On And On by Stephen Bishop (ABC, 1977)

As a little kid, I loved hearing this song the radio. Even though its dreamlike aura masks the sadness and depression of failed relationships, I always just latched onto the fantasy of having my toes in the sand down in Jamaica. Maybe it was the imagery of my 6-year old literal brain thinking of someone climbing a ladder to steal stars from the sky or going from the fire to the frying pan. It just hits me in the soft & mellow part of my brian and still does.

Stephen Bishop took this single to #11 as the second 45 release from his debut, Careless. And no one made feeling bad feel so good like Stephen. Although his lyrics can be confusing at times. For example, in the first time he talks about how the pretty women of Jamaica are golddiggers. The he turns around and talks about Lonesome Sue, who’s in love with old Sam, who it seems is turning the screws on her. Or is she? I’m not sure. Cause he says she keeps trying and feels like crying as she wears a smile. So why even talk about those money hungry hotties from Kingston (unless he means Queens).

Then poor Ol Jimmy sees his woman kiss another man and he does what every guy would do in that situation: goes to Lowe’s to buy a ladder, to steal the sky’s stars no less. The puts on Sinatra (maybe Strangers In The Night or Summer Wind) and starts crying. (At least put on some Elton John and start a fight. It’s OK, if it’s Saturday.) Then Stephen says ol Jimmy smiles when he feels like crying. But Jimmy is already crying, so which one is it? I think he might be headed for a breakdown.

Sure ol’ Stephen takes getting dumped in stride. He’s chilling in Jamaica on the beach in the sun with God knows how many puffs from the local strains. But it’s all a mask, the tears of a clown, so to speak, if clowns hung out on Montego Bay. And if you ever see one there smiling, run!

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2 Comments

  1. When I hear this song, I think of a skit from “Saturday Night Live” where John Belushi is playing a bouncer at a Studio 54-type disco. At one point, Stephen Bishop walks up and tries to get in, saying he has a hit song on the radio. When Belushi asks which song, he starts singing the first line of “On and On,” and then Belushi starts singing with him.

    Then he says, “I hate that song!” and refuses to let him in.

    At least Belushi didn’t also smash his guitar like he did in Animal House

    Reply
  2. W.B.

     /  March 10, 2015

    If any other song from that period reminds me of “On And On,” it’s Linda Ronstadt’s cover of “Blue Bayou” – the same key (B major), same tempo, similar arrangement. Needless to say, I’ll take “On And On” any day.

    Reply

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