Signs header
Signs of Life cover

Signs Of Life

© 1984 Capitol Records, Inc.
Produced by Billy Squier and Jim Steinman for Obsidian Productions, Inc.

Billy Squier: vocals, guitars, synclavier
Bobby Chouinard: 
drums
Alan St. Jon: 
keyboards & synthesizers, backing vocals
Jeff Golub: 
guitar & slide
Doug Lubahn: 
bass, backing vocals

Additional musicians:
Brian May: guitar solo in “1984”
Alfa Anderson: backing vocals “1984”
Rory Dodd, Eric Troyer: backing vocals “fall for love,””reach for the sky”
Jimmy Maalen: miscellaneous percusion
Larry Fast: synthesizers
… synchronization – J.B. Moore

Recorded by Tony Platt at the Power Station, N.Y.C., assisted by Gary Rindfuss
Additional recording & mixing: Battery Studio 1, London…
Tape-op: Anjati Dutt
Mastered at Sterling Sound by George Marino

Album coordination: Roger R. Vitale, Don Ketteler
Production assistant: John Jansen
Technical supervision & maintenance: Frank Levi

Cover design & illustration: Bill Smith (racket)
Rear cover collage: John Van Hamersveld…
Photography: Norman Seeff

All songs written by Billy Squier

… special thanks to the staff of the Ritz Carlton Hotel, N.Y.C.


Signs of Life Tour
Signs of Life Tour, 1984

I’ve always looked at “Signs of Life” as being a pivotal record in my career, though for reasons you might not expect. Going into the project, things couldn’t have been better. I’d just come off a great success with the “Emotions…” LP and tour. I’d bought my first home in the city where I’d struggled to make ends meet for over ten years while pursuing my dream of a career in music…the only dream that ever really mattered. I had back-to-back smash records and was on top of the world (or close to it). But things aren’t always as they seem.

I’d signed up Robert John “Mutt” Lange to produce SOL. Mutt was really coming into his own, having produced major records for AC/DC, Foreigner, and Def Leppard, and the idea of working together really excited both of us. Several years earlier, before meeting Mutt, I’d had a brief tryst with his wife, whom I met at Tramp’s, the famous London night club owned by Johnny Gold. This sort of dalliance was fairly common practice in those days, and I never gave it much thought. As we readied ourselves to go into the studio, Mutt fell behind schedule with The Cars “Heartbeat City” record, so I took the band into rehearsals to start fleshing out the new material I’d written. One day, we were interrupted by a long-distance phone call from Mutt: “Billy, I know all about you and Olga – I’m not doing the record.” Just like that, our spectacular collaboration was in ruins. I was stunned. I soon learned that the two of them were breaking up and surmised she must have said something catty, to the effect of, “Have fun with Billy, I did.” Mutt is a very decisive and strong-willed person, and when he makes his mind up, that’s that. He would not allow us to have a conversation about what had transpired…he just shut the door and walked away.  

A short time later, my manager, Stewart Young, presented me with an intriguing, if slightly off-the-wall alternative; Jim Steinman, the writer of Meatloaf’s “Bat Out of Hell.” I met with Jim and was taken by the originality of his thinking and his thoughtful attitude. He was quite keen to explore some different directions with my music, in addition to maintaining the essential underpinnings. This appealed to me, as I didn’t want to get into a rut of trying to rehash prior successes, but rather wanted to stretch out a bit and explore new horizons. So it seemed like a good creative fit in many ways.

I already had most of the songs written that eventually appeared on SOL. I came up with the riff and melody for “Rock Me Tonite” while diving offshore in Mikonos in the summer of ’83. I remember coming up for air and shouting to my girlfriend, “I’ve just written the first hit for the record.” Wish they all came that easy, and in such idyllic surroundings. As the record was scheduled for release the following year, I decided to write something that addressed how the Orwellian masterwork played out in real time…hence 1984. Jim was particularly helpful when it came to arranging songs like this: he had a musical vision that encompassed a flare for opera—listen to the bridge in 1984—and a cinematic overview, as evidenced in the epic treatment of “Reach For The Sky.” He also prodded me to write what he viewed as a unique sort of ballad, and I responded with “Fall For Love.” This song would not exist if not for his constant, gentle cajoling.

