“You Wear It Well” reuses a few of the tricks that “Maggie May” employed so well – the eavesdropped lyrics, addressed to an older lover; the doubled drumbeats that keep the track moving – and Martin Quittenton’s songs also share a soft, sunny prettiness that makes a great partner for Rod’s rough but warm vocals. It’s a pleasure to listen to this, but does it have the emotional kick of “Maggie”?
Unlike its predecessor, there’s a chorus of sorts, or at least the progressively more joyful phrasings of “you wear it well” work that way, as staging posts in Rod’s realisation that he’s still in love with his ex. “Maggie May” was a snapshot of a decision being made, too, but somehow this one isn’t quite as convincing. Maybe it’s just that the scene for “Maggie” – early morning, kick the blankets off, realise it’s time to MOVE ON – was set so quickly and well, or maybe it’s just that “You Wear It Well” is a little too clever to convince: Rod’s writing a song during a break (on tour?), and falls in love along the way. “Wrote that lyric without even trying” is a great line but it throws me out of the song a little, makes me think, oh really? And shouldn’t that “I love ya I love ya I love ya” on the coda be a bit more fiery and less comfortable?
Maybe it’s unfair to compare the songs at all – on its own merits this is a fine and friendly track stuffed with good lines, and even if I can see through Rod he’s so charismatic that I want to be charmed anyway. But I can’t hear it without hearing the earlier, more iconic hit reducing it to echo.