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Stephen Bishop's On and On is an American Classic
Stephen Bishop's On and On is an American Classic
04/13/09 at 03:38 PM by Gregory Robson

Today the jukebox in my head is playing "On and On" by Stephen Bishop. Has anyone heard this song? It's probably one of the better soft-rock songs from the late 1970s I've ever heard. As someone who dabbles in soft rock rather frequently I can confidently say there aren't many songs better than this. The only one I can think of at the moment, that might be better, is Kenny Loggin's "Danny's Song."

I first heard of "On and On," when Graham Colton performed it live in concert in April of 2002 at Chapel Hill's Cat's Cradle. As he described it, "My father was a musician and he used to always play this song. Now that he's died, I can't help but play this song, because it always makes me think of him." It was such a candid reflection but one that stuck with me. Of course once he played the song I felt moved and stirred. In a way I hadn't in quite a long time.

I downloaded it the very next morning and have been listening to it going on seven years now and never tire of it. An interesting anecdote is that 13 months after first hearing Graham Colton play it, I was in a bathroom in Orlando, FL and heard Stephen Bishop's original version of the song playing on the loud speakers. I can't really say if I liked it better, but I did find it more authentic and felt his vocal style fit the song's lyrics better.

There's not a lot of oomph at work here, but the lyrics certainly are something we can all relate to. His laid-back, worry-free vocal delivery is certainly something that I find so charming and I still think that many contemporary artists strive to deliver that vocal style, but only he really pulls that off.

I've played the song for many friends and no one seems to be really blown away by it. Maybe it's not that kind of song. For me though, the song gets me every single time. I'm pretty confident that if I were to make a Top 100 songs, this would be on it.

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