The Beat Goes On/Switching to Glide, by The Kings

I was at a conference in Las Vegas, and one of our evening events was to see a show on the strip. We saw Clint Holmes. You are forgiven if you have never heard of Clint Holmes. Walking into the theater, I certainly did not know who he was.

He had a great band with him that night, and he put on a great show. As it turns out, Holmes had a hit in 1972 with a song called “Playground in My Mind.” You may remember the chorus:

“My name is Michael, I’ve got a nickel, I’ve got a nickel shiny and new
I’m gonna buy me all kinds of candy, that’s what I’m gonna do.”

The song is kind of an ear worm, and it is the only hit Clint Holmes ever had. During the concert, he talked about how he used to feel bad that he would always be known as a one-hit wonder, but then he realized aloud to the audience, “well…it’s one more hit than you’ve had!” Good point.

Where would rock and roll be without one-hit wonders? The bands and artists that touched glory only once with a hit song, only to fall into the forgotten cutout bin of history. The Knack (“My Sharona”), Dexy’s Midnight Runners (“Come on Eileen”) and ? and the Mysterians (“96 Tears”) to name just a few.

We all love The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and The E Street Band, but it’s the one-hit wonders that serve as the connective tissue between all these major artists. We love their music. We sing their songs. We never hear from them again.

“This Beat Goes On/Switching to Glide” was an audacious masterpiece released in 1980 by The Kings, from Toronto. I was only 14 years old, but I remember being awed by these two masterful rock songs that were released as a single with all the characteristics of a classic rock song.

Beginning with a great, crunchy guitar riff, the bass drum comes in soon followed by the delicious Hammond B-3 organ. The song is about a girl, but I confess. I never could understand the words, and reading the lyrics now, I think that’s just fine.

“Hey Judy, Get Trudy
You said to call you up
If I was feeling moody
Hey Little Donna
Aw, still wanna
You said to ring you up
When I was in Toronto”

All the hallmarks of a great rock and roll song are here. Meaningless lyrics with great music. We find ourselves singing along, pumping our fists, making up meaningless sounds to match the words we think we are hearing.

And then, something completely unexpected happens. At just over three minutes into the song, one song ends and another begins. We are transitioned from “This Beat Goes On” to “Switching to Glide” with one of the great lyrics in all of rock and roll history.

“Nothing matters but the weekend
from a Tuesday point of view.”

I mean seriously, does it get much better than this? The song is perfectly arranged and produced, and it should come as no surprise to learn the song was produced by Bob Ezrin, one of the great rock producers of all time, who worked with everyone from Lou Reed, to David Bowie, Pink Floyd, Peter Gabriel, Phish and more.

“Switching to Glide” serves as more of a coda then a complete part II of this song, but the model this song follows is in the great tradition of “Carry that Weight/The End” by The Beatles and “Love Lies Bleeding/Funeral for a Friend” by Elton John. A precursor to “Sweet Child O’ Mine/Where do We Go” by Guns n’ Roses in the 1990’s.

As is the case with so many other bands, the Kings went almost as quickly as they arrived, but somehow they managed to eke out a career from year to year. They did not enjoy any more hits, and their line up changed often, but they had that hit. They provided me with something when I was 14 that I carry with me to this day, almost 40 years later.

The Kings. They had a hit. One more hit than I’ve ever had.

“This Beat Goes On/Switching to Glide”
Written and Performed by The Kings
Released 1980

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