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You Better Start Rockin’ It: The Start’s “Hey You”

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Foreigner’s “Juke Box Hero,” Bad Company’s “ Shining Star,” The Who’s “Guitar and Pen,” Doucette’s “Mama Let Him Play,” Blue Öyster Cult’s “The Marshall Plan,” Frank Zappa’s “Joe’s Garage” – and “Hey You” by The Start?  Yep, all songs about getting out there and, you know, becoming (or trying to become) a rock star, against all odds, and despite what Mom and Dad think. 

Okay, so that last one is the odd song out, and frankly, though I hate to admit it, it’s not great.  But I’d like it to be remembered.  I bought The Start’s debut (and only) album, also called Hey You, back in 1980 because I liked the song so much (it was a single – remember, kids, when we used to buy records because we liked a song on the radio?).  And, well, the album wasn’t all that great, either. 

Singles = Commercials

I’ve always held that a single is like a commercial for an album – and, like many other commercials, what it advertises doesn’t always live up to expectations.  That was sure the case here.  After trying valiantly to like the whole thing (as one did when one could afford to buy only one or two records a month), I admitted defeat and just cranked “Hey You” several times a day till I got tired of it.  One of my friends hated even that song and said “You just like songs about leaving your parents behind and rocking out” – and, damn, Roy, you were right, though I denied it at the time.  But, you know, it’s not a bad song.  (And dig the harmonica solo!)

One-[Barely A] Hit Wonders

The song got a lot of airplay for a short time in Edmonton; I don’t know if this Toronto band was even played elsewhere (except in Toronto, I assume).  I learn from the excellent online Canadian Pop Encyclopedia that The Start appeared at a 1980 festival in Toronto that also featured The Talking Heads, The Pretenders, The B52s, and Elvis Costello, so they had at least a brush with rock royalty.  But as in “Joe’s Garage,” “The band broke up/And it looks like/[They] will never play again.”  However, they left us this one valuable rock-and-roll artifact, and I’m glad to have it.  Check it out.


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