Putting the songs to tape proved to be a bit of a struggle. Jim’s forte was in writing and arranging, but his views on recording weren’t exactly in sync with mine. I’ve always been extremely picky about “the sound” of my records, from each individual instrument down to the ambiance of an entire track. I knew how I wanted my records to sound, and had learned how to do it from working with Mack. To insure that I got what I wanted, I hired Tony Platt to engineer the record. Tony, not by accident, had worked with Mutt on several of his aforementioned successes, and I felt this might be a way to bring some of Mutt’s innovative recording techniques to SOL afterall. Jim wanted to use an engineer he felt comfortable with, who was perfectly competent but not schooled in the manner I required. As it ended up, I placated Jim by keeping his engineer around in a consulting capacity, while Tony and I steered the recording down the road we mutually agreed upon. When it came time to mix, it immediately became apparent that there were too many cooks in the kitchen, so Tony and I flew off to London to finish the process at Battery Studios (where Mutt and Tony did a lot of their work). It was at this time that a second—and far more affecting—drama began to unfold…

But that’s another story.

signature

Lyrics

All Night Long
Billy Squier, © 1984 by Songs Of The Knight (BMI)

I get up –
I run through the world like a fire
Heat it up –
I swim in the flames of desire
Chase it if you care – take it if you dare –
It’s there in the air…
Answer to the gun – dance in the sun –
Run boy run…
Run for your life – you’re movin’ on and on
The art of survival is turnin’ me on
And I’ll be chasin’ it all night long
(Don’tcha wanna live)

I get out –
I roam through the streets like a tiger
Let it out –
I swing like a bird on a wire
Everywhere you go everybody knows –
Oh don’tcha know…
Everythin’ you do – anybody new –
They’re all on to you…
Fight for your life – turn it all round
The art of survival isn’t gettin’ me down
And I’ll be chasin’ it all night long
(Don’tcha wanna live)


Rock Me Tonite
Billy Squier, © 1984 by Songs Of The Knight (BMI)

I’m rockin’ tonite – I’m walkin’ on air
Gonna find me some trouble – gonna grab my share
I want ya tonite – I want ya with me
Make me guilty of love in the first degree

You want it all right… we’re goin’ in style
Say you walk right – you talk right – and your hair’s so wild
Snow-white – hey that’s not what I mean
We go down in the shadows and crawl between

Moonlight in the city brings the magic to your eyes
Freezin’ a moment – leave me paralyzed
Breathe an emotion – set it dancin’ in my ear
Bring on the rhythm when I hold you near

Take me in your arms – roll me through the night
Take me to your heart – rock me tonite

You do it all right – you’re passion to see
You been schooled in the art of romancin’ me
Hold tight – you’re in for a ride
Can you feel the blood poundin’ way down inside

No one’s stoppin’ us now –
We go down, down where the music’s loud
If it’s all night – hey that’s all right by me
Go and play on my love – play it all for me

Life’s never easy – we can make it if we try
Takin’ our chances – face ’em side by side
Live for the moment – on that we can agree
Come and take me where I long to be

Chorus

A time for all… and all in time
To slip beyond the border line
Of who we are and where we long to be…
When every night you hear the sound
Of wakin’ up and breakin’ down
You find a chance and heave it all away

Chorus


Eye On You
Billy Squier, © 1984 by Songs Of The Knight (BMI)

I watch you on the TV – you’re with me every place I go
I’m caught up in the daydream – I’m into everyone you know
Turn on the action – grab every minute
Learn every lesson – then live to regret it
I’m so distracted – my mind’s disengaged
Sharin’ the moments when you’re all the rage

