“The Breakup Song (They Don’t Write ‘Em)” by The Greg Kihn Band
(Words/Music: Greg Kihn and Steve Wright, Album: Rockihnroll, Sons of Beserkley Records 1981)
As the story goes, when Greg Kihn took an early version of this song to the band, he only had the first and third lines of each verse written and sang the “uh-uh-uh” part of lines two and four as filler and told them he’d write those lyrics later. However, the band thought the song worked perfectly fine as it was and that’s how they recorded it. Although, that could be an interesting anecdote and a bit of an urban legend which would not be beyond Greg Kihn’s unique sense of humor. Humor? Sure, just look at the album titles which feature plays on words on his name such as Kihnspiracy, Kihntagious, and Citizen Kihn. Also, his video for “Jeopardy” is anything but serious and helps reinforce his reputation as one of the more amusing personalities in music.
At the time, Kihn’s melodic pop was a welcome alternative to the new wave synthpop of the 80s as is related in the nostalgic sentiment in this song. Of course, now there are an entirely new group of people who feel they don’t write song like this anymore. And they’re right, for better or worse. Some will argue that music and art need to continue moving forward and experimenting lest they become stagnant and boring, while other argue that you shouldn’t fix what ain’t broken. Even when examining the careers of artists, both examples can be made. Artists like Miles Davis, David Bowie, and Madonna have led vital and relevant careers because they kept changing, while artists like AC/DC and The Ramones have made a career out of putting out albums which all sound essentially the same and are lauded for their consistency. And while I’m not sure which side is right, I do know that I prefer bands that take chances and attempt to expand their music. However, I also know that sometimes when this has happened, they went in directions that I was not happy with. And looking back on Greg Kihn’s career, one may wonder whether he felt that the “good old days” were gone, or whether he just posed this issue to inspire debate while he just sat back in amusement and watched.