Supertramp – Child of Vision (1979)
from the album “Breakfast in America”.
What a great band, and what a great album. Arguably their magnum opus, one would think the choice would fall upon one of the more well-known songs, like the amazing title track or “The Logical Song”. Actually, both these tracks are also part of my extensive “favourite songs”-catalogue, but this one, the finishing song off the album, is a real deep cut and lyrically hits the hardest for me. And I’m a lyric-kind-of-person!
Well, not to take away the effect of that amazing Wurlizer piano though! Piano is underrated in rock anyway, you know.
“Well, who do you think you’re foolin’?
You say you’re havin’ fun,
But you’re busy going nowhere,
Just lying in the sun.
You tried to be a hero,
commit the perfect crime
but the dollar got you dancing
and you’re running out of time.”
The songwriter Roger Hodgson said it was a look at how Americans live, though admitted to limited experience of American culture himself. To me, it’s not necessarily a cultural statement as such, although this song could be viewed as a companion piece to “Gone Hollywood”, another diamond in the Supertramp backpack of great songs. It’s more about the corruption of the lifestyle you think you want for yourself, the empty shell of what’s portrayed as desirable in media. It’s about starting off as an idealistic young person (“you tried to be a hero”) but settling for something much simpler and easier, and about maybe being persuaded by money as opposed to following your ideas and ideals (“but the dollar got you dancing”) and then you find yourself simply too old to go back (“and you’re running out of time”).
“How can you live in this way?
You must have something to say.
There must be more to this life.
It’s time we did something right.
Child of Vision, won’t you listen?
Find yourself a new ambition.”
Surely, you must have something to say, surely, you must have an opinion? Nope, it’s just shoulder-shrugging and “whatever”, something from a person that just gave up, and the frustration of a friend, or foe, or whatever, watching that person just fade into obscurity of a life too well-adjusted (“how can you live in this way? You must have something to say”). Come on, all of us above the age of 25 know someone like that, someone who you kind of looked up to, that you were once in awe of, someone you watched either close or from afar, but who somehow, idealistically , disappointed you. It could be a friend, it could be an idol, someone who once was a true “Child of Vision”.
“I’ve heard it all before
You’re saying nothing new
I thought I saw a rainbow
But I guess it wasn’t true
You cannot make me listen”
The words that once rang so true, brings nothing new to the table anymore. This person simply can’t back it up anymore, they keep repeating the same old words, but they don’t believe it themselves anymore, so how can they expect us to? (“I thought I saw a rainbow, but I guess it wasn’t true”).
Oh, don’t we all know that feeling, it’s the feeling of growing up, isn’t it?