As a child growing up, there were frequently various exercises that tested the abilities of readers looking at two pictures side by side to be able to tell the differences between them. This is not merely a game, for it can have some practical uses as well. Once I applied for a job copyediting and part of the job application was proofreading a paragraph and finding exactly what was wrong with it. Now, I tend to consider myself far more naturally a writer than I am an editor, but I usually appreciate it when people inform me what a given text actually says, since I am generally well aware of what I meant to say and the fingers do not always respond on the keys exactly the way I want them to. I would hope that such occasions do not happen often enough to mar my own writing, but I have known people who took offense to the fact that I was able to find many typos in their writing, thinking that I was seeking to find fault with them as being poor writers or poor thinkers, when my intent was merely that they would find someone who was competent and interested in helping to make their work easier and more pleasant to read. I have read more than enough self-published works in my life to know that the reading experience is greatly improved when the reading is clean and error-free.
All of that is context, because “What’s Wrong With This Picture?” happens to also be the name of the second album for one of the most noted session musicians of a decade that was prolific in session musicians , a man by the name of Andrew Gold. Andrew Gold, like many musicians, had a foot in the door of the music industry thanks to his father, who was a well-known and well-regarded film composer from the 1950s and 1960s. Andrew Gold paid his dues as a session musician for Linda Rondstadt, Carly Simon, and many others before he was able to release his own successful solo album, which had three hits, two of which have survived in the public consciousness even now. The big hit off of the album, and a top 10, was “Lonely Boy,” a hit that managed to inspire me to write a different poem of the same name as I sat all alone waiting outside a conference center for choir practice to begin on the afternoon before the beginning of the Feast of Tabernacles in Wildwood, New Jersey in 2005. At least as well known, if not better known, was the second hit single off of the album, “Thank You For Being A Friend,” which later became the theme song of the hit television show Golden Girls. In fact, I remember watching that show when I was a kid–which was very practical growing up among a lot of old people in Florida–where there was a live performance by Andrew Gold, which the ladies appeared to particularly enjoy, and of course he performed that song.
This particular album is of personal interest to me not only because of the popularity of its hit songs but because my mother, for reasons unknown to me, managed to commit an album review it received to memory well enough to convey the review more or less verbatim to me one time, probably while we were watching Golden Girls together. She remembered a somewhat negative album review that blamed “Thank You For Being A Friend” for being materialistic and thought it was totally insipid that someone should try to pass off a line saying that someone who was told he was the only son should be able to think of themselves as the only one. Of course, in the song the titular lonely boy was only two at the time, and two year olds think a lot of things that aren’t particularly bright or true or wise. Many of us who are far older do just as poorly in what we think of ourselves, others, or the world in which we live. Anyway, I happen to relate very well to the feelings of the narrator of that song, and probably many others do as well.
Unfortunately, Andrew Gold is no longer making music, since he died young in 2011 before even reaching 60 years of age. He had lived a rich life, performing in successful bands (like Wax, which had a couple of UK hits), performing as a solo artist to some success, and being especially beloved as a talented musician on the hit songs and albums of other artists as diverse as Cher, Eric Carmen, Jennifer Warnes, Paul McCartney, Diana Ross, and Freddie Mercury . And although he is no longer around to make music, he has left behind a body of work that is interesting and quirky, and that continues to strike a chord with contemporary musicians like the Foo Fighters. If his albums were not as successful as he would have liked them, he was the sort of person who worked well with others, and in a world as insular as that of the music industry, that is always going to lead to having a good enough life. To have talent and a winning personality is to have the skills to make the most of a life that began with promise and opportunity, and let us all hope to have lived as well and been as productive, even behind the scenes. That’s a picture of a successful life to me, one well worth remembering and celebrating.
 See, for example: