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Sunday, April 14, 2013

Promises, Promises

This is the Sunday Jukebox entry for this week, and as always, I will be featuring a song in which we're going to have a discussion. However, this Sunday Jukebox is going to be a little bit different, because at first glance, it may seem more like a Thursday Diary entry.

I'll still be talking about the band that made the song, as well as some information on the song itself, but I'm also going to be adding a personal confession that is linked to this song. I'll give you a has to do with the song title.

So, let's not wait any longer. Here's the song of the day, courtesy of the British New Wave group, Naked Eyes.

ARTIST: Naked Eyes
SONG: Promises, Promises
ALBUM: Burning Bridges
DATE RELEASED: July 16, 1983

NOTE: In the United States and Canada, the album title was simply “Naked Eyes”.

Now, you might be wondering why I have chosen this song. It certainly isn't one of the band's most well known songs. Certainly their 1982 smash “Always Something There To Remind Me” is much better known to the general public. Of course, in North America, this doesn't mean much since Naked Eyes were one of those two-hit wonder bands that seemingly disappeared as quickly as they arrived.

But, I digress.

The reason why I chose to do a spotlight on this song in particular is twofold. Firstly, I actually like this song better than “Always Something There To Remind Me”. I always got distracted by the latter song's intro, which should have belonged to a wedding march, or a Christmas carol. That plus the fact that almost all of the 1980s compilations I ever owned had “Always Something There To Remind Me” included on it. I grew to loathe that song something fierce. It didn't matter that the legendary Burt Bacharach sang it the five hundredth time I heard that song, I never wanted to hear it again!

But, “Promises, Promises”? Now, that is a great song (and one that was penned by Naked Eyes themselves!). If you're lucky enough to get the 12” version of the single, you can hear pop siren Madonna adding vocals to the mix.

It's also a very appropriate song given what I have to say about promises. But, I'll get to that a little bit later.

For now, why don't we talk a little bit about “Naked Eyes”, shall we?

The group was formed in Bath, England in late 1981/early 1982 by two childhood friends – Pete Byrne (vocals) and Rob Fisher (keyboards). Prior to forming Naked Eyes, they played in a band called Neon, which also featured Curt Smith and Roland Orzebal (who would later go on to form the successful UK based band “Tears for Fears”).

The band released their debut album in 1983, which peaked within the Top 40 on the Billboard 200 Charts, and their follow-up album, “Fuel for the Fire” also had minor success as well. Though it only managed to peak within the eighties on the Billboard 200, it did give the band one final Top 40 hit with “(What) In The Name Of Love”, peaking at #39 in 1984.

Shortly after the band's second album was released, both Byrne and Fisher went their separate ways, with Byrne relocating to the United States and Fisher remaining in the UK. Although the duo had limited success together as Naked Eyes, they racked up a series of solo projects which brought them much fame.

Let's take a look at Pete Byrne for example. He worked alongside Stevie Wonder on his 1985 single “Part-Time Lover”, sang background vocals for Rita Coolidge and Princess Stephanie of Monaco (Stephanie was quite the pop star in the mid-1980s), and even wrote a song for Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen! He's currently touring using the “Naked Eyes” name, and as recently as 2008, he reunited with other 1980s artists ABC, Belinda Carlisle, and The Human League for an American tour.

Rob Fisher also had some solo success. In 1987, Fisher teamed up with Simon Climie to form the UK based band Climie Fisher. The band had several hits before breaking up in 1990. In 1991, he helped co-write Rick Astley's hit single “Cry For Help”, and as the 1990s drew to a close, he was talking about reuniting with Byrne to release a brand new Naked Eyes album. Unfortunately, in 1999, Fisher was diagnosed with bowel cancer, and after undergoing a surgical procedure in an attempt to slow down the progression of the cancer, Fisher passed away on August 25, 1999 at the age of 42.

And, that's the story of Naked Eyes and their short-lived career.

So, how does “Promises, Promises” tie in to a personal confession that I will be sharing in this blog entry? Well, it has to do with the title.

This is an opinion piece about people who make promises...and why I have a hard time dealing with people who always break promises in a malicious manner.

