Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Song of the Day: 'Vacation' by the Textones / Go-Go's

I'm always fascinated to learn popular songs by bands were actually reworked numbers from members' previous outfits -- "Somebody to Love" and "White Rabbit" were from Grace Slick's previous group, the Great Society -- and especially when they are markedly different. Case in point, "Vacation," which would go on to be the second biggest single for the Go-Go's. 

In an interview Jane Wiedlin gave to Songfacts, where the journalist keeps (accidentally?) asking her about songs she didn't write(!), she had this to say about it:
"Vacation" was Kathy's song, and Kathy was the last Go-Go to join. She joined at the beginning of '81 and she brought that song with her from her band, The Textones. We really loved the song, but it didn't really have a chorus. So Charlotte and I ended up working with Kathy a little bit more on the song, and sort of Go-Go-fying it, basically adding the chorus. But that storyline was one about having a summer romance, thinking that it was all just for fun and games, and then later realizing that you actually love. So that's what that one's about.
Although she's right that they fleshed it out a bit, the more stripped down sound of the original almost reminds me of "Goodbye to You" by Scandal. From what I remember on Kathy's priceless Twitter memoir, the line Jane added that significantly moved the rewrite along was changing "A week without you / I should forget / Two weeks without you / And I'm still thinking about the things that you said" into "And I still haven't gotten over you yet," a great line, indeed.

Looking at the lyrics today, however, they're even more substantially different than I initially recall from first hearing the Textones version years ago. Jane's right that they gave the song a more traditional chorus, although the verses -- early version and later -- definitely remain its best part.

"Vacation" (original)
Written by Kathy Valentine

I thought a lot of things about you
I stayed awake just thinking 'bout you
But now I'm away
You had to stay
Tomorrow's a day of mine that you won't be in

I tried to say I was just having fun
But I really knew that you were the one
And now that I'm gone
I see I was wrong
I should have known all along that time would tell

A week without you
I should forget
Two weeks without you
And I'm still thinking about the things that you said.

Just another holiday
I hope you love me
Would you think of me?

I think I'll leave without saying goodbye
I think that you know the reason why
What if I was to stay?
Would things turn out some other way?
I'll never know anyway

Riding high on the success of "Beauty and the Beat," the Go-Go's released a concert video called "Totally Go-Go's," which was recorded Dec. 4, 1981, at Palos Verdes High School near Los Angeles. Because they only had one album out, the gals were already performing other material at their live shows, and Kathy's "Vacation" was clearly already in the band's repertoire. What I find interesting looking back is that the song isn't quite the Textones version, nor is it the finished product that would be the title track from their sophomore album, but sort of a hybrid of the two. Have a listen:

In the end, though, the finished product was probably the best, even if I questioned whether or not the heroine was missing someone she'd met on a vacation or if she went on vacation to forget someone at home. (Kathy straightened me out -- it's the former!). And I'm not the only one who has been tripped up by this song, remember?

And it goes something like this:

1 comment:

TrackerNeil said...

Kathy Valentine's Twitter memoir is gone, but in it I seem to recall reading that Jane's contribution to the song was the line, "Can't seem to get my mind off of you." That was apparently a last-minute change, made just before the band recorded it for their album, "Vacation."

KV said at the time that Jane and Charlotte had helped her with the chorus, but in the memoir she revealed that was never true. Kathy and Charlotte worked up the chorus and Jane came up with the first line of the verse.

Maybe I better Googler than I could come up with a cached version of that memoir, but the rest of us will just have to wait until KV publishes her memoir, which apparently she is working on now. It will be epic.