March 1979: Supertramp Think Deep Thoughts on "Logical Song"

Supertramp in 1979
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Jean-Louis URLI/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images

On Jan. 14, 2019, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) unveiled a holiday known as World Logic Day, a celebration devoted to "fostering international cooperation, promoting the development of logic, in both research and teaching." Nearly four decades before that, Supertramp was ahead of the curve on logic promotion thanks to their biggest hit, "The Logical Song," off the album Breakfast in America.

Behind its bouncy rock riffs, "The Logical Song" is a sharp critique of society as it lightly pummels expression and free will over a lifetime. As the narrator bemoans the world where he's expected to be "so dependable / oh clinical, oh intellectual, cynical," the chorus gives way to a yearning set of questions:

There are times when all the world's asleep
The questions run too deep
For such a simple man
Won't you please, please tell me what we've learned
I know it sounds absurd
Please tell me who I am

These weren't mere questions written down after a few tokes of the local stuff, mind you. Singer Roger Hodgson, who wrote the song, was inspired by his upbringing in English boarding schools. He was affected by the no-nonsense education and left for America as soon as he got the chance. "Throughout childhood we are taught all these ways to be and yet we are rarely told anything about our true self," he explained in a 2014 interview. "We go from the innocence and wonder of childhood to the confusion of adolescence that often ends in the cynicism and disillusionment of adulthood."

Read More: Eight Undeniable Facts About Supertramp's 'Breakfast in America'

Though this sentiment would be shared by other hits written and released that same year, like Pink Floyd's "Another Brick in the Wall (Part 2)," Hodgson was not immediately convinced of the track's potential. "I had actually finished the words and the arrangement six months before I proposed it to the band for the album," he admitted to The Huffington Post in 2012. "I didn't think anyone would like it."

Fortunately, his initial belief was quickly corrected. "The Logical Song" became the band's best-selling single worldwide, reaching the Top 10 in both America and England. It also won England's prestigious Ivor Novello award for exemplary songwriting, and no less an expert on quality songwriting than Paul McCartney named it his favorite song of the year. Talk about dependable!

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