A song that always struck me as unusually pretty and well-constructed, with the endearingly old-fashioned touch of a distinct musical introduction, the way they used to do it, which repeats at the close to wrap it all up in a tidy bow – you know how I love a song that ends with elegance. I first heard it playing over the PA in a movie theatre, before the lights went down, and loved it immediately. It’s all about unrequited love, a theme that always resonates, the germ of which was planted when Jones was in San Francisco on some sort of promotional junket with a local record company executive, and was immediately taken with how beautiful all the women seemed to be. The executive gave him the old saw about the difference between looking at the menu and getting to eat, which Jones, apparently, hadn’t heard before. Thus supplied with the first line, he wrote a set of lyrics about mansions where you’re not able to live, races you aren’t allowed to win, summits you can see but never reach, pools in which you can’t take a swim, and so on; it was as if the young pop star actually understood something about rejection, which couldn’t have been the case, but he faked it pretty darned well.
The chowderheads at the record company said it’d never be a hit. Maybe a B-Side, they told him. Thirty-five years later, and it’s still raking in the royalties, and people are still recording cover versions. They probably told him to stop trying to be George F’ing Gershwin and come back with something that sounded more like Duran Duran. Girls on Film, now there’s a tune, they probably told him.