Earworm Of The Week #4 – Odyssey and “If You’re Looking For A Way Out”

No prizes for guessing how this song popped into my subconscious this week as it’s now all about how we’re going to get out of lockdown, but as an earworm it’s a pleasant one, and it’s made me want to look into the story of the singing group Odyssey a bit more. For a long time I used to confuse them with fellow Americans Rose Royce because their most successful years in the UK Singles Chart coincided, and both produced up-tempo disco numbers but also beautiful ballads.

Odyssey would have first entered my radar during my final year of senior school as their first big hit in the UK reached the No. 2 spot that Christmas. Native New Yorker was more successful over here than in their native US which became a pattern for the rest of their career and eventually led them to move to the UK permanently.

The song was originally written for Frankie Valli but when covered by Odyssey it became their first hit. The song is about a girl who is unlucky in love. The singer is telling her that as a native New Yorker, she should know by now that love is as fabricated as a Broadway show, and that you have to look out for yourself in the city. It’s a song about disillusionment that captures the downside of the self-reliant New York lifestyle.

Now we’re fast-forwarding to the summer of 1980 and it was one of their songs I just couldn’t miss, as it spent 12 weeks on the UK Singles Chart and 2 weeks at the top spot. Believe it or not this song title inavertedly pops up in our house just about every other day, as whenever we look in the fridge and spot something that needs used up, we always ask each other if we should, Use it up and wear it out?“. It’s been hard-wired into our brains by Odyssey that you can’t say the first bit without adding the second!

By the end of the summer of 1980 they released a follow-up single, If You’re Lookin’ for a Way Out with Lillian Lopez again on lead vocals. It’s a bit of a tear-jerker and had I not been all loved-up that summer, but rather going through a painful break up, it would have made for tough listening. This single reached the No. 6 spot and spent 15 weeks on the UK Singles Chart. The common factor in all three featured songs is that they were either written or produced by Sandy Linzer who is a new name for me but seems to have been really prolific in the ’60s/’70s writing for Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons.

So if you’re looking for a way out
I won’t stand here in your way

Don’t look at the tears that I’m crying
They’ll only make you wanna stay
Don’t kiss me again ’cause I’m dying
To keep you from running away

To be fair, the person I was all loved-up with that summer did cause much heartache down the line, and looking at these lyrics I was not as magnanimous. You do feel like you’re dying inside and I did stand in his way, but ultimately to no avail. Does that make me a bad girlfriend? I don’t think so – Just a broken-hearted one.

If You’re Looking For A Way Out by Odyssey:

So, I now know a lot more about the group Odyssey and will no longer confuse them with Rose Royce. It’s also been nice to have a break from writing about all that’s going on in the world at the moment and just concentrate on the music (although this one definitely inspired by what’s going on). I have a few more drafts that would be good to get down in print as I’ve not yet written about any of the sad deaths we’ve had from the world of music this year, which is remiss of me. Easy to get distracted at the moment however.

Until next time….

If You’re Lookin’ For A Way Out Lyrics
(Song by Sandy Linzer, Ralph Kotkov)

Love is crazy baby, I can see it in your eyes
Your kisses taste the same
But it’s just a sweet disguise
Ain’t that just like you
To worry about me
But we promised to be honest
With each other for all eternity
So if you’re looking for a way out
I won’t stand here in your way
And if you’re looking for a way out

Don’t look at the tears that I’m crying
They’ll only make you wanna stay
Don’t kiss me again ’cause I’m dying
To keep you from running away
(Run away, run away, run away, run away, run away, run away)

Oh baby tell me I’m wrong
Just say I’m crazy
It’s with you that I belong
It’s never easy when lovers have to part
Oh come on stop pretending
Tell me what’s in you heart
And if you’re looking for a way out
I won’t stand here in your way
But if you’re looking for a way out

Don’t look at the tears that I’m crying
They’ll only make you wanna stay
Don’t kiss me again ’cause I’m dying
To keep you from running away

