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