For Mickey Thomas, Starship’s “Sara” still holds haunting mysteries: ‘An audiophile song’

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Starship would score the second of three clustered, mid-1980s No. 1 hit singles with “Sara,” but there was something different about this one — something that has given it far more resonance in the years since its March 15, 1986 release.

There’s a textured emotional atmosphere that stood out, not only in a period of increasingly mechanized songcraft but, as Mickey Thomas tells us in an exclusive Something Else! Sitdown, in the hitmaking period then surrounding Starship, too.

“When you think about the exuberance pop of ‘We Built The City,’ or the kind of mainstream fashion of ‘Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now,’ ‘Sara’ had a solemn quality to it — and much more depth musically,” Thomas tells us. That’s the principal reason it’s held up better than the others.

Written by Peter Wolf, using Mickey Thomas’ then-wife’s name as inspiration, Starship’s “Sara” also stood out in another way: Guitarist Craig Chaquico and the recently returned Grace Slick played much lesser roles in this session, a harbinger of things to come, as keyboardist Pete Sears, Slick and then Chaquico would all depart into 1990. Today, it sounds a little like a requiem for Starship, too.

“Peter Wolf, who produced [1985’s] Knee Deep in the Hoopla and part of [the 1987 followup] No Protection, he wrote the song for me,” Thomas adds. “He’s a great musician, classically trained. He wrote something that was unusual for that time, something with a kind of haunting quality to it. All of my musician and sessions friends down in LA at that point in time, as soon as ‘Sara’ hit the radio, were calling me and saying: ‘Wow, man. I love that. How did you get that sound?’ It was an audiophile song.”

Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso has written for USA Today, American Songwriter, All About Jazz, and a host of others. Honored as columnist of the year five times by the Associated Press, Louisiana Press Association and Louisiana Sports Writers Association, he oversaw a daily section named Top 10 in the U.S. by the AP before co-founding Something Else! Nick is now associate editor of Ultimate Classic Rock.
Nick DeRiso
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