• The Hesh

Lyric of the Week: KNOCKED OUT IN THE FIRST ROUND

Updated: Sep 23

When I saw that above-mentioned vision, I must have gone blind

When I heard it on the highway I nearly lost my mind

I was knocked out in the first round

Dead before I hit the ground

Knocked out in the first round

And I left what I once was behind

I saw the boardwalk lying empty like an unplowed field

I saw the casino’s doors all shut and sealed

I was knocked out in the first round

When I saw what became of my old town

Something got stolen and I couldn’t live it down

And it burned like a scar unhealed

There was a circle on the floor where the carousel used to be

There was G-d-only-knows-what where dad’s hotel used to be

There was just dirty water where the bumper boats used to be

There were cruisers and dealers where the rollercoaster used to be

The ferris wheel used to be

The pier of steel used to be

The sky ride, the high dive, this town’s appeal used to be

I don’t want to be a Used To Be

The true believers all come by busload and caravan

And it seems like every one of them has got a plan

But they’re all knocked out in the first round

When they see the disparities that still abound

Ready once again to burn it all to the ground

They don’t care, just as long as they see their man

Everybody holds out hope for some improvement

But nobody holds out any hope for any new amusement

It’s all knocked out in the first round

They bulldozed the Palace down

All they saved was the Tillie grin from the silly old clown

Now it’s all history but hey, at least there’s movement

There are upscale condos where the Monterey used to be

There are upscale condos where Net Lane’s used to be

There are upscale condos in what the Berkeley used to be

There are upscale condos where the St. James used to be

There’s upscale where everything we knew used to be

There’s upscale and more upscale as far as the eye can see

Maybe what’s better is what Used To Be

So here I am, still in my position as a rock’n’roll singer

A piano player in the place where my soul still stubbornly lingers

I wanna make sure my glory days don’t fade away

I wanna make sure my glory days are here to stay

I wanna make sure my glory days keep on being glory days

‘Cause they’re slipping right through my fingers

C-8 meets C-4 and then—implosion

Another piece of a broken dream falls into the ocean

We’re all knocked out in the first round

Dead before we hit the ground

Knocked out in the first round

Flat out cold still on the way down

Knocked out in the first round

Fall like bricks but without a sound

Knocked out in the first round

What I saw when I finally came back to this town

Knocked out in the first round

So much happened since then but I still can’t live it down

Knocked out in the first round

Oh … knocked out!

©2017 The Hesh Inc.

When I saw that above-mentioned vision, I must have gone blind ...

In July 1988, I returned to Asbury Park after being out of the country for five years. The last time I had been there, there were still rides and games along the boardwalk, cars were cruising "The Circuit," and the clubs, streets, boardwalk, and amusement palaces were full of people, especially on a Saturday night in the summer. But now the beachfront was a ghost town, with virtually no one there. The only signs of life were the block between First and Second Avenues, where a handful of reggae fans came out to see Jah Love open for Andrew Tosh at the Stone Pony and a huge biker gang milling about outside Mrs. Jay's Beer Garden, held in check by the presence of several police cars, an ambulance, and a fire engine. I may be smiling in the photo but I was stunned—I felt as if I had really taken a knockout blow to the jaw when I saw the devastation that had overtaken one of my favorite beach towns. I was so haunted by it that it took me YEARS to process it.

What was really embarrassing was that I had just gotten married (in Israel) to my first wife, who hailed from Colorado. She had been regaling me with tales of places like Aspen and Vail, and I reciprocated with "just WAIT until you see Asbury Park!" ... boy, did I eat some crow when she did in fact first see it. And it did not taste good.

I began writing the song in mid-1989, noodling on the piano in the empty Boston University Hillel House auditorium and singing the melody from the London Pirchei Boys' Choir's "Ani Maamin" from the 1970s, which itself was glommed from Dusty Springfield's "Summer Is Over." I began it with a bit of the intro to Rachmaninoff's 2nd Piano Concerto and then rocked it up. Ten years later I recorded a piano-and-voice-only version for what became the first Soul In Exile record (now out of print). But I always imagined that it would be recorded properly with a full band, and so it was, on Soul In Exile 3: Love Runs Aground.

ShoreWorld columnist John Pfeiffer, in his review for The Aquarian Weekly, described the song thus:

The next song up is called “Knocked Out In The First Round.” Pianos set the tone before [rhythm guitarist Lane Sparber] and [drummer Izzy] Kieffer come in to carry things away. Once the band is completely in, Hesh stretches out for a vocal exercise in quality lyrics and tone. Once again his subject is the Shore, but he tells the story of what was and what is left over now. Lots of “used to be” but it’s all necessary and vital. Between holding out for improvement over “Amusement” Hesh tells the real story of what goes on in that little “City by the Sea.” [Lead guitarist PK] Lavengood’s middle-eight lead break is all him, combining single-string breaks with bends and melodic voicings before [saxophonist Steve] Peckman comes in to take things into his direction. Hesh comes back to finish things off as only he can do and it’s a great song.

Listen to it here:

#newmusic #SoulInExile #CDrelease #AsburyPark #originallyrics

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