I got my eyes on you
Got my eye on you…

Those overnight conditions always get the best of you
You’re fuelin’ my suspicions – I’m taken by the sneak preview
You got the numbers – you got no limits
One day you’re out but the next day you’re in it
You find the answers – you know what to say
Give us our reason for livin’ today

Chorus

We share the laughter and pain when you’re in it
Bring on disaster – cause we know you’ll win it
We’re all believers – so watch what you say
Turn on those feelin’s – I can’t look away

Chorus


Take A Look Behind Ya
Billy Squier, © 1984 by Songs Of The Knight (BMI)

There’s trouble on the rise –
You can see it in the eyes of the livin’
There’s an order to defy –
There’s a room at the back of your mind
Word gets out – What’s it all about
Some take it in and some can do without
Don’t hang out in the shadow of a doubt
It’s time you split before they sign you out
They’ll have you sing the blues

Take a look behind ya
Take it on the run
Take a look behind ya
Look into the risin’ sun

You can dance, you can sing
But it doesn’t mean a thing without rhythm
You can slip – slide –
Stumble through the rest of your life
Time won’t stop – never gonna stop ya
You push the limit ’til the day you drop
Time don’t stop – race against the clock
You shun the risk – can you stand the shock
You got a lot to lose…

Take a look behind ya
Take it as it comes
Take a look behind ya
Don’t forget the things you done

You can run – you can hide
But you never put aside what you’re feelin’
Keep your balance – keep your stride –
Let it run through the rest of your life
Time don’t stop – ready or not
You got to give it everything you got
Life don’t stop – take it to the top…
You miss a step – feel the anchor drop
It all comes back to you…


Reach For The Sky
Billy Squier, © 1984 by Songs Of The Knight (BMI)

A spark of life – a beat in time
A lonely light that longs to shine
An open road that knows no end
A ray of hope around the bend
You got a dream – you wanna fly
You got an urge you can’t deny
Within your heart you found a voice
It’s callin’ you to make the choice

Reach for the sky – reach for the sky
Some men will quiver – some men will cry
Some deliver – and some will reach for the sky

You may be right – you can go wrong
You find the strength to carry on
Run satellite – your star unknown
And chase the light that guides you home
Live for the fight – fight to be free
You’re facin’ down reality
Where others fall, you take your stand
Answer the call – your heart’s command

Reach for the sky – reach for the sky
Some men will question – some will deny
Some find answers – and some will reach for the sky

Fight the fight day by day
Sing your song come what may
Race the storm – turn the tide
Some can never be denied

You walk alone through rings of fire
You never lose your one desire
Look for the sight that’s hard to see
And know that all is meant to be
You take your dream and make it real
And see the truth it must reveal
And in your heart that truth will shine
Your cause will stand the test of time

Reach for the sky – reach for the sky
Some men will vanish – some will survive
Some are restless and some will reach for the sky


(Another) 1984
Billy Squier, © 1984 by Songs Of The Knight (BMI)

From over the air comes a voice without care,
Says we’re down all right
But day out and day in from what he’s been sayin’
We’re in for a fight
I glance at myself and the world rushin’ by
I can see for myself and the fear comes alive
Shade of termination – we’re dyin’ to survive

1984

Machine is the mind – it will rule by design,
So you’re never alone
We store information without confirmation –
Accept the unknown
I think to myself of the times we have tried
To be true to ourselves and to live with the lie…
Avoid the contradictions – just keep yourself alive

1984

I can’t help it… I can’t help it… I can’t help it…
Life is your decision – we choose to do or die
Can you live with the reality of 1985

Polite conversation ain’t no consolation
For blanks in your eyes
Amid the confusion there lives the illusion
That love will survive
But I got a chance with myself if I try
To be sure of myself and myself choose to try
Fight for stimulation and love to stay alive

1984


Fall For Love
Billy Squier, © 1984 by Songs Of The Knight (BMI)

You know sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night… and I get to thinkin’ about all the crazy things we do in life just to get by…
somehow somethin’ always seems to escape me… I find myself holdin’ on to nothin’ more than a dream… and it keeps hauntin’ me…
over and over and over again…

