I love Hall and Oates. Unapologetically and without irony and for always.
I loved them in the early Atlantic Records days, when the young disciples of Philly Soul crooned Sara Smile and She’s Gone and reminded us all that you didn’t have to be black to have soul.
I loved them in 1977 when their monster number one hit Rich Girl made children giggle and adults wonder why the radio could play a song that said “bitch” over and over.
I loved them in the early 1980s when their hooky, synth-drenched pop confections like Kiss On My List, I Can’t Go For That (No Can Do) and Private Eyes dominated the airwaves and we were reminded that impeccably written songs and perfectly produced pop records could actually affect your dopamine level and make you believe world peace was possible, if only for three and half minutes.
I loved them my Senior year of high school when Linda Cresti and Nancy Kirschner’s spirited jazz dance to Did It In A Minute brought the house down.
I loved them when I moved to Manhattan in 1983 and I got Daryl Hall’s haircut and that we three – Daryl, John and me all lived within blocks of each and even though we were strangers we walked down the same West Village streets thinking about the O’Jays.
I loved Hall & Oates when Elisa and I would crowd around the television in the lobby of Weinstein, our NYU dorm, and watch their videos in the nascent days of MTV with the same sense of wonderment and excitement our parents had felt gathering around a neighbor’s television to watch The Honeymooners a generation before.
I loved them in 1984, when the RIAA named Hall & Oates the “Best Selling Duo” of all-time, besting Simon and Garfunkel, The Everly Brothers, The Carpenters, Sonny and Cher, Steely Dan, Wham and even Daryl and John’s spiritual forebearers, The Righteous Brothers. Just like that! Big, Bam Boom!
I still loved the duo in 1987 when Monte Lipman got me my first job in the record business, an internship at Arista Records, and the A&R department asked the entire staff what they felt the second single off Ooh Yeah! should be and I voted for Downtown Life but they went with Missed Opportunity and it only peaked at number 29 and I felt like that was a very accurate name for what they got for not listening to me.
I still loved Daryl and John when the hits stopped coming and they were regarded for a time, coldly and cruelly, as some kitschy relic of 1980s pop culture.
I loved them in 2003 when they were inducted into the Songwriter’s Hall of Fame.
And I love the boys today, while I’m sitting here writing and that enough years have passed and their music’s consistent quality has trumped any inclination for the reflexive “guilty pleasure” designation. Because after all these years, we’re still listening.