What is the difference between Poco and the Eagles, apart from tens of millions of album sales? One of the great and enduring puzzles of the career of the band Poco is just how criminally underappreciated they were by the general public, and how it is that everyone who mentions their music career feels the need to bring up that point. I have much more to say about the group in the context of their influence on music in a future article, but for the moment I would like to talk about their second biggest hit, the song “Call It Love.”
Of how many bands can it be said that their first top twenty hit comes ten years after the band started and their second biggest hit came ten years after that? And of how many bands can it be said that while the general public barely knows a few of their songs that those who do know their songs universally acknowledge that they deserved so much better and try to figure out how it was that they failed to receive the commercial credit that other bands they were associated with did. They had several members in common with bands like Buffalo Springfield and the Eagles, but didn’t have any albums that went more than platinum, never even had a top ten hit (and only 3 top 20 hits), and only had two albums ever sell even 500,000 copies.
If I am not the most ideal audience for love songs, there is a certain sweet spot of songs that are honest and cautiously optimistic that tends to resonate with me. And Poco’s music certainly resonates with me. Whether one is talking about the guitar work, the gentle leading vocals as well as the background vocals, or the lyrics, “Call It Love” delivers a fine and bittersweet performance that is certainly very Nathanish, not least for being a country rock song with strong adult contemporary vibes. And it is that bittersweet vibe, with the pondering that one calls things love because they make us feel good or because they offer some sort of therapeutic value or because of our commitment to them, that allows for the song to stay with you.
A band who can do that sort of thing multiple times–Crazy Love being another example of this, and even lesser known songs of theirs like Pickin’ Up The Pieces–deserves to be remembered. How was it that a band featuring members of the Eagles and with great songs and a winsome approach failed to catch on? While Spotify recognizes that I like them a good deal, it seems as if the music failed to catch on with the general public. What aspects of promotion are involved in such a task? There are a great many musical acts that release music, and few of them achieve any degree of popularity, much less staying power. And yet it seems criminal that a band like this never cracked the top ten despite having twenty years of music that has endured to the present day amidst a variety of disposable fads.