Everybody gather around and listen closely to a truly remarkable record from Marshall Crenshaw, who may be the greatest pure pop craftsman in the history of popular music. This record, ‘Field Day’, released in 1983, would prove to be near equal to Crenshaw’s previous self-titled debut released a year prior. Crenshaw is an absolute mastermind when it comes to crafting catchy songs. There is no pretension to his songs at all. His straightforward approach to songwriting is so precise that even the most cynical of listeners will find his tunes difficult to deny. To even put up a wall between yourself and these songs would be a mistake, considering the amount of joy you’d be missing out on.
Trying to pick out a few standout tracks from this record is a fool’s errand, because every single track is as equally great and memorable as the next, but I suppose you can’t blame a man for trying! The opening track, “Whenever You’re on My Mind”, is just pure pop bliss. After a long while of attempting to intellectualize why this song, and many of Crenshaw’s material in general, is so irresistible, it becomes clear that the reason is in its impeccable ability to conjure up nostalgia. Remember the days of sitting out with a few friends or a loved one in the beautiful days of spring or summer? Well, you will with a listen to this record. In fact, this record is so potent that you’ll become nostalgic for days you’ve never even experienced! Oh yes, that can be done. The music of Crenshaw is the greatest proof of this. One more thing that becomes clear on this record (as if it weren’t before), is that Crenshaw is a bit of a throwback to ’50s rockers like Buddy Holly. In an early-’80s musical climate that was primarily dominated by heavy metal and post-punk, Crenshaw sticks out like a sore thumb. Perhaps this is exactly why his material works so well. Songs like “Our Town”, “One Day With You”, and “One More Reason”, recall the days of Peggy Sue getting married all over again.
So, how exactly does one go about judging a record like this? A record that is in its very nature, perfect? Crenshaw junkie? Well, yes. Go on, then! Try to review this record and give it any less than a perfect score. If you’re anyone who has ever felt a touching emotional moment in your life, and have even the slightest interest in popular music, you simply can’t deny the gracefulness of this record. It’s a record for all of us and that is something that Crenshaw doesn’t try to hide. It’s his unflinchingly middle class, everyman persona that allows him to resonate so positively with his fans. Listening to this record, you get the sense that he is no different than you are and that’s precisely the point. No pretension. No putting on airs. Just pure, straight ahead rock n’ roll. A positive communal experience, in the best way imaginable.