Song of the Day, May 26: No Blue Skies by Lloyd Cole

Today’s song is a throwaway moment that resulted in a gem. After three solid albums with the Commotions, Lloyd Cole broke up the band and moved to New York. After settling in to his new environs and meeting a number of sympathetic musicians — including guitarist Robert Quine — he recorded his first solo album. His label, Polydor, insisted that the disc as delivered lacked a single, so he quickly put together one last song.

Cole says that he wrote the song in “about fifteen minutes” and that Quine came up with a distinctive guitar line as soon as he heard the song. Even the vocal came quickly; the final version of the song features the first vocal Cole laid down, intended as a scratch vocal. He had planned to write a third verse, but his collaborators convinced him that he’d nailed the vocal and the song was perfect as is. They were right.

In many ways a classic Cole track, it features his wry wit, leavening his somewhat dark stories. “You want to leave me, baby, be my guest. All I’m gonna do is cry.” opens the song. It has a slightly country feel, expanding his musical palette and fitting well with the theme of abandonment. Then he skewers his former love in a perfect Cole chorus.

Baby you’re too well read
Baby you’re too well spoken
Baby you’re too pristine
When I cry, do you feel anything?

While the quick effort may not have given Polydor the chart smash they were hoping for, it did result in one of Cole’s most aching, memorable songs.

Enjoy this beautiful song today.

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