Hey! Top 20! Look at us!
I completely missed Howard Jones in his time. Completely! It doesn’t make any sense. Like, very, very recently--I’m talking within the last seven years or so--Pete started talking about Howard Jones as if I should know who he is and I had no idea. Specifically we’d discussed “No One Is to Blame,” a song Pete thought everyone should/did know and though I’ve heard it hundreds of times since, It washed right over me in the 80s. It’s not as if Howard Jones was the slightest bit too dangerous or cool for my sensibilities. He’s classified as synth pop/new wave most frequently, but he’s at least adult contemporary adjacent. Never mind all that time I spent watching VH1 Nostalgia Programming in the late 90s and early 2000s. You’d think surely I would have stumbled up on him somewhere along the line, but no!
Since this introduction, I somehow and for some reason, I have become a rabid fan of one of his more modest hits, “Everlasting Love,” released a bit past his heyday. It’s going to take me this entire post to explain why I love this song so much. Musically, it’s a little cheesy. On its surface, it is on par with a lot of other pop songs of its day. It has a bit of a reggae-inspired back beat but the melody is very late-80s pop love song. It’s light and sweet, but it does have a couple of weird turns. I’ll repeat again, I’m an amateur admirer of music. Like Brian Eno (lol), I’m not a musician, but Pete did deconstruct this song musically for reasons I can’t disclose and if memory serves, he referred to Howard Jones as a “drooling maniac.” The weirdest turn is the bridge, where there’s this Carribean-inspired breakdown with bongo drums and everything and it’s almost embarrassing. The melody starts back up again and everything is ok, we’re safe.
Lyrically, it’s flatly basic. Almost insulting. Like, you can’t or shouldn’t try to have a real, lasting relationship with someone who thrills you in bed or is super good-looking. What’s wrong with having a cuddle in the back seat AS WELL as an interior smile, really? Regardless, it’s corny and sweet. “I need a friend and a lover divine?” “Wait for it, wait for it, give it some time?” Shit. I guess I’m just a big corn.
It is definitely a top-five music video for me. The motif is ancient Egyptian as it opens with a shot of a sarcophagus. It opens, and for a second you see a shot of a mummy, but then it switches to a shot of Howard Jones walking out of it, so I’m not sure what was intended here, but it’s charmingly clumsy.
Walking towards us, he gestures towards a portrait of Elizabeth Taylor as Cleopatra. Then, we switch shots to Howard Jones in a white-void room but this time instead of his nondescript shirt and pants, he’s wearing an insanely colorful suit jacket and matching shirt and tie. On goes shots of Howard Jones doing a variety of slightly off-kilter 80s video activities (e.g., standing next to a switched-on TV that has a fez on top?). Finally, at the 1:02 mark, we get going. It begins with a shot of two actors wrapped head-to-toe in gauze walking a dog in a park. They’re holding hands, one is much shorter than the other and you can see the definition of modestly-sized boobs and a slight broadening at the hip on the shorter mummy, which gives you the notion that they’re a man-woman couple. A couple of mummies.
At the risk of going on and on about this precious, precious music video, I’m going to take you through all of the adventures these mummies enjoy, in and around their resident city of London. Next, the mummies are in their kitchen. Lady Mummy is helping Guy Mummy get breakfast and tea in the morning, before they share a kiss good-bye. He takes his hat and umbrella and goes out to catch a car to go to work. Maybe? The next place we see Guy Mummy is in an old-fashioned clothing store where he tries on boxer shorts for some reason, while Lady Mummy browses a fabric shop. They meet up for lunch (and this is so cute), take a walk on one of London’s bridges across the Thames, buy theater tickets, get some flowers, play racquetball, get fucking ice cream for christ’s sake, and walk along the streets of London together in the evening. All the while, Howard Jones is in and out of scenes looking at them like they’re nuts, but the mummies are just going about their business, blissful in their own little world.
IN FACT, Pete and I love this video so much that for the reasons outlined here as well as others, we included a song called "Two Mummies" on Relaunch (released earlier this year in case you missed it) as a tribute to this video. I co-wrote it! Listen here:
I have posted about how I feel a personal connection to the Imperfect Misfits Who Are Perfect For Each Other trope and these mummies fit it in the sweetest way. Howard Jones and his wife Jan have been happily married since 1977 and he’s described in interviews his relationship with his wife only getting better and better with time. I remember I used to hear stuff like this from older couples and would doubt this is possible for all the reasons ageist people in their 20s think that life doesn’t get any better than it is in that moment. And it doesn’t always happen but as we mature, we have the potential to naturally become better partners. If you’re lucky (like I think I am), you get more empathetic and more honest, which from my perspective is the key to a strong relationship. Howard gets it and I get it.
I bet he lives a really nice life. He lives in southwest England in historic Somerset county, known for production of cheddar cheese and apple cider. He lives with his wife of 43 years and is happier than ever. He still tours, still makes music (having released an album in 2019), and is comfortable enough financially to have opened a vegan restaurant in the East Village in New York City (though it burned down [!] after a year). He came through DC in 2016 and played at a weird venue which for the benefit of out-of-towners, I’d like to briefly describe. It’s an Alexander Hamilton-themed restaurant with a moderately sized music venue in the basement. What’s more, he had our pals in Stronger Sex play a 45-minute opening set for him. The only problem is that WE WEREN’T THERE because it coincided with a west coast vacation we took to attend a wedding and see my family. Per Stronger Sex, Howard Jones is as affable and lovely as you’d assume.
Our other opportunity to see Howard Jones that fell through was in New York. I can’t for the life of me nail down this timeline, but the scheme was hatched during one of those alcohol-fueled late-night fantasy schemes where Pete, Josie, and Stephen S____ (KingFuckboi) of all fucking people decided that the following fall we’d get together and attend this insane 80s nostalgia show to take place on Long Island or in the Hamptons or some such insanery. It sounded like an amazing show, but would have been costly both in time and money, so I don’t think we ever brought it up again, but the next day, Josie busted out her Howard Jones shirt and would have sworn she wrote a blog about it. This post from October 2014 and I’m posting it because the HoJo shirt is pictured and the song plays a nice role in her story, but there’s no way this blog and that trip coincided, time-wise, so nvm. Anyway, Howard Jones will always remind me of Josie, and particularly “Things Can Only Get Better,” which is easily my second favorite Howard Jones song. I tried to find the shirt in my size because all of a sudden it is the only thing in the world I want right now and it doesn’t seem to exist anymore, but if you run across it, in an L, please buy it for me and I’ll reimburse you up to $50 for the purchase.