The Logical Song by Supertramp (A&M, 1979)

Breakfast In America is one of my all-time favorite albums and this 45 was the first song released from it, making into the Top 10 in the Spring of 1979. And every time I hear this song, I think of one thing: Roy Rogers. Not the cowboy, but the restaurant named after him. We must have eaten their every week that Summer. So the memory of driving there for lunch and having this song come on the radio is forever linked in mind. As is the fact that we always ordered an apple cheese crisp for my Dad. I never ate one because it sounded disgusting. Mixing apples & cheese for dessert…what the hell is logical about that?

Roger Hodgson, the writer and singer of The Logical Song had a great way of making the insistent repetitive staccato hits of the Wurlitzer electric piano sound inviting and warm. You can’t hear those opening chords and not think of Supertramp, so signature was that sound. Also a trademark was their wry humor and sometimes bitter commentaries in their lyrics, but in this one the message was simple: when we grow up the world steals our innocence and replaces it with confusion. OK maybe it’s no so simple and brings up more questions than it answers, but it certainly something everyone can relate to. Especially in 1979 amid an impending recession, nuclear meltdowns and political unrest. And the US & England were ready to make the illogical moves of electing Reagan & Thatcher, forever changing the political landscape affecting generations to this day.

But I digress, cause this song kick ass, even before John Helliwell rips into a late 70s pre-requisite sax solo. Can you listen to a line like, “Watch what you say. They’ll be calling you a radical, a liberal, a fanatical, a criminal.” and not think about the agenda of news channels such as Fox News? In fact what government doesn’t want their constituents let alone their employees to be “acceptable, respectable, presentable, a vegetable”? OK maybe not #2, but certainly #4. 1-2-3-5!

Special note: I love that they when they sing digital, they use the sound from the handheld Mattel Football game. I was always partial to the Soccer handheld myself.

2nd special note: A group called the Barron Knights recorded a parody of this song in 1979 called The Topical Song in which they lamented about the Oil Crisis. Topical song, yes. Good song, no.

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  1. orpheus

     /  June 26, 2011

    Great blog! I really enjoyed reading this. That’s one big part of what great music is about, isn’t it? The memories that are connected with it – different memories for each one of us. I love to listen to The Logical Song as Roger Hodgson sings it today during his solo concerts – just accompanied by a saxophonist. It brings back all the memories and at the same time there is a new aspect to it. It’s not only that Hodgson’s voice sounds different from back then (to me it sounds liberated, much more powerful), but also that he sings it with a different attitude, some of those passages mentioned in the blog seem to have even more impact when he sings them today.

    And you taught me two things: It’s “watch what you say” which makes absolute and perfect sense but I always kept understanding “what would you say”! And secondly, I did not know about the sound from the Mattel Football game – Thank you for that!

    The German techno band Scooter had a number one hit in several European countries with their cover of the song in 2001 but I don’t like their version.

    This is my favourite version of the song: – it’s from Hodgson’s DVD live in Montreal, recorded a couple of years ago – currently he is on tour with his own band, you may find the dates here:

  2. guitar62player

     /  June 26, 2011

    Thank you for your accurate description of this song, it’s writer and the group. Roger Hodgson is currently on tour which allows you to experience this song live, the best way to hear it in my opinion. He truly sounds better than ever. What I so love about this performer is his connection with his fans, he truly looks you in the eyes and smiles. Talk about sending shivers down your spine….. Check out his website for upcoming European, Canadian and U.S. dates…..

    Yes, I’m a huge fan and those who experience one of Rogers shows are as well……Hope you get to see him with your own heart…..

  3. guitar62player

     /  June 26, 2011

    P.S. In my opinion, there are few who create lyrics such as these that stand the test of time and Logical Song has……….

  4. The Chartist

     /  September 26, 2012

    Very clever lyrics, typical of Supertramp. Talking of Fox News, the UK Murdoch owned newspaper, The Sun attacked the Labour Government with a Supertramp album title as a headline “Crisis? What Crisis?”

    In the 70s , a song with the title “Bloody Well Right” was highly controversial -more innocent times!


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