Monday, June 22, 2009

Dan Seals and Cheryl Wheeler: Addicted

SONG Addicted

WRITTEN BY Cheryl Wheeler

PERFORMED BY Dan Seals, Cheryl Wheeler

APPEARS ON Cheryl's Cheryl Wheeler (1986), Dan's Rage On (1988)

For my maiden voyage on Just A Song I thought I'd talk about a song that involves two people whose careers I've followed for many years, and who I met, hung out with, sometimes even jammed with, back before they were as well-known as they are now. And also as a fond farewell to Dan Seals, who finally lost his struggle with lymphoma this past March.

I went to high school with Cheryl Wheeler back in the late '60s. We weren't friends, but we traveled with the same group of friends and we knew who the other was and sometimes spoke. She graduated a year ahead of me (class of '70). I remember Cheryl doing somewhat of a "set" in Clark and Betty Langrell's living room cum public meeting room by the fireplace, and I especially remember her doing a version of Donna Fargo's "Superman", an event that taught me that it was okay to like country music (back then we young folk tended to regard country as music for redneck bigots; people like Cheryl, the Dillard brothers, and Gram Parsons taught us better).

After high school we went our separate ways, and in the early '80s we started bumping into each other. I was living here in Newport, RI, and she was just up the road in Swansea, MA (folksinger Bill Harley lives up there, too). She opened for Noel "Paul" Stookey in a concert at the Church of the Patriots here on Spring St.; I'd gone not knowing that she was the opening act. I recognized her, and after the concert I went and reintroduced myself. We caught up on old mutual friends, and compared life journeys at that point. A few years later she happened to wander into the deli where I ate regularly, and we did some more conversing and catching up. I've seen her a couple of times more under similar circumstances, but as usual, life happens and I haven't seen her now for a good 15 to 20 years.

Dan Seals was a different story. He actually shared something with both Cheryl and I - we were all members of the Baha'i Faith. Cheryl left long ago, and I left some time later, but Dan was a Baha'i for the rest of his life. I met Dan at a time when he and John Coley had broken up their group (England Dan and John Ford Coley) and Dan was developing himself as a solo artist, going back to his roots in country music. He would often visit a Baha'i school/retreat in Eliot, Maine, and would play some nights on request during his visits. I was up there frequently as well during this time (again. early '80s), and as was my wont back in those days, where I went so went my guitar. We struck up conversations now and then, and jammed a little. My impression of Dan was that he was the gentlest man I'd ever been around, shy and softspoken and never willingly pushing himself into the spotlight. And as with Cheryl, our lives went in opposite directions; I think the last time I talked to Dan Seals was in 1982.

But I followed both of their careers, and was glad to see Cheryl able to make it on the singer/songwriter folk circuit, and to see Dan make it big in Nashville. I actually heard Dan do "Addicted" first, and learned from the liner notes that Cheryl had written the song, so of course i had to go find the album of Cheryl's that it was on. I don't know how Dan came across the song; if I recall correctly Cheryl had left the Baha'i Faith long before she wrote that song, so it wouldn't have been that particular network that connected them. But I have to admit that the song really seems to have been written just for him; it matches so well the tone and the content of the other songs in his repertoire, and especially the other songs on the Rage On album.

Cheryl says she wrote the song after a phone conversation with her sister, who was in the process of deciding whether to break up with her boyfriend or hang on and try to see if they could make it work; he'd been getting more and more distant, and the harder she worked to bridge the gap the more futile it seemed. So Cheryl put the essence of the conversation into this song. As much as the lyrics, I love the musical structure of "Addicted", especially the transition from verse to chorus, and back to verse. It almost sounds like a key change, but it's not, just a very artistic use of the chord structure to create a dramatic moment. This is songwriting at its best!

She says she hates to sleep alone but she'll do it tonight
She wants to grab her telephone but she knows it ain't right
So if he won't call she'll survive
And if he don't care she'll get by
Climb into bed bury her head and cry, cry
From the beginning he was all anyone could have been
They were delirious with love, they were certain to win
Now he's breaking plans more and more
And he's leaving notes on her door
'took a trip out of town, couldn't turn this one down'
He said 'I guess I should have told you before'

She says she feels like she's addicted to a real bad thing
She's always sitting, waiting wondering if the phone will ring
She knows she bounces like a yo-yo when he pulls her string
It hurts to feel like such a fool
She wants to tell him not to call or come around again
He doesn't need her now at all the way that she needs him
She's on the edge about to fall from leaning out and in
And she don't know which way to move

She wants to be fair, she couldn't say he was ever unkind
But if she could bear to walk away, she thinks he wouldn't mind
'cause he just keeps himself so apart
And there's no one else in her heart
So she's taking a dive from an emotional high
And coming down hard

She's determined to try, but she'll still give in when he gives her a call
And She'll ask herself why, but in the end it won't matter at all
Sure she could sit at home, stay inside
And sleep alone with her pride
And as she walks out her door, she feels as weak as before
With nothing to hide

(Repeat Chorus)

When I went onto YouTube to look for a video, I found a pleasant surprise - this very good video of both Dan and Cheryl singing the song together on the American Music Shop tv show. They perform together so well, and this is such a moving version of the song, I just had to include it here.

Good-bye Dan. You were such a gentle man who sang such gentle, beautiful songs. We miss you.


  1. I forgot to mention in the text of the post that Cheryl and I went to high school in Maryland, just north of Baltimore, which makes meeting up again a decade after graduation so weird. Small world and then some, huh?

    K, thanks so much for inviting me along on this ride. I'm looking around for my next xhoice.

  2. Roy - lovely memories of Dan Seals and of the song he sang with CW. I have lots of both of their CDs and *love* their voices. I can't believe that they actually sang together! How terrific. Thanks for posting this!
    Lori L. Lake

  3. heard 'one friend' at a shoe store last night-- Googled it and discovered Dan Seals... a little late in the day... but as they say music is immortal...god bless Dan wherever you must be a good place

  4. A good guy speaks from all our hearts!!! take care see you again Dan. U da man!!! Cpl Jayson Bogue Usmc