The term ‘singer/songwriter’ gets thrown around a lot, especially when referring to solo singers of the 70s. Someone lobs that label on anyone who sings and plays guitar or piano, because, hey, if they can do 2 things at once, that must mean they’re writing songs as well. When I hear people refer to Michael Johnson this way, I say he’s no more a singer/songwriter than Boy George is. Actually I take that back – George actually co-wrote his hits. Michael did not.
I don’t mean to disparage M-Jo, but let’s refer to him correctly as a singer. A guy, possibly used as a muse, who vocally reinterpreted other’s emotions. Nothing wrong that at all. Might not have the same cache or check value, but a hit is a hit no matter how you get it.
Bluer Than Blue was written by Randy Goodrum, who later have his song You Needed Me by Anne Murray, hit #1 in the Fall of 1978. It’s basic tale of denial after a break-up from the man’s point of view, with a twist of depression now that she’s gone, hence feeling bluer than blue. Hmmmm….where do I begin?
Let’s start with the denial section: After his girlfriend splits, he can catch up on his sleeping & reading. Is this why it didn’t work? She kept you up all night, leaving that paperback version of Coma untouched on your coffee table. Also he has a lot more room in [his] closet and can stay out all night long if [he] feels like it. First of all, build a bigger closet. Never heard of that splitting up a couple..maybe the Marcos’ of the Philippines. And why don’t you ask her to stay out all night long with you?
You see, it sounds like this guy just wants to sleep, read, party and look fabulous. He doesn’t want a commitment. Now you know why he got dumped. So if he feels sadder than sad, it’s his own fault. Or, maybe this guy was ‘coming out’ and society was making him feel bluer than blue. That’s why he wants more room in his closet, so he can make a grand entrance.
And what the hell is bluer than blue? It really lacks the dramatic punch of someone who is so depressed and lives in a light-less empty room. What a passive expression – feeling blue. No I’m really blue. I’m bluer than blue. It’s that choice of words which makes me feel like the chorus is written to be sarcastic rather than a guy pining away for his lover. Think about that next time you listen to this song, as Michael gives her one middle finger during the verses and two middle fingers during the chorus.