Conversation: Private Eyes

In Choice Cuts, Features, Song Reviews on February 9, 2011 at 10:24 pm

I’m really proud of the work my Montreal compadres do on all the local news and show information. Unfortunately, as the lone Procrastinator trapped down here in the desolate Washington D.C area (note the capital P, because trust me, there’s quite a few regular procrastinators in the United States’ capital), I can’t really contribute the way the rest of the boys can. Instead, I attempt to make my mark through my (hopefully) clever writing, (probably not that) unique opinions, and over use of parentheses (funny, right?). Anyway, we’re looking to expand on some of the more original content in the weeks to come. Here’s a little taste of what we have to offer, in the form of an old piece Matty and I did on the inscrutable Hall and Oates.

Ethan: There are few bands of our time, or of any time, like Hall and Oates. Between Hall’s sultry singing voice and Oate’s epitome-of-the-70s-man moustache, the group defies genre, era, and essentially everyone and everything. While the group had countless hits, few personified their sound and general persona like the pop rock epic ‘Private Eyes’. With a clever pun (detectives, get it?) and a killer drum part (I genuinely believe that any human being, regardless of mental capacity, could play this part with less than 30 minutes of teaching- and that may be what makes it so great), the wonderboys crafted a beautiful pop song that entertains us to this day.

Matt: You’re absolutely right. This is pop music at some of its finest. It’s all there; the way-too-simple (and way-too-sexy) music accompanied by the lyrical gems that one could only expect from two of the greats of the game, Daryl Hall and John Oates. What we must not overlook in the song, is that Daryl is stressing the fact that you (as in ‘his girl’), better not be doing anything I (as in ‘Oates’) would not like, even when you think I (as in ‘Oates) am not watching you (as in ‘his girl’). It’s romantic-paranoia, very relatable. Who hasn’t felt that very human desire to have your love interest followed around all day by silly (and yet serious) looking trenchcoat-wearing musicians? I know I have.

Ethan: What many regrettably dismiss is the significance of the music video itself. Watch Oates as he hides and dances around beside his partner, only to unleash the emotion he has at the beginning of the chorus. Are Hall and Oates to be thought of as different characters in this song? Is Oates watching Hall, jealous of his partner’s action when he isn’t around? Notice the magnifying glass that Hall pulls away from the camera right as the first lines to the song kick in. Are we voyeuristically watching Hall and Oates? Are they watching us? What are we to make of the quick dress change in the chorus, as our boys themselves become P.I.’s. Pay close attention to the bass player’s expression in the closing seconds of the video. What are we to think of him, and what does he think of Hall and Oates? Like many an artistic statement, the group’s video seems to pose more questions than it answers.

Matt: Great point. There are a lot of unanswered questions, and the video is just the tip of the iceberg. What are we to make of the lyrics? Well, let’s start with the first line: “I see you / and you see me / but you’re blurring the line / when you’re making a scene.” It’s meaning appears to be a mystery, which fits with the dark intrigue that the video hints at. The first part makes sense, I (Daryl) see you (his lady) and I (Daryl) seem to understand that you (my lady) also see me. Now the first question is, right off the bat are we to assume that I have been using my private eyes to watch you, all the while acknowledging that you know that I am watching you? And this leads to further questions, such as: Does this mean that you are also spying on me, or do you just notice that I am spying on you? Do I even know you, and do you even know me? Have we ever even spoken? Is this a ‘Roxanne’ by The Police kind of number? If I am spying on you, you seem to know, which says something about me as a person…that I don’t care that you know I’m spying on you. Of course, there is the possibly that this is just two people, seeing each other, and there’s nothing (that) weird going on. If this is the case, then what are we to make of the next line, “But you’re blurring the line / when you’re making a scene”? You tell me, because I’m baffled.

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Jan Hayes and Realmenwork6, Steve Eldon Kerr. Steve Eldon Kerr said: Conversation: Private Eyes. New Original Content and Series @Middaypro: […]

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