In a darkened sky of blue
I’m thinkin’ of you…
As the pieces come unglued
I’m reachin’ for you…
Love can change the days in your life
Heartbeats and whispers in the dead of night
The sound of a hand – the touch of an eye
Visions are callin’ that you can’t deny

And I fall for love…

So everyday I’m out on the street tryin’ to make some sense of it… you know sometimes it feels so close – I can almost reach out… but
it always slips away… I keep tellin’ myself… “I can’t stop tryin’… not ever…”

‘Til I see that dream come true
Baby with you…
If it’s the final thing I do
I’m waitin’ for you…
Loneliness and love will collide
The body’s breakin’ but the spirit’s alive
And just when you think it’s all been a lie
Visions are callin’ and you never can deny

And I fall for love…

I’m gonna keep on tryin’…


Can’t Get Next To You
Billy Squier, © 1984 by Songs Of The Knight (BMI)

Say I can’t get next to you
Doesn’t matter what I do
You charge me up and wring me through
No I can’t get next to you

I feel the heat… you turn it on
I feel the beat poundin’
You make me weak… you trip me up
I feel my heart boundin’
Make it so hard on me
Make me too blind to see
Turn on your light… make it so right
Don’t leave me lonely… I get so lonely
Say I can’t get next to you
Doesn’t matter – what can I do
You won’t deliver and I can’t get through
No I can’t get next to you

I climb the walls you’re buildin’ up
I find your halls alarmin’
You know my weakness… you suck it up
Take my heart and chuck it
Gimme one chance to see
Gimme one dance for free
Gimme one night… make it so right
Don’t leave me lonely… I get so lonely


Hand Me Downs
Billy Squier, © 1984 by Songs Of The Knight (BMI)

Look to your left – look to your right
Look to yourself – look for a fight
If looks could kill, I’d be dead on sight
Ooh yeah – you’re dynamite
Pushin’ yourself – think you’re so nice
Foolin’ yourself – never think twice
Everything goes – keep me on ice
Your kind of love cuts me down like a knife
I see your demons marchin’ into my life

Don’t want your hand-me-downs

Play it all wrong – say it’s all right
Play on too strong – play it too tight
Take it too far – do it in spite
Ooh yeah – you’re such a fright
(Spirit lives on) in the past
(Passion ignites) you been movin’
(Movers move on) much too fast
(Soldiers must fight)
Shakin’ me up – move to indict
We’re bound to lose when you start to fight
I see your secrets steppin’ into the light

Don’t want your hand-me-downs

Say it’s all wrong – say it’s good night
Say it’s so long – take a big bite
Say what you will – say it just right
Ooh yeah – get out of sight
(Gonna hang tough) ooh yeah
(Gonna hang tight) should I lose ya
(Ya wanna play rough) I don’t care
(We’ll do it up right)
I read the news… I seen the light
I got to move when the time is right
Get me my ticket I’m outa sight

Don’t want your hand-me-downs


Sweet Release
Billy Squier, © 1984 by Songs Of The Knight (BMI)

Destiny’s a road we ride
Sight unseen – our thoughts untried
Through the years – a million miles
A trial of errors – a life of trials
There’s a sign along the highway
There’s a candle by my bed
There’s a face in the doorway
There’s a price on my head

Sweet release… come in peace
Sweet release… won’t you carry me on
Sweet release… my falls increase
Sweet release… I’m not that strong

Sex machine will break you down
Strip you clean and take your crown
Wasted nights – rise and fall
One-way lights – they hide it all
Now I stand before the mirror
Hold the candle to my face
I can feel the scars burnin’
But they don’t leave a trace

Sweet release… rest in peace
Sweet release… I toss and turn
Sweet release… come and teach me
Sweet release… We never learn

Black and white is black and red
None are right – but some are dead
Through every life the war drags on
Our hopes and dreams lie ripped and torn

Sweet release… give us peace
Sweet release… won’t you carry me on
Sweet release… will it never cease
Sweet release… can’t you see I’m not that strong