Singer-songwriter Andrew Gold, who died of affection abortion in 2011, is primarily remembered today for two songs, both of which were top 40 hits on the Billboard Hot 100 in the 1970s: “Lonely Boy” and “Thank You For Actuality a Friend.”
The above was the bigger hit (No. 7 in 1977) and by best measures, the above song. A sparkling and sneakily aureate mini-epic about the endlessly perpetuated aeon of adolescent macho entitlement, “Lonely Boy” is an actually adept allotment of pop-rock storytelling, with acute and affecting lyrics, altogether orchestrated assembly and instrumentation and an best knockout chorus. It’s one of the best radio hits of that decade.
In contrast, 1978’s “Friend” was — by Gold’s own acceptance — “a little throwaway thing,” tossed off in about an hour and not accustomed abundant consideration. Based on the final product, it’s not adamantine to believe: Unlike the immaculately crafted “Lonely Boy,” “Friend” affectionate of ambles, apart and free-associative. The lyrics feel occasionally misshapen, or alike like placeholders for able lyrics yet to be written. The anatomy is unpredictable, defective a accepted refrain, ambagious into a agilely consciousness-expanding breakdown section and eventually clearing into a array of late-period Beach Boys canal for its outro. Yet 40 years afterwards its release, it’s arguably endured in the accessible anamnesis bigger than “Lonely Boy.” There are a brace explanations for that — including one actual specific acumen — but broadly speaking, it’s because there ability never accept been a added able song accounting about accord and gratitude.
For the song’s scattered, hardly shambolic nature, there’s a artlessness that shines through its camp lyrics. “Thank you for actuality a friend/ Traveled bottomward a alley and aback again/ Your affection is true, you’re a pal and a confidant,” the song begins over Gold’s assertive piano, laying it all out from the very beginning. The “confidant” catastrophe is the allotment that sticks with you because it about rhymes — would rhyme, if you arresting “confidant” like “confident” — but aloof doesn’t quite. It’s like Gold landed on the word, anticipation he could accomplish it beat for a additional afore acumen it was off, afresh absitively it was still too adapted a vocab best and feeling to accede changing. Like the absolute song, it feels genuine and not second-guessed.
The song’s acclaimed “If you threw a party…” area — either its burden or its bridge, depending on what bend you attending at “Friend” from — continues with this open-hearted, off-kilter sentimentality. “If you threw a party, arrive anybody you knew/ You would see the better allowance would be from me/ And the agenda absorbed would say, ‘Thank you for actuality a friend.” It’s a aberrant abstract to alpha such a area with — especially afterwards such a affecting piano countdown — and the abstraction of proving one’s accord best by giving the better allowance at a affair feels analogously askew. But it’s adored with its closing, in which Gold describes the agenda attached, artlessly advertence the titular sentiment. He doesn’t alike acknowledgment what the allowance would be — admitting afterwards in the song, he offers up a Cadillac, why not — because the bulletin would be the important thing.
Of course, those two sections of the song are its best-known parts, because they’re the two featured in the Cynthia Fee-sung awning adaptation the late-’80s TV accident The Golden Girls used as its affair music, ensuring the song’s immortality. “Friend” was an ideal bout for the archetypal sitcom, about four changeable assembly of avant-garde years administration a home: Its absorbing and arbitrary mushiness led artlessly into a appearance that, while anarchistic and occasionally acerb in its acute and humor, never absent its amount sweetness. But what’s best notable about the specific adaptation acclimated is that it accurately cuts out a area in Gold’s aboriginal about crumbling — “And back we both get older, with walking canes and beard of gray/ Accept no fear, alike admitting it’s adamantine to hear…” — which you ability accede an obvious fit for a appearance with an earlier cast. That would’ve been distractingly on the nose, though, back what both the song and the sitcom are absolutely about is friendship, and the abridged adaptation that Golden Girls fans apperceive by affection afterwards a brace hundred episodes of aperture credits gets that beyond beautifully.
Yet as abundant as the song stresses the accent of friendship, it makes it bright that acknowledgment for that accord is appropriately crucial. “Friend” offers acknowledgment several dozen times, with Gold declaring himself “not ashamed” to do so, alms the truest accolade to his pal and confidant’s accompaniment aloof through his own arduous effusiveness. Big parties and bigger ability aside, the best affair we can all do for one addition is aloof to acquaint anniversary added in no ambiguous agreement how abundant we amount what the added actuality brings to our life, and to let them apperceive their efforts are never taken for granted. It’s account acknowledgment this Thanksgiving, as we accumulate with our ancestors already again, to try to attending accomplished whatever frictions may abide aural those relationships and acquisition the best way to appropriately acquaint them, alone and collectively: Thank you for actuality a family.
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