Notice how I said malicious. Sometimes circumstances happen in which promises have to be broken to prevent something bad from happening to somebody else, and sometimes promises break all on their own to the fault of neither party. But for people who break promises faster than this dog busts balloons?

Well, I'll be blunt. I'm not very keen on people like that, and have made it a mission to cut them out of my life for good.

I'm going to be completely honest with all of you when I say this. I've always had a bit of difficulty putting my complete and total trust in people. It probably could explain why I haven't been in a serious relationship with anybody, or even why I have only a few strong friendships and connections with people. I guess in some ways, while I've made peace with things that have happened to me, I'm still a little guarded when it comes to what I reveal to people.

I know it seems like a shock, given how open and honest I am within this blog. But, typing it out and writing it down somehow seems better than trying to talk it out in person with someone. When you speak to people, sometimes the words don't come out the way you want them, or they're twisted around in such a way that they lose their meaning, or you completely forget that you even said them in the first place. But typing it out where the words are clearly visible means no backtracking on something that you claim you didn't say. It's out there, clear as day, staring at you like a white elephant in the room.

So, I'll be the first one to say that in the past, I've picked my friends very poorly. In elementary school in particular, I tried to be everyone's friend, and I would do almost anything to get that friendship. If it meant sharing my cookies at recess (in which by 'sharing', I mean, I gave them the entire hoard of cookies while I eat the chocolate chip that remained). It it meant giving them the answers to tests or how to spell words correctly, that's what I did. Unfortunately, things quickly turned pear-shaped, and when I needed something from them, they turned their backs on me and walked away. Nice, huh?

I also seem to recall several instances in which I was paired up with people in school projects, and we had to work together to make sure that the project was done well. Too often I was stuck in a group that had people who promised to do their part in the project. All they had to do was research the topic, or provide the visual aids, or put together the project, and time and time again, they would shirk the responsibility on someone else just so they didn't have to do the work. So, ultimately what happened was that I got stuck doing all of the work on the project. The good news was that the work that I did on the project ended up getting good marks. The bad news is that the people who did nothing to contribute to the project also got those same marks.

On one hand, that infuriated me...but looking back on it, I did have it coming for not standing up for myself or alerting a teacher about what was going on. But that was how I was misled into believing that was how I kept friends. You did everything they asked, and they would like you.

As we all know, that's not the truth. And, deep down inside, I think I knew it, but I was too gullible to realize it. Back when I was a kid, I bought into the promise of friendship like a fish would to a nice tasty worm hanging from a hook. And, I bought it hook, line, and sinker. The so-called friends that I was trying to impress weren't really my friends. They told me that if I helped them with their homework (which meant me doing the work and them getting the credit), and if I gave them things, then they would be my friend, and sit at my table, and hang out with me after school.

They made me promises, promises. Knowing I'd believe. Promises, promises, they knew they'd never keep.

Now, some of you might be looking at this moment as though I'm taking what a bunch of bratty kids did a little too seriously, and by all means, you do reserve the right to have that opinion. I won't fault you for it. But, all I'm saying is that my distrust and dislike for people who constantly break promises was infused in me at an early age. I've gotten a little soft as I grow older in that I am a little more open to trusting people again, but I don't take promises at face value anymore.

And, this isn't just limited to grade school either. At work, I expect people to keep their promises as well. I want them to treat me with respect the same way that I treat them. If I agree to switch shifts with someone, I would hope that both parties will live up to their agreements. And, if one party fails to live up to that agreement, then I doubt that there will be any shift trading in this or any lifetime.

Truth is, I've had a few co-workers burn me rather badly with promises that they had absolutely no intention of keeping, and as a result, I choose not to associate with them at all because I know they don't have my best interests at heart. If anything though, it's a win-win situation for me. I don't reveal anything to them that I don't want known, and they're left trying to bum a ride from someone else because they've burned their bridges.

I guess the moral of this tale is that if you make a promise to someone, you'd better have a really good reason for not keeping your word. If this were the game of Survivor, one might accept the fact that it is a game, and that breaking your word is essential for moving ahead in the game.

But life ain't no reality show. In the real world, there are consequences to poor actions and broken promises. I think some people need to realize that.

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