Artist: Billy Squire
Album: Don’t Say No
Song: The Stroke
Ah… The Stroke by Billy Squire, what a song. Young, dumb and full of (well you know the rest) I was convinced that this song was a teenage boys anthem! A hard driving beat, killer guitar, firm and aggressive!!! “Yes Billy… Preach it!!! We are men!!! Raaaahhhh”. LOL But not so fast there grasshopper… it’s not what you think.
At a young age, Billy took piano lessons… and, well, pretty much hated them. He took lessons for 3 years and the third was only because his Grandfather bribed him! Like many artists he bounced from band to band; 1969 Magic Terry and the Universe, 1972 Kicks, 1976 Piper. Piper enjoyed some success they even opened for KISS in 1977 at Madison Square Garden. By 1980, Squire signed with Capital Records.
After his first album Tail of the Tape, he was introduced to producer Reinhold Mack, by Brian May of Queen. Together Mack and Squire put together Don’t Say No, which launched Squires big hits, In the Dark, My Kind of Lover and The Stroke.
The mire suggestion of the title can lead a person ( or a young, testosterone driven boy) to think what it has to do with… again you can connect the dots. However, this song is far from that. Squire said in a VH1 interview that song is an essay on the recording industry. How they use you and then toss you out the next day. Once you have this in mind you can simply read it in the lyrics.
Now everybody, have you heard, if you’re in the game (game is the music industry)
Then the stroke’s the word (playing the game)
Don’t take no rhythm, Don’t take no style
Gotta thirst for killin’, Grab your vial and (vial is for blood contract signing)
Put your right hand out, give a firm handshake (meeting/agreement/soul-selling)
Talk to me about that one big break (eager to do what they want)
Spread your ear pollution, both far and wide (this is what they want)
Keep your contributions by your side and (keep your own works to yourself, we own you now, here’s the plan/agenda)
Stroke me, stroke me
Could be a winner boy you move mighty well (checking him out to perform)
Stroke me, stroke me, stroke me, stroke me (doing good boy, keep going…)
You got your number down, stroke me, stroke me (we’ll contact you soon)
Say you’re a winner but babe, you’re just a sinner now (selling your soul)
Put your left foot out, keep it all in place
Work your way right into my face (they are always in your face, perhaps?)
First you try to bet me, you make my backbone slide (I think it’s “bed” not bet)
When you find you’ve bled me, slip on by, and (they got him, blood, he’s owned)
My, my read a little different now huh? LOL Surprisingly the record label did NOT want this song to even be produced, much less on the album or be successful. But it was and it he did and it is was!
The album Don’t Say No, spent 2 years on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and sold over 4 Millions copies. The song The Stroke went to #17, #3 on Top Tracks (Rock radio) and #2 in the UK.
BTW, that icon drum beat you hear? It’s actually a snare drum hit played backward, synchronized with a snare hit in the song. Cool, huh?