My Top 1000 Songs #538: Never Say Never

[I've been writing up my Top 1000 songs on a daily basis--you can see them all in descending order by hitting the All My Favorite Songs tag.]

I'm not exactly sure when I first heard Romeo Void's "Never Say Never," a 1981/1982 single from the San Francisco band. It was probably a high school party, or maybe one of those late-night cable video programs, as it didn't get much mainstream radio attention back in Chicago. But it made a lasting impression, that funky post-punk new wave angular groove, scratchy insistent guitars, sounding nothing like anything else out there. You had the saxophone skronk, not exactly a mainstay of music at the time, and most of all Debora Iyall's withering deadpan delivery. "I might like you better if we slept together, but there's something in your eyes that says maybe that's never. Never say never."

I was excited when I got to college and found I was not the only one who'd come across this scandalous gem, always finding an excuse to spin it up on my radio show (though stuck with the version that bleeped out the line "that man could give a fuck about the grin on your face").

It's certainly a song of its era, the sort of movie-ready needle-drop that magically conjures the early 80s, but it's still absolutely unique (and the rest of 1982's Benefactor album holds up surprisingly well, somewhere between Gang of Four and the Waitresses, definitely worth dusting off if you have it around). On the shortlist of songs that I can play and immediately feel like a 16-year-old kid again, hearing something risqué and maybe just a little dangerous and wishing I were just a little bit older.

Live on tv 1984: