Nothing Without You

Open Skyz – Nothing without You (audio)

It was the wrong band on the wrong label at the wrong time.

But the music goes through my brain on a regular basis, even twenty five years later.

Music used to be precious, to be on the mailing list was akin to nirvana, only equaled by having a free subscription to AOL when they charged by the minute, which I had too, ah the old perks of the music industry, when concert tickets were still free and music drove the culture, when it was a business but excess was part of the equation.

Used to be every three years a new sound would come and upend the previous one. That’s how hair band music was eclipsed by grunge. And, honestly, Open Skyz is more akin to Journey, in look and vocal timbre, but I always saw them as separate from the Steve Perry juggernaut.

Truly a faceless band, their image was not even on the album cover, which is the kiss of death, it smacks of corporate rock, of a studio creation, but Open Skyz was a band, previously known as Valentine, with a bit of MTV traction, but then they jumped from Warner Brothers to RCA and were told they needed a new moniker and this was the one they ended up with.

I guess what caught my eye was the production by Richie Zito. A guitarist with a flair behind the board, he’d done good work with Eddie Money, he knew how to wail.

And this was back before music was made for earbuds. Younger kids had portable CD players, but the oldsters, the thirtysomethings and boomers, had big rigs, the switch from vinyl/cassettes to CDs was complete, and everybody still had power and big speakers and sound quality was important and when you cranked it up and the whole room was awash in the sound…

You felt good.

Now the opening cut on the Open Skyz album is “None Of It Matters.” An upbeat explosion. The Stones taught us you hit ’em with your best shot right up front, especially in the CD era, when there was only one side, many people never made it to the end of the album, even fewer do now.

“None Of It Matters” is not a radio hit, it wasn’t for MTV, it was made for the owner, the fan, a private pleasure…

All of your gold, all of your toys
None of it matters

Music used to sell the other. It was for the alienated, those who just did not fit into society. They watched television and did not see themselves, they wanted to be understood, they put on a record…

She don’t want your diamond rings
But she wants to feel alive

Money can’t buy you love. Or can it? Especially today, when life is so damn hard. Funny how many actresses marry hedge funders. People want to be protected, they want a leg up, cash opens doors closed to so many others, and artistic achievements pale in comparison.

But this was not how it used to be.

The acts didn’t boast. Their goal was to connect. And if they did, then cash rained down, WHAT A CONCEPT!

The third cut was “Golden Years,” which started off quiet, as if from a distant galaxy, and then resonated with its message.

Happily ever after is more than enough

It most certainly is, but try selling that idea in an era where everybody’s looking over their shoulder, for something better.

And cut four is the title cut, “Open Skies,” which sounds at first like it’s an outtake from the second side of “Magical Mystery Tour,” and then locks in and has you nodding your head as it turns into an anthem.

And there’s a cover of Supertramp’s “Give A Little Bit,” and ballads looking to pull the heartstrings of women around the world that didn’t, but the piece de resistance is track two, “Nothing Without You.”

There’s a drum fill, and then ethereal instrumentation that immediately sets your mind free, has you hovering three feet above your bed.

Every day and every night I try to be so strong
Every inch of me cries out for you whenever you’re gone

Schmaltzy, I know, but if you heard the record…

Have you been dumped, have you been on the losing end of distance, have you played your hand wrong, have you been alone and unable to stop thinking about them…

Then this is the music you want to hear, it soothes you.

But it’s about the advent of a relationship, when nothing else matters, when you can’t stop thinking about…


When my heart beats now
It’s not the same somehow
There’s nothing I can do
‘Cause I’m nothing without you

But it’s the instrumentation and the vocal histrionics, the way Hugo works his way in and around the words, it’s like you’re in a slow motion amusement park, you can see where you’re going, can feel the twists and turns, other people may be on the ride, but you’re in your own bubble.

I know, I know, punk was a reaction to prog rock, to slickness, to calculation, metal too, they were raw and basic, but…

You don’t want to throw the baby out with the bathwater.

And everything Open Skyz represents is anathema today. Melody, production, now it’s all about beats, a jolt, it’s more physical than emotional, but “Nothing Without You” resonates on both levels, the sound is a warm bath and then the lyrics percolate and penetrate and even though you may be alone, you feel part of a club, a giant continuum, of people who believe music will not only set their souls free, but keep them warm at night.

And there’s nothing cool about Open Skyz. As a matter of fact, “Nothing Without You” was not written by the band, but Allee Willis, Franne Golde and Suzann Rye, there is calculation involved.

But the target was missed. Like I said, Pearl Jam was dominant, RCA was an also-ran and this music was already in the rearview mirror and still is.

And insiders hate this stuff. They want something more raw, more authentic. But to be unable to open your heart to different sounds is the mark of a closed mind with limited perspective.

And sometimes, when the progenitor has lost their way, the imitation well-done is so satisfying. And what was ersatz yesterday is iconic today, can you say Boston, can you say Karen Carpenter?

Music is personal. It plays in your brain.

I know, going to the show is a good time.

But I never went to party, I went to connect with the band on stage.

I connect with Open Skyz.

“None Of It Matters”

(The Open Skyz album is on no streaming service, therefore I can’t link to “Golden Years” or “Open Skies,” they’re not even on YouTube!)

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