• Jeff South

10 No-Skip Albums: Breakfast in America

What is a No-Skip Album? Think of any album you listen to that has zero skippable tracks. Sometimes when I'm listening, I'll pass by songs that don't do it for me, even though I love the others. Even my favorite artists have albums that have a song or two that I shrug at and skip. I'm going to share 10 albums, one at a time, over the course of the month, that I believe have zero skippable tracks. The goal is to share music I enjoy with my friends and readers and also to unleash the righteous fury of the internet.


The rules:

1. No greatest hits collections.

2. No live albums (which would unfortunately disqualify Johnny Cash's Live From Folsom Prison).

3. No motion picture soundtracks (which would disqualify Footloose and Saturday Night Fever).

4. No scrubs (TLC wouldn't approve).


My first choice is Supertramp's 1979 release Breakfast in America.


I was 11 years old when Breakfast in America was released. I only knew of "The Logical Song," "Goodbye Stranger," and "Take The Long Way Home" because they were the hits. The title track didn't come into my consciousness until I got to college in 1985 and our campus radio station played it. I didn't much appreciate the album as a whole, though, until years later when I listened to it alone with headphones on. I used to think of Breakfast In America as just a collection of catchy pop/rock tunes with terrific hooks and cool vocals. As I listened intently, I discovered all the themes of lost innocence, unfulfilled expectations, loneliness, and cynicism. I assumed that the album was a satirical critique of America, but the band says that isn't so. I'm not one to tell a band what their songs are about. I'm more of a 'here's-how-it-impacted-me' listener.


The other day as I prepped for this post I gave Breakfast In America another listen through my 2019 lens and its darkness struck a nerve. Division is the rule of order. "Take the Long Way Home" remains one of my all-time favorite songs and those lyrics about missed opportunities, lost dreams, and lowered expectations got to me. "The Logical Song" resonated with lyrics like "watch what you say or they'll be calling you a radical, a liberal, oh fanatical, criminal." I've experienced significant cognitive dissonace around matters of faith and spirituality, especially my Christianity, the last few years and "The Logical Song," which is one of the great ruminations on yearning for lost innocence, touched that part of my soul that hurts when I think about where I am with my fragile faith.


And it is that place that was rocked to its core by "Lord Is It Mine," a soft ballad that serves as an earnest prayer for peace in tumultuous times, both personal and globally. One lyric gave me pause:


I never cease to wonder at the cruelty of this land But it seems a time of sadness is a time to understand Is it mine? Oh Lord is it mine?


I'm tempted to dig deep into that, but I'll just let it speak to you in a way that works for you. I recommend finding the lyrics online and following along as you listen.


I guess it's fair to say that my revisit of Breakfast In America became a bit revelatory. What was once an album of pop songs I enjoyed has become something that touched me and moved me.


And not a bad song on the entire thing.




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