Doomed childhood sweethearts are a perennial pop topic, somewhat unfortunately since it’s hard to write a song about them that isn’t cloying. In fact, it’s hard to write a song about them that doesn’t make the singer sound like an abject emotional cripple if you think about the lyrics for more than five seconds. The highpoint of the micro-genre, Hot Chocolate’s demented “It Started With A Kiss”, faces this squarely (Errol Brown howling “You don’t remember me do you?!”), but “I’m Still Waiting” tries to magic its mentalism into poignancy. How does it do?
The song’s theme of endlessly deferred love suits Diana Ross pretty well, as she’s never been the most torrentially emotional of singers: her stock-in-trade is a slight aloofness, a sense that she’s never really singing in top gear. She tackles “I’m Still Waiting” with a particular balance of daydreaming and detachment. She can’t – and doesn’t try to – sell us the idea that the singer actually loves her age-five sweetheart, but she can sell us the idea that she’s used her belief in that ideal love to wall herself off from any other. It’s a cold, sad, effective performance, marred slightly by a rather bored spoken word sequence and backed up by a suitably opulent arrangement (it’s easily the most expensive-sounding Number One of the period). Ultimately maybe it’s even too effective – the walls the protagonist puts up stops the song from touching me that much. But I admire Ross for having the poise and intelligence to save “I’m Still Waiting” from its lyric’s luring sentimentality.
SPECIAL POPULAR REQUEST: To my horror, I have discovered that my copy of “Ernie (The Fastest Milkman In The West)”, cuts off before the end. This obviously makes it difficult to review properly, also I want to know what happens. If anyone can provide freakytrigger at gmail dot com with an MP3, I’d be very grateful. Benefactors can remain anonymous if they wish.