For the love of rock
Vol III, Issue 18 – Tenderness (15 Sept 2018)
Name of song– Tenderness
Band – Steppenwolf
Album- For Ladies Only
Writer– Mars Bonfire
Release year– 1971
Reviewers- Bikash Shrestha/Nirab Kayastha
“Steppenwolf” is a household name in a hard core rocker’s house. Formed as a Canadian-American rock band in 1967 by John Kay (Vocals), Michael Monarch (Guitars), Rushton Moreve (Bass), Goldy McJohn (Keyboards) and Jerry Edmonton (Drums), they ruled the rock world between their heydays from 1968 to 1972. With various line up changes, they are still going strong. They are the band which created worldwide success with the song “Born to be wild.” This song was released in 1968 and used in the movie “Easy Rider” in 1969 and has always been associated with bikers and prototype counter culture. Their other notable contributions include “Magic carpet ride”, “The pusher”, “Rock me”, “Sookie sookie” etc. They had numerous hit singles but they shall always be remembered as the band which created the first heavy metal song “Born to be wild” (Not in musical style but in description).
“Tenderness” is a song taken from their sixth album “For Ladies Only” released in 1971. This album is their political concept album with some inclination towards progressive rock genre, popular during that time. The album was not their best one, but it did have themes about feminism and romance, which was not typical of “Steppenwolf.” Among the notable numbers in the album, “Tenderness” is one which deserves the honor.
The song is a romantic ballad, very atypical for “Steppenwolf.” It describes a tale of a man who is always casual about love and has been mistaking lust for love. Despite a true lover’s warning, he is blinded and pursues with his nonchalant attitude. Finally, time makes him realize what love true love is and he wants to come back to love which he had disowned. Beautifully penned by Mars Bonfire (Who had also penned “Born to be wild”), this romantic ballad typically depicts what most of us go through.
The song starts with nice, mellow acoustic guitar, with harmonious keyboards by Goldy McJohn. Soon, John Kay’s vocals start to narrate the story along with George Biondo’s bass. The song flows smoothly with the story as well as the music. Drums come into play only during the main chorus after the second verse. The hiatus in- between the verses is filled by the melodious keyboards instead of a lead guitar solo. Slowly the song ends after the repeat chorus and background harmonious keyboards. With pretty straight forwards lyrics, the romantic song successfully touches the listener with graceful music and John Kay’s soulful voice.
Undoubtedly, “Born to be wild” is the song which shall always be associated with “Steppenwolf”, but it would be unjust to shadow their other creations. “Tenderness” is one of their songs which is a tender number played so tenderly and should be considered one of their best ballads ever!
Resources– Wikipedia.org, Allmusic.com
She tried to show me how to love
I bit her lips and bruised her arms
No I hadn’t learned tenderness
She asked, “what does love mean to you?”
I grabbed her hair and pulled her down
I looked in her eyes and I laughed
The love I feel is hard and fast
It’s for a face and for one night
I don’t need to own anyone
She said; she said all your women, burn in your flame
But as it dies, as it dies, they’ll leave you and seek revenge
She laughed and said “You’ll go thru hell
You’ll live in lonely rooms unknown
And watch for my lost tenderness”
I went from her to someone else and someone else
Hmmm……no, I couldn’t be satisfied
She said; she said all your women burn in your flame
And as it dies, as it dies, they’ll leave you and seek revenge
I wish that I could find her now
My love is soft, my love is warm
I’d take her to bed tenderly
Oh yes I’d take her to bed tenderly
Lyrics link- https://genius.com/Steppenwolf-tenderness-lyrics
Video link – https://youtu.be/-Da6NtYbkt4