Friday, October 21, 2022

"Open Letter (To a Landlord)" by Living Colour

Song#:  3959
Date:  07/08/1989
Debut:  92
Peak:  82
Weeks:  5
Genre:  Alternative Rock

Pop Bits:  This band broke through with their #9 Rock/#13 Pop hit "Cult of Personality." It was the first single lifted from their debut album Vivid and it would end up earning the band a Grammy. For a follow up, this next track was selected for release. It just barely missed the Rock Top 10 peaking at #11. Over on the Pop chart, the tune didn't connect with folks as well as their first single and it wasn't able to get very far. The album had already peaked at #6 and gone platinum. A third single would do better thanks in part to the exposure the band got opening up on the Rolling Stones' tour, which began in August of '89.

ReduxReview:  I'm guessing the label went with this this social/political-themed track as the next single because the chorus was radio-friendly and memorable. However, the less melodic rockin' verses may have been a little overwhelming for pop radio. Still, it was a terrific song that should have done far better. Opening with an acoustic version of the chorus was a great choice. The warm chords drew you in along with Corey Glover's voice, but then it powerfully shifts gears into the first verse. The tune had a cool mid-section as well. The song's theme is still just as relevant today as it was back then.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  This song was co-written by the band's lead guitarist Vernon Reid and Tracie Morris. Morris was a poet who got to know Reid when he began the Black Rock Coalition in '95. The organization was set up to help promote Black musicians and their works. According to Morris, Reid contacted her one day asking for her help with the lyrics to a song he was working on. The pair got together and Morris was able to write some verse material. Reid was then able to incorporate her work into the tune, which focused on the gentrification of certain neighborhoods in New York City.


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