Well, this is pretty much a perfect song, isn’t it? I mean, those raspy guitars, the fantastic, multi-layered harmonies, the lyrics about fucking that don’t have a single dirty word in them and sound romantic as all hell, to boot. It’s just the perfect package, one of the ur-power pop songs.
And yet, it’s also kind of weird, too. For one thing, they take almost 30 seconds to get to the lyrics. But of course it’s a helluva 30 seconds, starting with a big, staccato guitar riff that Pete Townshend or Ray Davies would have killed to write in the mid-1960s, then teasing everybody with Eric Carmen’s backgrounded screams of “mama yeah” and guitarists Wally Bryson and Dave Smalley twisting some Chuck Berry for good measure while drummer Jim Bonfanti tosses rolls in and out for good measure. All of this happens before Eric Carmen opens his mouth to sing. Which is pure heaven.
I never knew how complete love could be
‘Til she kissed me and said:
Baby, please, (baby) go all the way (aaaaaaaayyyyyy)
It feels so right (feels so right)
Being with you here tonight
Please, (baby) go all the way (ayyyyyyy)
Just hold me close (hold me close)
Don’t ever let me go (don’t let me go)
It’s brilliant and somewhat hilarious, after all that build up, how the verse almost instantly melts into the chorus. Which is a fucking master class: check out out the background vocal “baby” just kind of slides out of the background, as do the “ooooooooohs”, which also contrast with the calls-and-responses throughout. It was nothing new, of course: the Beatles, Byrds and Beach Boys had also done things this intricate, but in 1972, that was centuries, and nobody was welding those kind of vocals with a song that also rocked this hard.
Especially during the extended bridge, which started with the riff, Carmen explaining how much she’s changed him, and then an build out where everybody trips over each other screaming “come on” back and forth before melting back into the chorus again. And then, after that, there’s another quick bit with the guitars jangling over each other in a stop time before the opening riff comes back to close the song.
Strictly speaking, they probably didn’t need all of that stuff — the riff and chorus were definitely enough — but what ended up happening was that “Go All The Way” was continually surprising you: you never knew what was coming next, and the second it was over you wanted to hear it again.
And so, back when songs like this could become massive hits, “Go All The Way” became just that, making it all the way to #5 on the Billboard chart and becoming an enduring classic.
“Go All The Way”
“Go All The Way” performed live
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