Open Arms Syndrome

This is Debbie; she was a central character in my nighttime life when I was a college Freshman. Debbie died in April 1982.
This is Debbie; she was a central character in my nighttime life when I was a college Freshman. Debbie died in April 1982.

During a casual moment at my office the other day, a couple of the guys and I were talking about some of the greatest songs of all time. In fact, I started and abandoned a Giant Muh entry about the greatest songs of all time just recently, after concluding that the list changed every five or ten minutes, largely due to another great song shuffling through on my iTunes playlist.

In the end I sort of conceded that Led Zeppelin’s Ten Years Gone was probably at the top of my list. If it’s not at the top of your list, you are dead inside.

This is Molly. As with Debbie, I had a little crush on her, though I had a girlfriend and they both had boyfriends. I have no idea if either of them shared my feelings at all.
This is Molly. As with Debbie, I had a little crush on her, though I had a girlfriend and they both had boyfriends. I have no idea if either of them shared my feelings at all.

Anyway, we were kinda making fun of this band and that, and I made a disparaging remark about the band Journey. Someone objected, and asserted that Journey was a great band. I countered by citing the video for Separate Ways, which is an abomination.

But it reminded me of something I noticed on an occasion during my freshman year in college. It was February 1982, just before my storied explorations of the college maintenance tunnel system. A bunch of us “night crowd” people were hanging out around the dormitory snack bar booths after the snack bar was closed. Someone had a boom box tuned to some local middle-of-the-road everyone-can-agree-to-ignore radio station. About three conversations were going on.

The song changed. It was Journey’s Open Arms, possibly the worst song to reach the top 40 in music history. As suddenly as that, all the conversations stopped, and … oh, it’s so traumatic I can hardly tell it. People began singing along. It wasn’t just the freshman girls. It was everyone.

In my lexicon, this has since been known as Open Arms Syndrome.

Afterwards I went up to my room and shampooed heavily in Houses of the Holy.

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3 Comments

  1. Dude, no. Untell that story, please. Even the guys? The GUYS?

    Anyway, I am sorry but not at all ashamed to tell you that I’ve never even heard of that Led Zepplin song you mentioned.

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  2. Songs, like paintings or photographs or flower scents, are either good or bad or awesome or terrible depending on each person’s reception — which can be affected by a thousand different factors, major ones of which include age, emotional state at the time, energy level, surroundings, whether you’re alone or with a significant other, and so on.

    In other words, there’s no *objective* method of determining a song’s rank in any all-time list. If there was an objective method, a list of measurable factors that determined a song’s greatness, it stands to reason that those who make music would simply reverse-engineer the method to produce only great songs.

    Also, if there was an objective method, then no one would ever argue about which songs are better/worse.

    Who am I to tell someone else that their favorite song is a suck bucket? They probably think the same thing about my favorite song (by the way, it’s Snoopy Vs. The Red Baron, by the Royal Guardsmen).

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