‘Tenderness’ – General Public

Tenderness - General Public

“Tenderness” by General Public is indeed a tender song, despite its upbeat tempo, handclaps and singsong melody. It’s naive, an anachronism, really, shoved in the middle of new wave in 1984, But it shines with sincerity and brings a smile to your face when you hear it.

The song begins with the simplest of melodies — E, D, C, D, E — the same as “Mary Had a Little Lamb.” A bassoon helps provide an accompaniment — an oddity for 80s pop music — and the beat shuffles along, double-time, at 180 beats per minute. Lead singer Dave Wakeling and Ranking Roger, formerly of the English Beat, pant with anticipation before Wakeling launches into the first verse, decrying the lack of tenderness in today’s society: “Seems like without tenderness there’s something missing.”

Wakeling continues to show that dating is more like a game in which people simply go through the motions: “Make sure that one night you’re here but next night you’re not.” His frustration grows as he grumbles, “It always leaves me searching for a little tenderness; where is the tenderness?”

This is the chorus, a wonderful section in which the simple sing-song melody from the beginning returns. There’s nothing fancy going on here, just a few notes that are maddeningly addictive. A mysterious bridge follows, and then the guitar takes over, strumming the bassline. A drum roll gains in intensity, and you feel the energy but long for that chorus in which Wakeling and Roger reassure us that a little tenderness is all we need.

“Tenderness” didn’t fare well in General Public’s home country of the U.K., just grazing the Top 100 at 95. It fare a little better across the pond, reaching No. 27 in America and No. 11 in Canada. It’s another example of a hidden jewel buried in music history. Let’s unearth it and enjoy.

Share this:

You Might Also Like