Our Top 10 Songs from The Call takes a look at band that was formed under the sunny skies of Santa Cruz, California in 1980. The band would get their first big break when one of their songs was released in the motion picture The Lost Boys. Filmed on the boardwalk of Santa Cruz, the campy, highly successful, werewolves flick placed the song ‘I Still Believe’ by The Call in a key scene in the movie. Interestingly, the saxophone part from the song was played shirtless by the Adonis-type saxophonist from Tina Turner’s band to make the song more memorable.
During the 1980’s, as other bands made tremendous leaps to glory, The Call fought tooth and nail to get out of college radio status. They made it, but not as some of their contemporaries. They were praised often by U2, Simple Minds and Peter Gabriel for carrying the rock mantle forward.
Michael Been, who died young at the age of 60 from a heart attack, was the front man, singer, and songwriter for the band. He wrote songs with tremendous soul and was not afraid to take on serious topics. Many of The Call’s songs are political.
When The Call added a keyboardist to their guitars and percussion, they soon achieved their first mainstream hit, ‘The Walls Came Down.’ There were some other hits to follow. They were able to play the blues, but knew how to stretch themselves with upbeat riffs and melodies.
The Call will probably be forever known as the underrated type. They did ballads, but with most of their songs, from the first note, you can sense it is rock at its basics and roll at its core.
# 10 – Turn a Blind Eye
It is Michael Been’s lyrics that sometimes grab the most attention. “To the desperate young, turn a blind eye; To the old and lonely, turn a blind eye” and later he writes…”I don’t want to get involved. It’s not my problem. I’ll just ignore it. I don’t want to feel this.” This is The Call at the earlier stages of their career, from the album Modern Romans. The title of the album kind of gives a clue as to how Michael Been was feeling towards the writing of the songs. He is speaking directly to the decadence and inhumanity he was seeing around him during the 80’s.
# 9 – Even Now
From the 1986 album, Reconciled, ‘Even Now’ shows how The Call could combine lyrics, beats, guitar chord changes, a guitar solo and a good melody to make a simple song that takes us on an interesting journey of music. The most impressive aspect of ‘Even Now’ is how it is not being forced on us, it’s more of an invitation to a sound and style.
# 8 – What’s Happened to You
This was the last mainstream hit from the band from the 1990 album, Red Moon. The song seems reminiscent of a band coming to terms with their fleeting flame and the battle for their art form. It is a beautiful song that we might hear in church. There is a dominating chorus of “La la la, lada la, la.” The Call was not afraid to get spiritual with their music. This song shows their strength with being comfortable with who they were, and to make music that appeals to the many.
# 7 – Oklahoma
Michael Been and another member of the band, drummer, Scott Musick, were originally from Oklahoma. They must have been familiar with tornados, as a tornado takes central stage in the song as a metaphor for feelings. The song from Reconciled made it to the final 10 to be voted on for the official state song of Oklahoma. The beginning lyric, “Another hot Oklahoma night” takes the song right into a weather trip of emotions.
# 6 – You Run
From the album Let the Day Begin, “You Run” is a beautiful song that accentuates how good Michael Been was as a singer. He wasn’t afraid to be use his voice as an extension of how he was as a regular guy. He was a musician first, and when his time with The Call was finished, he continued to work as a producer for his son’s band, The Black Rebel Motorcycle Club.
# 5 – Everywhere I Go
Right from the beginning of the song, you can tell this song is catchy. ‘Everywhere I Go’ from Reconciled has a symbiotic beat and the guys really back up Been with their hearts and voices in the chorus. The song just keeps moving, until the guys come back around, and then Been shouts his passions and times the guitar licks. This song clearly shows how the band knew how to make good music. Been is whispering his lyrics, and building us back up again with his shouts that match the beats.
# 4 – I Still Believe
The featured song from The Lost Boys 80’s movie, also from Reconciled, is strong and forceful. The Call is highlighting the art form of music enhanced by slow, steady, then fast, faster, and a keyboard riff. The repeat of slow to fast, so melodic, with such distinctive lyrics gives us purpose for listening. We are getting the message slow and hard. And, Michael Been keeps singing elegantly. The beat stays alive accompanied by the howls of Michael and a keyboard fix. “For people like us, in places like this, we need all the hope that we can get. I still believe.”
# 3 – I Don’t Wanna
With a keyboard entry like few other songs, Been gives us his take on how he sees things. We understand his feelings because he shakes us so hard with his guitar. This was their only mainstream hit from the Into the Woods album of 1987. This song rocks hard, and gets to very high notes on the guitars and keyboard. The lyrics match the intensity of the song, and so does Michael Been’s voice.
# 2- The Walls Came Down
This was The Call’s first big hit. It’s from the Modern Romans album. They had made progress as a band to their second album without losing any of their intensity for giving their opinions on hot-button political issues. ‘War Weary World’ was the very first song from their self-titled debut album, and ’The Walls Came Down’ picks up right away where they left off. The ending chorus is the perfectly unisoned “nah nah nah nah yah ya.” It is a prognostication for what was to come in 1989 in Germany.
# 1 – Let the Day Begin
The Call’s only number one song from their same titled Let the Day Begin of 1989 shows the band’s optimism in a similar vein to ‘I Still Believe.’ It was so much a source of inspiration that it was chosen as Al Gore’s theme song as he traversed the country to try and win the presidential election of 2000. The pacing of the song stays throughout. It is a tribute song that rocks with steadiness and reassurance. The band stayed true to who they were throughout their career. They were realists in how they saw things and optimists at times in their attempts to message their music to their fans.
Top 10 Songs From The Call article published on Classic RockHistory.com© 2021
Classicrockhistory.com claims ownership of all its original content and Intellectual property under United States Copyright laws and those of all other foreign countries. No one person, business or any organizations is allowed to re-publish any of our original content anywhere on the web or in print without our permission. All photos used are either public domain creative commons photos or licensed officially from Shutterstock under license with ClassicRockHistory.com. All photo credits have been placed at end of article.