Lately I have been pondering the term "bloke": and while there are many varieties of bloke out there, I tend to think of some of them as Colins. Colins are traditionalists, no matter what tradition it is they are following, and they tend to look with suspicion at any music that isn't traditional (I think they would use the word "authentic".) If the Housewives of Valium Court long to be swept away in some sort of masculine cry of emotion, the Colins* regard music as something of a large mirror, reflecting and refracting their lives, lives too big for mere singles. No, the Colins like albums** - they like the odd single here and there enough, but for their tastes and habits the album is the thing; a collection of songs that let him see himself, that are his soundtrack, the melodies and lyrics to his daily life.
There is nothing wrong with this, of course; a lot of what makes music enthusiasts makes the Colins what they are, save that the Colins tend to stick to very particular areas, sounds, artists. And they don't really evolve or change, once they are in their mid-20s. Not all blokes are Colins, but all Colins are blokes and thus we come, dear readers, to this song.
This is an anthem to change, to moving on, to leaving your dull town for somewhere else; and I can imagine it resonating with a lot of people, way beyond the Colins (who would have waited for the album Ooh La La to come out, being album people and whatnot). It is hard not to hear it now as a song Rod Stewart is singing to himself, that he has to leave The Faces and indeed the UK; and this was to be the last album he did with them; on his own he was a star and the roughness of The Faces was something he wanted to leave behind***. (Greil Marcus calls Stewart's albums with the band "let's go get drunk" music, and is willing to accept that far more than Stewart at the time did.) Long before he did his Great American Songbook stuff, Stewart wanted to immerse himself in that smooth American soul sound, to make music in that tradition. As much as the Colins love The Faces, they respect Stewart's need to do this - to adhere to tradition - and I suppose this makes Stewart a Colin himself.
This song, where he tells the girl in question to pack up and move out with him, could be heard (I guess) as his wishing he could take The Faces along for the ride. But what if it's otherwise? How mean would it be to write a song about how dull your band is, and have them play on it? As mean as calling the resulting album a "stinking rotten" one, and then saying that it could have been done better. There is so much goodwill and bonhomie in the early 70s, but by now it is starting to disintegrate; and Stewart, who no doubt regards himself by now as a "professional" is eagerly anticipating the day when he leaves town, leaves his old once-friends behind and starts his life anew.
That life, according to Marcus, is one in which "he exchanged passion for sentiment, the romance of sex for a tease, a reach for mysteries with tawdry posturing" and thus betrays his talent. Stewart isn't the only rock star who leaves the UK for the US but his decision to do so seems to me to be one he would have made even he actually liked what he and the The Faces were doing; that he didn't think they could do what he wanted them to just made it easier for him.
But what of the non-Colins who bought this? Were they just as eager to leave their own dingy corners and head off to places elsewhere? Anyone would have heard this at the time and felt some sympathy with the urge to go somewhere more exciting; a few though, would stay right at home and try to make excitement for themselves. Rod Stewart is his own weathervane here, and his fans long for that freedom to move, which some may take up, others, not...the Colins will understand, even if their escape is mostly pub talk and their main dream is owning a shed or two.
Next up: the Glam Slam continueth.
*Named after one man who was niggling a point on a nationwide radio show, most likely Radio 2, which is in part a Colin-friendly station.
**The recent BBC tv and radio shows heralding the album were either wrong-headed (re-recording Please Please Me) or mind-boggling (one BBC broadcaster said that disco was the anti-r&b).
***It is interesting to note that the whole pub rock movement kind of takes off once Stewart leaves and The Faces break up; and that whole idea of dismissing a band because it can't play will rebound in a few years as well...