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Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Boats Against the Current/Eric Carmen

The last line of F. Scott Fitzgerald's classic 1925 novel The Great Gatsby--

So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.

--provides the chorus and the title of Eric Carmen's song Boats Against the Current, as well as the title of the 1977 album it appeared on. The song wasn't directly inspired by the book, however, but by a falling out Carmen had with his record producer.

On his website, Carmen describes the origins of the song:

It came, music and lyrics, at four in the morning out of a sound sleep. I wrote it down as fast as I could. It came all at once—the first two verses were completely written. The lyric was originally inspired by the breakup of myself and Jimmy Ienner, my producer. It was written about a friendship that had reached a point where we both knew we had to go our separate ways for a time....As is sometimes the case with me, my very best song will come last, when I don't need it anymore. I just happened to be finishing The Great Gatsby the day I had written the verses of "Boats Against The Current," and that one paragraph was exactly about what the song was about. So I sat and read it and I thought, "Tomorrow, we'll run a little bit faster, tomorrow…" I was on that last page when I said, "Here's the chorus and the title of my album."

Carmen describes "Boats Against the Current" as "my favorite song that I've ever written."

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