Supertramp’s ‘The Logical Song’ Explained

‘200 Greatest 70s Rock Songs’ Book Excerpt

Frank Mastropolo
The Riff

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Bong Records

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Supertramp’s 1979 LP Breakfast in America featured its memorable title track and “The Logical Song,” which reached №6 and was the band’s biggest hit. The song, an indictment of the UK’s education system, was primarily written by Roger Hodgson, who told Creating the Classics that he reached back to his childhood for the lyrics.

“For many years I complained about being sent away to boarding school but I have to say that it spawned a lot of great songs and ‘The Logical Song’ was one of them.

“I do remember being very, very happy as a young kid, very happy and I see 8mm movies of me and I was just a joy bubble, I was very happy and then I see later 8mm movies after they sent me to school and I’ve got stress on my life and I’ve got stress lines on my face already, so something happened when I got sent away to school.

“I started getting confused and the joy kind of started leaving me. They left me with the question, ‘Please tell me who I am.’ I want to remember that joy-filled being that came into this world.”

“The Logical Song” by Supertramp

“When you’re writing a song,” Hodgson said in Classic Rock, “sometimes you feel like you’re 80 percent successful, but with ’The Logical Song’ I felt like I’d nailed it 100 percent. As a melody, a lyric, an arrangement, and a recording, it really is perfect in its completeness.

“The song was born out of my questions about what really mattered in life. Throughout childhood, we’re taught how to behave, yet we’re very rarely told anything about the deeper purpose of life. We go from the innocence and wonder of childhood to the confusion of adolescence, and that often ends up in disillusionment in adulthood. And many of us spend our lives trying to get back to that innocence.”

“Early adulthood can be a very confusing time,” Hodgson explained in Classic Rock Revisited. “You learn all of these things in school and then you are thrown out into the world and you’re expected to have all of the answers. I didn’t have any of the answers. I certainly hadn’t found the answers to the deeper questions in school.

“The song was very autobiographical. I knew how to be sensible, logical, and cynical but I didn’t have a clue who I was. To me, that is the life journey we are on; to find out who we are and what life is. They don’t teach you that in school.

I wanted to know where true happiness lay. I wanted to know who or what God was because it didn’t make any sense. The God they taught me was not working. I knew there had to be an inward connection as that is where everything was pointing. It was a connection that was severely lacking in me and I was longing for it.”

“I think it was very relevant when I wrote it, and actually I think it’s even more relevant today,” Hodgson told Songfacts in 2012. “It’s very basically saying that what they teach us in schools is all very fine, but what about what they don’t teach us in schools that creates so much confusion in our being.

“They don’t really prepare us for life in terms of teaching us who we are on the inside. They teach us how to function on the outside and to be very intellectual, but they don’t tell us how to act with our intuition or our heart or really give us a real plausible explanation of what life’s about.”

Frank Mastropolo is the author of the 200 Greatest Rock Songs Series.

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Frank Mastropolo
The Riff

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