Monday, April 12, 2010

Icehouse: The Heartbreak Kid

Icehouse: The Heartbreak Kid by Icehouse
It's said in many circles that there are three main reasons that people kill- Money, Madness and Passion. It could also be said that those are the three main reasons that people write songs, so it should be no surprise that those three themes show up as topics in music, and this months Crime Tune is a little know 80s tune that about murder for passion. Icehouse, from Sydney Australia is remembered in the main stream for their album Man of Colours from 1987. In the USA it's best recalled for the single Electric Blue which was a hit reaching #7 on the American Billboard Hot 100 chart. Like many listeners that single was my introduction to the band, and I wouldn't have cared about the band of the album beyond that if my best friend hadn't forced me to listen to the song The Heartbreak Kid while sitting in his car one evening.

Dusty wind blew 'cross the high plains
as a stranger rode into town
with a certain reputation
for the ladies and a gun
he walked to the bar so casual
just as easy as you please
he was bound to do some damage
with those valentino eyes

well, the barmaid was an angel
and she looked so out of place
and she said her name was 'Sunset'
she was different from the rest
and she couldn't help but notice
the moment he walked through the door
that the gunman was something special
and the bullet found a score

and the one mistake you make is just enough
and that one mistake is "Boy, you talk too tough"

only takes a single bullet
bring the fastest trigger down
only takes a pretty woman
put a gunman underground
and you may hear the same old story
in ev'ry town, on ev'ry street
the story of 'Sunset'... and the
Heartbreak Kid

dirty rain soaked through the doorway
of an upper westside bar
and the TV news was talking
to the crowd of people there

"...well the kid was always reckless
he said "I'll never stay too long..."
"..and when she knew that he would leave her
Sunset shot that gunman down..."

"Oh, the story of 'Sunset'...
and the Heartbreak Kid."

Musically Icehouse was Rock/Post-punk/New Wave with a Synthpop edge, so it seemed strange that they would record a song that has a very strong country vibe, so strong that I am a little shocked that it hasn't been covered by one of the current wave of Alt Country singers. I would love to hear a woman's take on the song. If you read the lyrics you get a pretty straight reading of the story, it's classic noir. Boy meets girl, boy falls for girl, boy is ready to move on and the girl isn't, so she ends him. I would also point out that as with my first entry in this series Stan Ridgway's The Big Heat there is a time confusion element in both songs. In this one the song starts out like a Western, with the image of a Romantic Cowboy figure, not the John Wayne, Jimmy Stewart or Randolph Scott kind of cowboy, but the more Playboy Cowboy figure-- then we get to the part about the TV News and suddenly it's a contemporary setting. At any rate it's a song the I find I am drawn to time and time again, admittedly for the personal nostalgic value as much as the song these days.

Thoughts, Comments, casting of Sunset or The Heartbreak Kid?

previous 12 Crime Tunes entries Here