 21 Mar 2013

A provocative tale? A song banned on radio? A video shot on Maroubra Beach?

One of Australia's biggest hits of the 80's, Come Said The Boy, sadly never cracked #1 on the charts. We speak to the Alberts' writer who penned it,  Eric McCusker about the history and meaning of a song that spoke to a generation. 

Come Said The Boy was the first single released from Mondo Rock’s Modern Bop album  1983.

The track, was produced by John Sayers and John French at Fast Forward studios in Warrienwood (Victoria), which later became Gotham Studios when John Farnham bought it, and mixed by John Sayers at the Music Farm (NSW).  The keyboard arrangement was supplied by then Mondo Rock keys man James Black – later to become the leader of the infamous Rockwiz Orchestra.

Eric remembers that although the song was kept off the top of the charts firstly by Islands In The Stream by Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton and Love is A Battlefield by Pat Benatar  it was the 8th biggest song chart wise in 1983.

Here is Eric's recollection - 

The lyrics are not literally true, that's not actually how I lost my virginity.  There was a night at Bronte Beach where I grew up, when I kissed and cuddled a student teacher who was a few years older than I was and perhaps that was the starting point, and I did have a girlfriend in high school who was having affairs with a some older men.  So there are bits and pieces that come from my life.

When you write a song you can write what you like, and perhaps Come Said The Boy was me writing how I would have liked to have lost my virginity.  Perhaps the fact that it didn't happen that way explains the strong undercurrent of yearning in the song.  Not that there's anything wrong with a Canadian girl in  a London flat, but gee I could've done without the 2 or 3 years of frustration and self doubt (see No Time by Mondo Rock)!

Musically the starting point was J-J Hackett our drummer suggesting that I write another song like Summer of '81 and I do think those songs are similar.
The other big influence was a trip I had taken by myself around Europe where I'd listened to a lot of Erik Satie and I think there is a simple atmospheric surrealism in my song that might trace from there.  I'd also seen a Matisse called, I think, The Swimmers that I recreated around the walls of the lounge room of my rented house in North Carlton when I got back home.  And somehow that all got the artistic juices flowing.  The main part of the song was composed on a Teac Portastudio 244 and that original demo has lots of the parts on it , even the oh oh ohs right on the outro.

One other thing, was that Billy Field had given me a book about writing songs by Syd Fields, (Dorothy's brother or father) which talked about how the Japanese concept of ideal beauty always contains a flaw, an intentional imperfection.  I put one of those into Come Said The Boy right near the start where the note of G that is sung on the first syllable of the word "party" clashes with the note F# in the D chord underneath.  That discord was completely on purpose.  Ross could never understand why it was so strange to sing and I remember being in the studio and choosing not to tell him.  The result is it doesn't sound like anything else!

The hardest bit to write was the bridging section, " I've been watching you a long time…etc" which was just a bit of connective tissue between two parts of the song and had to do some quite complex things rhyme-wise.  I'm still not sure if it's grammatically right, but when we played the song people would sing along like mad with that bit which, pleased me enormously.

So there was actually a lot that led to that song's success.  We'd played it live and had very strong response and so knew to concentrate our efforts on that song.  Everyone really put in on it, great keyboards by James Black, great drum program and overdubs by J-J, wonderful bass and BVs by James Gillard, fabulous vocal by Ross and excellent mix.  The guitar solo is a trip in itself.  I played it on three consecutive days with Ross' gentle encouragement, each time getting it a bit better.

I remember sitting down and listening to the mix at Fast Forward and thinking, probably for the only time, that what we'd created completely lived up to what I'd hoped for.

The video for the song was shot down at Maroubra Beach in Sydney – a one take shot of the bands performance using then new technology – the Steadicam.  The footage of the young boy and girl was shot later in the day at twilight.

The artwork and cover for the single was an image taken on Narrabeen Beach ( also in Sydney) with a couple of young PR people from Warner Music.
To help create the still at school look an old school suitcase, a couple of study books and a used school lunch were placed in the shot.

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