Album: Never A Dull Moment
. . .
Rod Stewart never really had what the pop chart folks call an “imperial phase,” where everything he released as a single automatically made the top 10. That said, he never really went away, either, lobbing occasional singles to the top of the charts until 1993, which is a pretty good run.
But that also means that songs you might remember as massive singles in the wake of “Maggie May” didn’t do as well as you might have expected: the Faces raucous “Stay With Me” and today’s “You Wear It Well maxed out at 17 and 13, respectively, the former overachieving and the latter underachieving.
And looking back it’s possible that “You Wear It Well” was maybe cut too much from the cloth of the still-everywhere “Maggie May” to be perceived as anything but a (slightly) inferior clone. Which isn’t fair, of course, even if “You Wear It Well” is dominated by Martin Quittendon’s acoustic guitar, Ian McLaglan’s organ and Mickey Waller’s eternal thump/smack.
Since you’ve been gone it’s hard to carry on
I’m gonna write about the birthday gown that I bought in town
When you sat down and cried on the stairs
You knew it did not cost the earth, but for what it’s worth
You made me feel a millionaire and you wear it well
Madame Onassis got nothing on you
Basically a love letter to an ex-flame, “You Wear It Well” rides Rod’s slightly wistful, slightly pleading vocal, and Dick Powell’s violin wending its way in and around the rest of the song. And if in 1972, it sounded too much like the classic “Maggie May” for comfort, today, that’s why it sounds so great.
I’m leaving Rod Stewart now: nothing he’s ever done since has affected me like those first four albums, even the fifth album — Smiler — he made with the same gang of idiots. There was some kind of magic that got lost, and he never bothered to look for it again. Has he probably made music in the half-century since that I would like? Probably, especially in retrospect, though I’m never going to care about his pre-rock songbook albums that regularly top the chart. But it doesn’t matter, because Rod Stewart’s work from 1969-1973 (including Faces, of course) give him a lifetime pass.
“You Wear It Well”
“You Wear It Well” on Top of The Pops, 1972
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