Hokus Pick Manouver - Pick it Up
Music You Might Want to Consider - H
My pastor when I was in high school had a radio show.
And I thought that was possibly the coolest thing ever.
Occassionally, I was invited to come along and sit in while he was on the air, and it was on one of these Saturday nights that I discovered Hokus Pick Manouver.
Let me get this out of the way really quick: Hokus Pick Manouver (and later, Hokus Pick) is a terrible band name. In a world where the “That’d make a great band name” game exists, nobody should land on “Hokus Pick Manouver” as an option. But somehow, four guys from Vancouver did1.
But how did I find them and subsequently become a fan of theirs? One Word: Rebellion.
Their first major release in the US was Pick it Up, a 13 song record that escapes any sort of genre descriptor, but lands somewhere between Moxy Früvous and Barenaked Ladies2. Silly, but, for the most part, it was musically sound. And honestly, the last word one might associate with HPM is rebellion, though.
Because the music of Hokus Pick Manouver is safe, clean, and fun. Nothing rebellious about it at all. But at the time, I dug Hokus Pick Manouver because nobody around me did.
I was a weird kid. I became a Christian after being introduced to the gospel through Christian heavy metal. But I mellowed out - once I got through my metal phase, I settled into the lower key, alternative/new wave music that I still predominantly listen to even now. Most of my Christian friends didn’t dig metal, and they didn’t dig alternative.
They dug stuff like Carman, Phillips, Craig, & Dean, and Jerome Olds; standard CCM that went out of its way to be safe.
And while HPM was safe, it wasn’t safe enough for Christian radio.
Because they dared to write a love song. That included the word sex in the lyrics.3
In 1992, a song like that was scandalous in the world of Christian Radio. In fact, it’s probably still scandalous. So all of the buzz on one of the nights that I had the privilege of going to the radio station with my pastor and his family was about one of the DJ’s playing the song “Love and Co.” by Hokus Pick Manouver on his show the week prior.
The lyrics in question:
'Cause I want love and company, your tenderness and your sympathy - these are the things I'm longing for, Not sex, (no) not a one-night stand, but just to walk by the water as I'm holding your hand, I've been looking around for somebody that's true; now I'm looking at you.
The song is decidedly milquetoast, right?
But how dare they say the word sex, right?
Anyway, I heard the entire song, was hooked, and immediately ordered the album on cassette.
And the funny thing? “Love and Co.” isn’t even the best song on the record. But at the time, it was the most relatable.
Because, in 1992, all I wanted was two things:
To be left alone at home.
That’s it. What teenage boy didn’t want some kind of romance in their life? I couldn’t have been all that unusual.
To summarize “Love and Co.” is essentially the awkward note any teenage guy has wanted to write, or has written, in the hopes of landing the girl of their dreams. And it’s set to music, a simple chord progression on the guitar, that could easily be sung by a prospective Romeo on the front lawn, lifting up to the bedroom window of any Juliet in the world.
And, for lack of a better term, I loved it.
Because, not long after I heard it, I was able to write my own version of that note to a girl who sat behind me in biology class.
She had asked me to prom (she was a junior, I was a sophomore), I agreed, and we became pretty good friends. I immediately took her promposal4 as a sign that she liked me, and I was kind of right. So when I asked her to be my girlfriend, she said yes.
It was my own “Love and Co.”
I’d like to say that the love story with the girl from biology class ended well, but it didn’t. We broke up in the days after prom, tried to reconcile over the summer, but it just didn’t work out.
At least not then.
Rebellion is often coupled with immaturity, and I was immature when I was 16. Who wasn’t, right?
I wasn’t ready for a serious relationship when I was in high school, as much as I wanted to be in one. I don’t think anyone ever is. Happily ever after is a childhood dream but a grown up aspiration.
Not long after my relationship with the girl from biology ended, we truly reconciled. As friends.
In fact, she became my best friend.
And not long after, she became my girlfriend.
And then she became my wife.
It took a long time to get there - but I’d like to think that it all started with me sitting in the back room of a radio station, talking about a group of goofy Canadian guys who decided to use the word “sex” in a CCM song. Rebellion might be wrong, but it’s only wrong until it does something right.
I did some research on this, and found an interview from the late nineties where they talk about where the name came from. Doesn’t change how awful the name is, though. https://www.jesusfreakhideout.com/interviews/HokusPick.asp
I take it back - Hokus Pick Manouver is an awful name, Barenaked Ladies is a bad name, but the race to the terrible band name bottom is won by Moxy Früvous - what the heck does that mean? I guess bands from Canada have the market cornered when it comes to terrible band names, and no, just because The Tragically Hip is a cool band name, it doesn’t redeem the others.
Okay. I have to add a caveat here, because I don’t want people to think I am okay with sexually explicit lyrics, or songs about sex. Because I’m not. I am okay with love songs.
Let the record show that I hate the term promposal, and kind of hate myself for using it here.