Don’t look at the tears that I’m crying
They’ll only make you wanna stay
Don’t love me again ’cause I’m tryin’
To keep you from running away
(Baby don’t run away, baby don’t run away)

Don’t you run away (ooh ooh)
(Ooh ooh)
Oh come on stop pretending
Tell me what’s in your heart

Postscript:

I don’t know if any of you have watched the new BBC adaptation of the Sally Rooney novel Normal People but I would thoroughly recommend it. It made me realise that the Sligo of today in the drama is very like the rural Aberdeenshire I grew up in and many of the storylines resonated. It’s probably not for everyone but just as the song featured above is a real tear-jerker, without giving too much away, the drama is a real tear-jerker too and involves young people who are around the age I was when these songs came into my life.

I went to a school that punched above its weight in terms of academic success for its pupils and many of us from what I would call a working class culture headed off to university. Not always easy to assimilate though and I strongly identified with the male character Connell. No, not easy when you find yourself straddling two worlds but not fitting into either – If you watch it, I’d be interested in your thoughts.

NORMAL PEOPLE
Connell and Marianne from Normal People

Author: Alyson

Whenever I hear an old song on the radio, I am immediately transported back to those days - I know I'm not alone here and want to record those memories for myself and for the people in them. 50 years ago the song "Alfie" was written by my favourite songwriting team Bacharach and David - The opening line to that song was "What's it all about?" and I'm hoping that by writing this blog, I might find the answer to that question.

8 thoughts on “Earworm Of The Week #4 – Odyssey and “If You’re Looking For A Way Out””

    1. Hi Chris – Thanks for giving it a whirl. Funnily enough we just made an omelette for lunch with some mushrooms we had to “use up and wear out”!

      Hope you are doing ok and that life isn’t too tough for you at the moment?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’m alright thanks. Less socializing but still able to visit a few people at a distance. Libraries opening here in May which is nice. From what I hear, restrictions are tougher in the UK with only one walk a day and not able to leave the local area. Is that the case for you too?

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Good to hear – Yes we’re still pretty much locked down with only essential trips for food and exercise allowed. No sign of things changing much in the near future either.

          Liked by 1 person

  1. Jings, that brings back memories. When I left home, ‘Use It Up and Wear It Out’ was on a mix tape that my brother gave me. Shortly afterwards, the relationship I was in ended (Sixth Form romance and engagement that didn’t survive the distances involved, and I was dumped), and I too must admit that I was broken-hearted. Seems things turned out ok though! We will give ‘Normal People’ a try.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s incredible how music brings back memories from just so long ago and this song has made me feel quite emotional today. It’s a tricky time in life’s journey isn’t it, leaving old friends behind after school and starting afresh elsewhere. Not easy but as you say, seems things turned out ok!

      The drama Normal People might not be your thing (and we definitely couldn’t have watched it with DD if she’d still been at home as she’d have been mortified) but like the music, it just reminded me of that time when you’re straddling life in your old school stomping ground and your new life at college or university. Can be tough and it was for me.

      Like

  2. We’ve missed out Normal People but I’ve read a few great reviews and now to see your comments here I’m wishing we’d watched it from the start. I can’t relate to the experience of being away at university myself (only college whilst living at home!) but I can understand how it must have been in many ways, with all the navigation of relationships thrown into the mix too and so much to learn (much of it outside the lecture rooms!) Have you read any of Andrew Collins’ autobiographies, by the way? If not, ‘Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now’ in particular deals with the time in his life when he moved down to London to go to art school in the ’80s – it’s a great insight into such a rite-of-passage and in an era which we can very much identify with! (Lots of big hair and political activism!)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi – It’s on the iPlayer which is where we watched it. One episode after the other in around a week. Think it was more my sort of thing than Mr WIAA’s but reminded me so much of what it was like to leave the comfort zone of your small town for student life in the big city. Took a fair bit of time to assimilate. Will have to look out for that book – sounds as if there would be lots to identify with.

      Like

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