You say that Air Supply is sappy like that’s a bad thing.
What do you mean you don’t have it?
Air Supply has sold 30 million records. The band has eight greatest hits albums. (That’s how great its greatest hits are.) And you’re trying to tell me you don’t have one?
Not even a single? A 45? You’ve never downloaded “The One That You Love” late at night, after three glasses of Paisano?
Well, I don’t believe you. I think you’re embarrassed. I think you’re stuck in that “Air Supply is sappy and lame and the-musical-equivalent-of-Jell-O-instant-pudding” headspace.
Get over it. That’s so 1989. I say it’s time to stop making jokes about Air Supply and start giving the band the respect it’s due.
Do you have your Greatest Hits ready? Okay, let’s start with something gentle — “Lost in Love.”
Yes, Air Supply is sappy. And yes, it’s hard to keep Air Supply song titles straight, even if you’re a fan, because they all have the word “love” in them.
And okay, yes, the album covers, the hot air balloons, the hearts and rainbows … All really, extremely sappy.
But … why does sappy have to be a liability? Isn’t sap the most precious part of something? Isn’t sap sweetness and life and the only reason that pancakes are delicious?
I love Air Supply because it’s sappy.
That’s right, I said it. Loud and proud. I love Air Supply. I always have.
Skip ahead now to “Even the Nights are Better.”
In 1982, you couldn’t turn on the radio without hearing an Air Supply song. Which was a problem for me because I wasn’t allowed to turn on the radio. My mom had laid down a complete ban on pop music.
It was the smut that did it. Blondie. Olivia Newton-John. Juice Newton.
My mom said everything in the Top 40 was filth. If I tried to watch “Solid Gold” or “American Bandstand,” she’d say, “Would we be watching this if Jesus was here?” (You can’t argue with WWJD. Ever. President Obama should try using it.)
The first time I remember hearing a song, I was at a friend’s house. We heard the end of “The One That You Love” — not even the whole song — and I was immediately transfixed.
“The One That You Love.” Hit it.
I’d never heard such a romantic song in my whole life. (All eight years of it.) Such drama, such yearning. The begging … The high notes …
Did I understand what Russell Hitchcock was pleading for in that painfully soaring tenor? No, I did not. But I liked his afro, and I wanted to hear him out.
I recognized even then that these guys were tapping into something pure. Call it sap if you want; for me, it was sincerity. Truth.
For the next three years — not exaggerating — I was on Air Supply high alert. If you asked what my favorite band was, I’d say “Air Supply.” I used to draw pictures of myself wearing a raglan-sleeved T-shirt with a hot air balloon and “Air Supply” written on the front. Did I own such a shirt? Uh, in my dreams.
That’s your cue — “Sweet Dreams.” Ride the skies.
When I did hear an Air Supply song, at the grocery store or the swimming pool or in my dad’s car — I can remember all these occasions clearly — it felt like magic. Like a present from God. (An ironic present, given the circumstances.) Like the song was falling out of the sky.
Okay, time for the big finish — “All Out of Love.”
I have another confession. I’ve never actually bought an Air Supply album.
I’ve looked at their greatest hits CDs a hundred times, and I’ve watched their videos on YouTube. But always I feel like, if I buy an album, I’ll lose the magic.
When I hear an Air Supply song on the radio now, I still feel like it’s playing just for me.
It’s like I just got an on-air dedication from 1982 — and the universe still wants me to hear one of my favorite songs.
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