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Don't expect me To Be Sympathetic To Lobo's Hit of Fifty Years Ago

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Lobo Had Numerous Top Forty Hits In the Seventies


A year before Lynyrd Skynyrd would pay musical homage to a simple man on their debut album, singer-songwriter Lobo had already addressed that subject. He had in fact named his Platinum-selling album Of a Simple Man, which produced two Top Ten singles.

Born Roland Kent LaVoie, Lobo had been on the music scene long before his breakthrough 1972 release. His first band the Rumors spawned several future recording stars, Gram Parsons who would transform the Byrds and Jim Stafford of “Spiders and Snakes” fame.

After going solo Lobo scored a hit with “Me and You and a Dog Named Boo” from his debut album, but he became a star with Of a Simple Man. Its two major hits, which like the album turn fifty this year, were “I'd Love You To Want Me” and “Don't Expect Me To be Your Friend.”

It is the latter song which for many years touched me deeply, for I easily sympathized with the heartbroken man.

“I love you too much to ever start liking you,” he admits in the chorus. “So don't expect me to be your friend.”

He tries desperately to get over the girl who does not return his love, sending no more flowers to her and paying no more surprise visits. He even avoids visiting the places they used to frequent, not wishing to be reminded of her.

She apparently does not realize the depth of his feelings for her, since she still calls him at night. Too, her face and mood seem to light up whenever the two happen to meet, as he so vividly points out in the last verse.

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“You always act so happy when I see you, you smile that way, take my hand and then introduce me to your latest lover,” he says. “That's when I feel the walls start crashing in.”

As a young man I sympathized terribly with the luckless lover, thereby critical of the girl. She has obviously rejected him, yet she still leads him on by calling and inviting him to visit.

Then after raising daughters of my own, I began to resent the man less than the woman. He obviously needs to get over it and leave her alone, for she has clearly moved on. I thought there was something psychologically wrong with a man who, even after seeing his love interest with other romantic partners, continues to carry a torch.

Hearing the song leaves me feeling sympathy for neither the man nor the woman, but instead for the only other character mentioned. It is the “latest lover” in the last verse whom deserves the most sympathy, being a kind of an innocent bystander in this messy lover/friend/acquaintance relationship.

I envision the poor guy walking along with this new girlfriend, looking forward to what could blossom into a permanent romance. Then the girl suddenly stops upon seeing this other male, whom she greets with a smile while taking his hand.

At that point, the so-called friend should alert this new guy about the girl's inability to commit to a monogamous relationship. He knows first hand how it feels to be involved with this fickle female, so he owes it to the new guy to tell him to run as fast as his feet will carry him.

As he reiterates in the chorus, he is not expected to be a friend to the girl. He should, however, serve as one to a fellow man who is facing certain heartache.

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