By Jeremy Essig
Over 30 years ago, Bryan Adams released the musical equivalent to a relationship Swiss Army knife.
Reckless, Adams' multi-platinum 1984 release, contains all the tools necessary to navigate whatever place one finds oneself through the course of a relationship -- a blade to stab an ex-lover or a ruler to measure the depth of commitment. Clocking in at fewer than 40 minutes, Adams manages to hits all the relationship fence posts within the album, from the unplanned bar hookup to finally regaining your confidence after a nasty breakup.
Or, in other words, Reckless is the one album to have on a deserted island if you happen to fall in love and break up with someone on that island (while also cheating with a third person on said island).
In anticipation of Adams' Reckless Anniversary Tour, hitting the Fox Theatre this Wednesday, April 15, we present to you a track-by-track breakdown of the album's many uses.
1. "One Night Love Affair"
Recommended Usage: When you're using a stranger's toothbrush but you're afraid to ask for their number.
Much like many relationships, Reckless begins with what was intended to be a one-night stand. But where Carole King wondered if the night in question was a fleeting moment on "Will You Love Me Tomorrow," Adams goes into the night accepting the situation for what it is.
During the course of the fling, however, Adams begins developing feelings for his partner and worries that he's letting on that he wants more than a fun evening with no strings attached. A tale as old as time.
2. "She's Only Happy When She's Dancin'"
Recommended Usage: Relationship? Who needs a relationship?
There's an old adage that the best way to find a relationship is to stop looking. While this may run contrary to the belief of Match.com founder Neil Clark Warren, sometimes the best way to fight the fear of spending your life alone is to embrace the single lifestyle and set the town on fire.
With Reckless' second track, Adams tells the tale of a girl hunting through town for one thing -- her own happiness. "She ain't got much, but she's got independence. Yeah, she's doing alright," he sings during the bridge -- an anthemic call for anyone comfortable on their own in a paired-off world.
3. "Run to You"
Recommended Usage: Deleting illicit text messages.
Hey everyone, Bryan Adams is a dick! Well, maybe not Adams himself, but certainly the person from whose perspective he is singing this track. For all the songs written about being cheated on, Adams turns the table by providing a tune for those perpetuating the infidelity.
As the narrator of the illicit affair, Adams seems conflicted -- describing his partner in the steady relationship as having both a "cold" love and, conversely, a "true" love. For anyone leaving a forbidden romance on the way back to the one you're promised, "Run to You" is the perfect soundtrack for getting your story straight.
Recommended Usage: Being committed and happy in a way that makes your friends sick.
Though it's not an official question on their census, one would have to imagine "Heaven" would rank No. 1 on a list of "songs to which Canadians in their early thirties were conceived."
In what is the most interesting piece of sequencing on Reckless, Adams follows up his ode to infidelity with the album's most honest love song. If you find yourself in that magic place in a relationship -- the point where all defenses have been broken down, but before a "Run to You" situation reminds you why those defenses existed in the first place -- enjoy the bliss provided by the unofficial Canadian national anthem of love.
Recommended Usage: Looking for Mr. or Mrs. Tonight.
When just off a bad breakup or looking to quench a relationship dry spell, most people have had those evenings where who you go home with is less important than the act of going home with someone itself.
With "Somebody," Adams explores the time between the single, carefree evening that was planned in "She's Only Happy When She's Dancin'" and before the awkward morning set forth in "One Night Love Affair" -- that period in between the third and fourth whiskey and soda, where the conversation with a stranger is flowing, the neon highlights their hair in just the right manner and the possibility of future unwelcome text messages remains unfactored.
Continue to page two for more.
6. "Summer of '69'"
Recommended Usage: Wistfully Facebook stalking an ex.
For all the negativity that seems to surround past relationships -- the painful memories of broken promises and possible "Run to You" type situations -- there are some we flash back to with fondness. Sure, it didn't work out, but the reasons had more to do with age and circumstance rather than two people wearing each other down to the point of bitterness.
With "Summer of 69'," possibly Reckless' best-known track, Adams provides a song for anyone looking back at a relationship and remembering the excitement and exploration of young love. And, yes, although co-writer Jim Vallance disputes it, Adams admitted in 2008 that the number represents exactly what you think it represents.
7. "Kids Wanna Rock"
Recommended Usage: Fixing yourself another drink while listening to this album.
Much like the hook in a Swiss Army knife, "Kids Wanna Rock" is big, shiny and doesn't have a whole lot of usage compared to the other tools in the package. An exception that proves the rule, this song -- while full of pop and energy -- strays from the relationship narrative of the rest of the album.
8. "It's Only Love"
Recommended Usage: Searching Craigslist for a post-breakup apartment.
Much like the stomachache that indicates psychedelic mushrooms are about to kick in, every doomed affair has a moment when the pain of heartache begins to seep in, just before the relationship has come to its conclusion -- an indicator that finality is around the corner, though not yet present.
Accompanied by Tina Turner, a woman who knows a thing or two about relationships gone sour, Adams explores the period wherein love has gone past its breaking point. But don't worry, the lyrics reassure, "it's only love, and that's all."
9. "Long Gone"
Recommended Usage: Shopping for new towels after losing the old ones in a breakup.
It follows that if you are to give yourself to person, be it in a marriage or a long-term relationship, your material possessions will soon coalesce. With a divorce rate of 50 percent, however, it also follows that half of the time a person will find themselves replacing a lot of their stuff along with the divot in their heart.
In "Long Gone," Adams writes from the perspective of a person left with little but the clothes on his back. Sure, she took the house and the car, he sings, but she also took herself -- leaving the possessionless Adams a "happy boy."
10. "Ain't Gonna Cry"
Recommended Usage: Delighting in an ex crawling back once you're over them.
Placed in a different order, the songs on Reckless could be the story of a single relationship -- from the accidental meeting of a guy looking for "Somebody" and a girl out "Dancin'." They overcome the awkward nature of their "One Night Love Affair" and find the bliss within each other described in "Heaven." Things turn sour, however, when one begins to cheat on the other in "Run to You," which begins the breakup process encompassed within the album's last three tracks.
If the end of a relationship is a "war to win," as Adams sings in "It's Only Love," then "Ain't Gonna Cry" shows the singer victorious. He's made peace with the breakup and now his ex has come crawling back, allowing Adams to both gloat and tell her exactly what she did wrong.
He, uh, also threatens to "rearrange [her] face." Don't do that.
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