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Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Earworm Weekly: Seals and Crofts' "Get Closer"

Posted By on Tue, Aug 2, 2016 at 9:53 AM

Seals and Croft - ALLMUSIC.COM
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These days, after writing this column for so long, the earworms practically generate themselves. As I wrote my previous column on the Ghostbusters theme, for example, I listened to a lot of songs where Ray Parker Jr. played session guitar. This track didn't warrant a mention at the time – the rhythm guitar  is subtle and pretty much buried in the mix – but weeks later, Seals and Crofts “Get Closer” is still stuck in my head.
I didn't recognize the song by its title alone, but the first notes brought the whole thing back. “Get Closer” has all those soft-rock flourishes that everyone loves to deride: the wash of strings, the soulful piano, the soothing harmonies. Add to that the hyperbolic declarations of love and loss, like “I can't go on living” and the rising key change at the end, and you have the perfect '70s storm. (OK, actually they sing, “I can't go on living day-to-day wondering if you'll be here tomorrow,” which seems like a more reasonable sentiment. It's a clever use of line breaks, in fact, so award those songwriters extra points for craft.)

The lyrical premise of “Get Closer” is simple and pleasantly symmetrical. Seals and Crofts are asking for reciprocity in their romantic relationships. "If you desire emotional intimacy with me, I need you to open up more," they seem to be saying. "You want me to be monogamous with you? Then quit sleeping around with my friends."

It sounds good on the surface. However, I have learned through the school of hard knocks and many polyamory-friendly therapy sessions that asymmetrical arrangements are perfectly permissible if all parties are comfortable with the terms and consent freely and without coercion or emotional manipulation. You don't actually have to love only me for me to love only you. But if that's what they need in their relationship, then good on Seals and Crofts for their clear and straightforward communication skills.

Not that Jim Seals and Dash Crofts would be interested in the opinions of any polyamorists. The duo are deeply committed to the Bahai faith, which discourages any sort of sexual activity outside the bond of (heterosexual) marriage, at least for practitioners – Bahai believers do not expect non-adherents to follow their laws. Maybe that accounts for the warm and fuzzy quality of their recordings. It's all about cuddling, holding hands, and gazing soulfully into each other's eyes.

This song has the added bonus of the voice of Carolyn Willis. Willis was a member of the R&B group Honey Cone in the early 1970s. After the group broke up, she worked as a session singer in Los Angeles for many years before retiring. She seems to have never pursued a solo career; aside from “Get Closer,” you may also recognize her voice on the original “Wonder Woman” theme.

It's also interesting to watch Seals, Crofts, and Willis perform together live. Their sweet comradely chemistry brings a smile, but at the same time it feels a little like Willis is holding back out of politeness, so as not to blow her singing-mates off the stage.
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Lori Selke

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