Supertramp – Breakfast In America

On a far distant radio a few days ago I heard It’s Raining Again and then this one. Sometimes I forget how big Supertramp was in the 70s and 80s…especially after this album.

In 1979 the album Breakfast In America was huge. The album had 4 singles in the Billboard 100. The album peaked at #1 in the Billboard Album Charts, #1 in Canada, #1 in New Zealand, and #3 in the UK…and won 2 Grammys.

The title song peaked at #62 in the Billboard 100 and #9 in the UK in 1979.

This album was released in 1979 and it came at the height of new wave and disco. Its domination of the single and album charts, and the airwaves, had to be unexpected by all concerned. Breakfast In America eclipsed anything they had done before and skyrocketed the band into the commercial stratosphere. Supertramp was never a typical chart band or obvious stadium touring giants. After this album, everything changed.

When they came to record the album, all five members had relocated full-time to the West Coast and bought apartments or houses there, and it was decided that the Colorado (Caribou Ranch) studio had been too sterile and so a new headquarters was found for Supertramp and co in Burbank, a home-from-home that was promptly given the name Southcombe. There, throughout 1978, they rehearsed the material and prepared the demos that would eventually be recorded at the Village Recorder studio in Los Angeles.

Roger Hodgson and Davies wrote most of the songs. They sometimes shared credit on songs… but  Roger Hodgson wrote this song 8 years earlier. Davies and Rogerson had a disagreement over the first line in the song. Rick Davies didn’t like “Take a look at my girlfriend, she’s the only one I got.” Roger won the battle.

Roger Hodgson:  “He never liked the lyric to ‘Breakfast.’ It’s so trite: ‘Take a look at my girlfriend.’ He’s much more into crafting a song. He would have been happier if I’d changed the lyric to either something funnier or more relevant. I tried, but it didn’t work out, so I was stuck with the original.”

Roger Hodgson: “The line ‘playing my jokes upon you,’ I think that kind of sums up the song. It was just mind chatter. Just writing down ideas as they came – fun thoughts all strung together. And I do remember the Beatles had just gone to America, and I was pretty impressed with that. That definitely stimulated my dream of wanting to go to America. And obviously seeing all those gorgeous California girls on the TV and thinking, Wow. That’s the place I want to go.”

Roger Hodgson: “I think I was 17 when I found this wonderful pump organ – a harmonium that you pump with your feet. I found it in this old lady’s house in the countryside near where I lived in England. I bought it for £26, and when I brought it back I proceeded to write all these songs on it: ‘Breakfast In America,’ ‘Two Of Us,’ ‘Soapbox Opera,’ even the beginning of ‘Fool’s Overture’ and ‘Logical Song.’ It’s amazing what this instrument pulled out of me.”

Here is a good live version…you are bloody well right!

Breakfast In America

Take a look at my girlfriend
She’s the only one I got
Not much of a girlfriend
Never seem to get a lot

Take a jumbo across the water
Like to see America
See the girls in California
I’m hoping it’s going to come true
But there’s not a lot I can do

Could we have kippers for breakfast
Mummy dear, mummy dear
They got to have ’em in Texas
‘Cause everyone’s a millionaire

I’m a winner, I’m a sinner
Do you want my autograph
I’m a loser, what a joker
I’m playing my jokes upon you
While there’s nothing better to do

Ba-ba-ba-dow, ba-bow-dum-doo-de-dow-de-dow, de
Ba-ba-ba-dow, ba-bow-dum-de-doo-de-dow
Na na na, nana na na na na

Don’t you look at my girlfriend (girlfriend)
She’s the only one I got
Not much of a girlfriend (girlfriend)
Never seem to get a lot (what’s she got, not a lot)

Take a jumbo cross the water
Like to see America
See the girls in California
I’m hoping it’s going to come true
But there’s not a lot I can do

Ba-ba-ba-dow, ba-bow-dum-doo-de-dow-de-dow, de
Ba-ba-ba-dow, ba-bow-dum-de-doo-de-dow

Hey oh, hey oh, hey oh, hey oh,
Hey oh, hey oh, hey oh, hey oh

Na na na, nana na na na nana

Supertramp – Take The Long Way Home

Sixth grade…in sixth grade this album and the songs on it was huge.

