By Jeremy Essig
By Jason Robinson
By Hans Morgenstern
By Joseph Hess
By Peter Gilstrap
By Julia Burch
By Jeremy Essig
By Nathan Smith
Of course, this was a period of considerable turbulence and societal change in the United States, especially with regard to sex and gender roles. To a certain extent, you can see how the battle of the sexes was waged through the era's adult-contemporary hits. Helen Reddy declared "I Am Woman"; Bread's David Gates meekly asked if he could "Make It With You." Carole King: "One of us is changing, or maybe we just stopped trying, and it's too late." Paul Davis: "Just let me hold you by the firelight. If it don't feel right, you can go."
"There was really no emotional middle ground in Mellow Gold," Hare says. "You needed the ability to cry over a broken shoelace. Ambivalence was not an option. Every emotion was passionate, even if all you were talking about was how you had no idea what the hell was happening around you, like in Ace's 'How Long.'"
Ultimately, Hare prefers not to use the term "yacht rock." "From a pop-culture standpoint, the only thing that differentiates yacht rock from mellow Gold is that hipsters weren't involved in mellow Gold. The music is the same; the interpretation is different. Yacht-rock lovers listen ironically; mellow Gold lovers listened to it even when they knew it would get them beaten up. I think mellow Gold needs to be a just-right combination of wimpy music and wimpy words. A lot of the music involved with yacht rock has the right sound but not the right lyrical content.
"This music preceded disco and endured into the early 1980s," Hare adds. "Punk didn't kill it, which is amazing when you think about it."
For Coley, there's been just enough renewed interest in his brand of music that he's noticed a younger crowd. He's even spotted a few sailors' hats. But, he makes clear, just performing to appreciative crowds is enough. He related a story about a previous tour, where one of the fellow acts demanded to headline. "I said, 'Wait a minute. You're calling me up to ask if I would open the show because someone else is demanding to close it? Don't ever call me like that again. Just put me on the show. I just like to play. I don't care where.'"