“Someone Else” Emitt Rhodes

“Someone Else” Emitt Rhodes – YouTube
“Someone Else” Emitt Rhodes – Spotify

This should not be good.

In an era where our greatest living artists can’t even see the target, never mind hit the mark, what are the odds a has-been, a barely was, would be able to strike a bullseye?

Well, maybe not quite. But he’s close.

And it’s positively revelatory.

We boomers live in the past, because our favorites seem to have lost the plot, Sir Paul keeps putting out music, but we stopped listening long ago. Ditto on Stevie Wonder, even Paul Simon. They had too much success, eyes are upon them, they’re paralyzed, they seem to have lost the ability to channel God.

And that’s what great songwriting is. Evidence of humanity. The artist is channeling pure emotion. He or she locks into something that makes the hair on our arms stand up straight. Forget the actors, it’s the musicians we are truly in love with, because they illustrate our lives for us.

When you tell someone you care a lot
Prepare yourself for a broken heart

You think it’s different when you age, that you’re no longer a teenager, that you know what you’re doing, you’re not insecure, but then you get a crush on someone and cannot sleep, they’re all you can think about. Can you tell them? Can you even approach them?

You think you’re so strong, think you’re so brave
You’ll feel so small, be so afraid

The sound is akin to Stephen Stills’s “4 + 20,” quiet and intimate, as if no one is listening but you. Your brain opens up, you’re suddenly in touch with your thoughts and your emotions.

Because it’s life and life only.

And even though you’re wiser through experience, you still know so little. You drive a sedan, not a compact. You might even own a house. You invest in appearing together, but you’re still at loose ends, and the more you’ve got, the less you’re willing to risk.

You like her so much it makes you sick
And you just can’t make no sense of it

Go around the block enough and you can see the flaws, see the reasons for not getting involved, you can control your emotions, only you cannot. You’re infatuated.

She can’t say yes, but she can’t say no
It’s for you to guess, for her to know

Ambivalence. Can’t she please send a signal? Did you read the story saying that the most successful online daters are women who reach out for what they want?

“Women Who Make First Move in Online Dating Are Rewarded, Study Finds”

Why can’t she reach out for me?


You’re sighing.

Is there someone else she’s thinkin’ of
Will she hold him close, give him her love

You start to wonder, if she’s not interested in being with you, is she interested in being with someone else? Got to be. Because you’re madly in love, can’t she see it in your eyes?

Is there somewhere else she wants to be
With someone else, not with me

I was just discussing this with my shrink today, I don’t like to compete. If everybody else wants it, I don’t even go after it. If anybody else is interested in her I won’t make a move. I’m inured to losing. The brass ring has eluded me. I don’t feel capable, I don’t feel desirous…but none of this undercuts the twisting, turning feeling eating up my insides.

I’ve heard it all before, a thousand lies
When you’re feeling lost, you compromise

Experience. It keeps you down. We accumulate wounds and shoot for the middle at best, we no longer expect things to work out. That’s for the youngsters and the winners, the rich and famous paraded in front of us in the media.

Music is supposed to be youthful, aging is anathema in America.

Then how come this guy who never won is getting it so right, singing about the human condition of the sixtysomething, whilst his compatriots with success can only cover hits from the past, looking to stay in the spotlight.

Defeat will get you down. Emitt Rhodes had some airplay, got some accolades, but he made no money, got no ubiquity, bitter he retreated to his home in Hawthorne. And with the burgeoning of the web we all found out he was down there, accessible, but he was not the same guy, he was old, he was fat, he was no longer cute, it was all too creepy.

Kind of like Brian Wilson. An automaton paraded in front of the public so they can remember what once was. He can neither write nor play, never mind sing. So what are the odds Emitt Rhodes can?

I like her so much, it makes me ill
And it makes no sense, and it never will

I had a crush on a girl for two years. Back at the turn of the century. She’d send me e-mail, I’d respond and receive nothing in return. Was she just not interested? She was so present, so intimate when we saw each other face to face.

I realized she was an inveterate social climber, flawed in more way than one, but when I see her name in my inbox my heart still skips a beat.

I wish I may, I wish I might
I must be wrong, I can’t be right

A bridge? It’s like today’s artists lost the playbook, the bible, even though all the hits of yesteryear are online to sample. Songwriting… It didn’t used to start with the beat, but the changes. And those changes hooked us to the point we could not stop listening.

It’s all my fault, it always is
I must be crazy, shouldn’t I know better than this

You’re no longer wet behind the ears, you’ve had so much experience, you’ve been in this exact same place before…

But you can’t control your emotions.

But too much music evidences machines as opposed to humanity, imitating tech, trying to be perfect.

And in the middle the song rocks hard, but at the end it twinkles again.


I knew Emitt Rhodes had a new album, I saw a story in the “Wall Street Journal,” I made a mental note to check it out.

But I didn’t.

But then today I was stimulated, surfing a site that reminded me of him.

So I went on Spotify and saw his mug, reinforcing that this was gonna be a disaster, a failed attempt, a coda to sully my memories of being elated by “With My Face On The Floor,” spreading the word on the insight of “Love Will Stone You.”

But you’ll come down.

That’s the following line. That’s how love is, after the high comes the lows.

But the opening cut, “Dog On A Chain,” was good. It had the exact same sound from way back when, but with a modern vision. Rhodes had not had plastic surgery on either his face or his soul, he was singing from where he was today. Hell, “Dog On A Chain” was about divorce, how you feel after the kids are gone as well as the wife, when the house is no longer yours.

You ain’t no good I hear her say
Under her breath as she turns away

It’s the women who are over you first. They ate your act up in the beginning, were supportive so long, and then…

They’re no longer interested, you haven’t changed, but they have. Your act no longer works, there’s nothing you can do to get them back.

What kind of person sings this stuff?

Someone who grew up when music was all about personal expression, who remembers when you didn’t conform but went on your own journey.

And I’m sampling the tracks. And they’re all good. They hearken back to what once was, but they’re not set in amber.

And then I hear “Someone Else.”

It’s quiet and intimate, so personal, I’m positively stunned.

It’s like the labels are irrelevant, all the commercialism, all the endless tech talk.

This guy in the South Bay who paid his dues once has not eradicated his mind, is not a has-been lamenting what could have been, all these years his brain has still been working, he’s been ready for his comeback.

But unlike those putting out endless albums that require one listen at best, he truly HAS!

I’m not telling you “Rainbow Ends” is perfect. But if you remember what once was you’ll be positively stunned at this update.

Some stories stick, some don’t.

The fake Rodriguez story got traction, he toured after the movie to utter boredom.

But who cares about a failed alcoholic who hasn’t recorded for forty years?

Turns out I do.

And you will too.

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