Co-credited to bandleaders Roger Hodgson and Rick Davies, but written solely by Hodgson. They had a Lennon/McCartney song writing relationship that would credit both no matter if one person wrote it.

The song peaked at #10 in the Billboard 100 and #4 in Canada in 1979. Breakfast in America peaked at #1 in the Billboard Album Charts, Canada, New Zealand, and #3 in New Zealand.

It was written shortly before Supertramp went in the studio to record the Breakfast In America album, Roger Hodgson said the song was a last minute addition.

According to Producer Peter Henderson the album took 9 months to record. The reason for this is because there was no There were no click tracks and or splicing of the backing tracks. They all played the backing tracks live in the studio. The result was a fresh sounding album that was a massive hit.

The band refused a $5 million offer from the Greyhound company to use this song in bus commercials.

Roger Hobson: I’m talking about not wanting to go home to the wife, take the long way home to the wife because she treats you like part of the furniture, but there’s a deeper level to the song, too. I really believe we all want to find our home, find that place in us where we feel at home, and to me, home is in the heart and that is really, when we are in touch with our heart and we’re living our life from our heart, then we do feel like we found our home.

From Songfacts

At the press meeting when Breakfast In America was presented, Roger Hodgson explained that this song is about a guy who thinks he’s really cool (“So you think you’re a romeo, playing a part in a picture show”), but it seems that he’s the only one who thinks that. This implies that our hero avoids getting home because when he’s on the road he has a few more moments of being alone with his dreams, and in his dreams he’s a superstar.

It was another angle on the question that ran deep inside me, which is, ‘Where’s my home? Where’s peace?’ It felt like I was taking a long way to find it.”

More lyric analysis:

“But there are times that he feels he’s part of the scenery, all the greenery is comin’ down” – It seems that in real life he’s “the joke of the neighborhood” (“why should you care if you’re feeling good” is him trying to rationalize) and his wife “seems to this that he’s a part of the furniture.” In real life he “never sees what he wants to see.”

“When he’s up on the stage, it’s so unbelievable, unforgettable, how they adore him. And then his wife seems to think he’s losing his sanity… Does it feel that you life’s become a catastrophe? Oh, it has to be for you to grow, boy.” – This is the phase of our lives when we accept the fact that we’ll never be what we wanted and become ordinary, we take it very hard, but we grow into it.

“He looks through the years and see what he could have been, what might have been, if he’d had more time.” – Time is always to blame when we want to do something, but don’t. This guy always wanted to be someone, but he got stuck taking the long way home so now it’s even difficult for him being ordinary: “So, when the day comes to settle down, Who’s to blame if you’re not around? You took the long way home.” 

Roger Hodgson’s debut solo DVD was titled Take the Long Way Home, Live in Montreal. It was released in Canada in 2006, where it went to #1 and sold over a million copies. The DVD was released worldwide in 2007 and is Gold in France.

“Take The Long Way Home” has endured as a favorite: it was chosen as the #5 favorite song in Mojo magazine’s readers’ poll in 2006.

Take The Long Way Home

So you think you’re a Romeo
Playing a part in a picture-show
Take the long way home
Take the long way home

‘Cause you’re the joke of the neighborhood
Why should you care if you’re feeling good
Take the long way home
Take the long way home

But there are times that you feel you’re part of the scenery
All the greenery is comin’ down, boy
And then your wife seems to think you’re part of the furniture
Oh, it’s peculiar, she used to be so nice

When lonely days turn to lonely nights
You take a trip to the city lights
And take the long way home
Take the long way home

You never see what you want to see
Forever playing to the gallery
You take the long way home
Take the long way home

And when you’re up on the stage, it’s so unbelievable,
Oh unforgettable, how they adore you,
But then your wife seems to think you’re losing your sanity,
Oh, calamity, is there no way out, oh yeah
Ooh, take it, take it out
Take it, take it out
Oh yeah

Does it feel that your life’s become a catastrophe?
Oh, it has to be for you to grow, boy
When you look through the years and see what you could have been
Oh, what you might have been,
If you’d had more time

So, when the day comes to settle down,
Who’s to blame if you’re not around?
You took the long way home
You took the long way home
Took the long way home
You took the long way home
You took the long way home, so long
You took the long way home
You took the long way home, uh yeah
You took the long way home

Long way home
Long way home
Long way home
Long way home
Long way home
Long way home