Tuesday, April 17, 2012

The One Hit Wonder Of Sophie B. Hawkins Was “Damn, I Wish I Was Your Lover!”

The Good: Great voice, Wonderful lyrics, Decent instrumental accompaniment
The Bad: SHORT (poor use of the medium).
The Basics: A pair of great songs cannot bring me to recommend “Damn I Wish I Was Your Lover,” as neither is different from the album cuts.

For those who do not follow my many reviews, I have a real thing for obscure female pop-rock artists. In fact, at one point in my life, one of my goals was to meet Sophie B. Hawkins. I did that years ago (in fact several times over the course of a few months) and since her departure from Columbia Records, I’ve been waiting for her to both chart a song again and produce something worth charting. But, like most people, Sophie B. Hawkins came to my attention through her first single, which was one of her two hits. That single was “Damn, I Wish I Was Your Lover.”

“Damn, I Wish I Was Your Lover” was released as a single back in 1992 to promote Sophie B. Hawkins and her first c.d., Tongues And Tails (which I had back on audio cassette and would later become my first compact disc!). The song was a Top Five hit and it was presented as well as an independent c.d. single. The c.d. single included both the hit song “Damn, I Wish I Was Your Lover” and the final track to Tongues And Tails, “Don’t Stop Swaying.” And even today, they do not sound like anything else that is out on the radio.

With only two tracks, occupying ten minutes on the c.d., “Damn I Wish I Was Your Lover” includes two tracks identical in every way to the album cuts of the songs. As a result, and ultimately the “Not Recommend” with this review, those interested in the song would do just as well to hunt down Tongues And Tails. Given how inexpensively that album may be found and how proportionately expensive it can be to hunt down “Damn, I Wish I Was Your Lover” as a single, that is definitely a better value. Even so, those who pick up this c.d. single will find it illustrates well the creativity of Sophie B. Hawkins. Hawkins wrote both songs, performs the primary vocals and plays guitar or keyboards on each track.

Sophie B. Hawkins presents two pop ballads on “Damn I Wish I Was Your Lover” and they are creative and melodic. Hawkins has a wonderful alto soprano voice which she illustrates on both songs. In fact, when she holds a note on the title track for over twenty seconds, it is mindblowing that she makes the held note actually sound musical while she does! Both songs are fairly slow, but Hawkins still deserves credit for articulating well, accenting each word and making the songs resonate with emotions and a sense of passion which is not produced; it comes from the artist.

What is produced is the instrumental accompaniment to both songs. “Damn, I Wish I Was Your Lover” and “Don’t Stop Swaying” are both keyboard-driven tracks with heavy bass and minimal percussion. They have decent melodies which Hawkins’s voice harmonizes with. Hawkins actually does a great job of negotiating crescendos and fades to help create, change and prolong the moods she is singing about. This is something the more monotonal songs on the radio now seem unable to do with any proficiency.

Hawkins is a real poet and arguably the reason why she was not as much of a mainstream success was that her songs actually have a deeper sense of imagery and poetry than the average 11 – 18 year old c.d. buyer can respect. She opens with the chilling and beautiful lines “That old dog has chained you up alright / Give you everything you need / To live inside a twisted cage / Sleep beside an empty rage / I had a dream I was your hero / Damn I wish I was your lover / I'll rock you till the daylight comes / Make sure you are smiling and warm” (“Damn, I Wish I Was Your Lover”). She embodied an excellent and universal sense of longing and she makes it sound good! As well, Hawkins clearly has a strong sense of love and the musical protagonist in her big hit is easy to empathize with.

Both songs on “Damn, I Wish I Was Your Lover” are love songs, though, and they contain a real sense longing which is left unfulfilled. So, with the b-side track, when Hawkins sings “I saw you there / All I wanted was to start with you / Was the hardest thing I ever had to do / Till I made you care . . . When the time was right you were so good / Asked me what I like / And I said / Don't stop swaying baby / You soothe my soul and I stop searching / When I get lost in the rhythm / Everything stops hurting / Don't stop swaying baby/ Take it slow / And I keep yearning” (“Don’t Stop Swaying”) the listener feels like they know what she is singing about!

The truth is, every time I listen to this single, I am taken back to fifteen years ago and where I was in life at that point. This is the power of great music. But with equal truth, “Tongues & Tails” has been in the bargain bin for years now and with so little on this two-track c.d. single, it is not worth hunting down, no matter how good the material here is. Go for the full album; you’ll be glad you did!

For other works by Sophie B. Hawkins, please check out my reviews of:
Tongues And Tails
"I Want You" (single)
"Right Beside You" (single)
The Cream Will Rise (documentary)
Live! Bad Kitty Board Mix


For other music reviews, please check out my Music Review Index Page for an organized listing of all the albums and singles I have reviewed!

© 2012, 2009 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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