Song Saturday: Radar Love
“I’ve been drivin’ all night, my hands wet on the wheel…There’s a voice in my head that drives my heel…
Submitted for your approval, returning to my Samsung playlist, I present Radar Love by Golden Earring, a Dutch hard-rock/progressive rock band. I can’t imagine that anyone out there hasn’t heard this song at least once. Founded in 1961 in The Hague, Netherlands, most of their extensive material didn’t even chart in the US. In the 60 years of their existence, they made 25 studio albums, eight live albums, two compilation albums and an impressive 74 singles. Originally named The Tornadoes…
Golden Earring was formed in 1961 in The Hague by 13-year-old George Kooymans and his 15-year-old neighbour, Rinus Gerritsen. Originally called The Tornados, the name was changed to Golden Earrings, when they discovered that The Tornados was already in use by another group.
They [achieved] their first success in 1965 with “Please Go,” as a pop rock band with Frans Krassenburg as lead singer. By 1969, the rest of the lineup had stabilized, with lead vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Barry Hay and drummer Cesar Zuiderwijk. By ’71, they [were] a regular presence on Dutch charts and [were] starting to climb up the ladder in Germany. They [signed] on to the Who’s Track label, which released a compilation of Dutch singles, Hearing Earring, helping the group break through in England.
The young group initially baptizes itself as The Tornadoes but, when that name turns out to have already been claimed by another band, they switch to The Golden Earrings – loosely based on a song by the British band The Hunters.
While most Dutch pop bands from the sixties stumble over the threshold to the seventies, the Golden Earring – as the band has come to call itself – emerges from the decade strong and confident.
In 1973, Golden Earring aspires to make an album that is of international allure both artistically and commercially. A lot of time is put into writing and recording what will eventually become Moontan. The mission succeeds brilliantly. Candy’s Going Bad, Radar Love, Just Like Vince Taylor and The Vanilla Queen are among the best the band has written to date.
Both Moontan’s first single Radar Love are a resounding success. First in the Netherlands, then in the rest of Europe and finally in America – where the album was released in 1974. Radar Love even becomes a big hit, with a 13th place as the highest listing. In the following years, however, the song will mainly grow into one of the ultimate car songs, which can still be heard daily on American radio stations. Radar Love has been covered by hundreds of international acts over the decades, including U2, White Lion, Ministry and Def Leppard. Both the single and the album are an undisputed milestone in Dutch pop history.
Golden Earring Biography Page (Google will have to translate.)
It’s not really normal for a band eight albums into their career to suddenly enjoy a worldwide breakout. And, for it to happen with a track over six minutes long with elongated instrumental passages and a somewhat mysterious narrative is even stranger. “…the song most likely to inspire a speeding ticket some 47 years after it was first released.” Barry Hay, the group’s lead singer and lyricist, explained in a recent interview with American Songwriter that a record company push gave then some hope.
“We signed up with Track records, the label of The Who,” Hay says. “And, they really put an effort into it, because they had a sort of monkey wrench. If they could put us together on tour in Europe, they could put us together in Madison Square Garden. So, [we’re] sort of the sons of the Who.”
“At first, the opening line was ‘I’m sitting in a bathtub.’ And, I thought, ‘That’s hardly masculine.’ Then, I came up with sitting in a car.”
“…Hay managed to come up with effortless couplets […] while tying them together in a resonant story of a mystical connection between two separated lovers. […] I remember, in those days, I was really interested in ESP. I read some shit about it. […] Like there’s an accident but, these people still have ESP, they still have contact in a way. Which is sort of a magical thing…
It also inspired a million interpretations but, Hay says that the tragic one is correct. “The guy actually dies,” he says of the song’s narrator. “That’s the gist of the whole thing. In a way, she still has contact with him. There is an afterlife.”
Behind The Song: Radar Love
Jim Beviglia (Written three years ago)
Unfortunately, Golden Earring is no more:
Golden Earring Co-Founder George Kooymans Retires After ALS Diagnosis
The Band Calls It Quits ~Vic
♦ The Virgin Encyclopedia of Heavy Rock (Colin Larkin/1999/Internet Archive/Pages 187-188/Sign-In Required)
♦ It’s Prog Jim, But Not As We Know It: Golden Earring (Louder Sound/Prog/Malcolm Dome/10-28-2014)