Monday, September 17, 2007

Baby, Better Come Back, Maybe Next Week

I’ve been on a phenomenal run, iTunes-wise. I’m in the midst of a three-week, twenty-six song winning streak where every song that I’ve downloaded has been a good one. Contained within those twenty-six songs is an incredible four-song set of really great songs that I downloaded one after the other. Why is that important? Because it just is, dude (if you're a true head, I know that you dig what I'm saying). Because it’s great when stuff like that happens, when you get four great songs that sound even greater together, because it’s a thrill when you hear them together for the first time as you're driving lonely country roads, taking the long way to wherever it is that you had to get.

The four songs: Show and Tell, by Al Wilson; Song to the Siren, by This Mortal Coil; You Make Me Feel Brand New, by The Stylistics; and Turn My Way, by New Order.

I’d never heard of Al Wilson before, or if I had, the name hadn't stuck. Really, somebody should have mentioned to him the idea of a stage name, but this song, man, this song…it’s about a guy who’s in love trying to get his lady to say if she loves him or not. He’s out there, exposed (he’s already told her how he feels and how much she means to him), but he’s going for it, even if she says that she’s not in love. Dig the lyrics:

Show and tell, just a game I play When I wanna say "I love you" Girl, so show me and tell me That you feel the same way, too Say you do, say you do, baby, baby, baby

Imagine those lyrics being sung by an aching/yearning voice and you're going to feel great but, at the same time, think about every single girl that you’ve ever loved, which is both good (because love's okay, mostly) and bad (because sometimes love is the opposite of okay).

The This Mortal Coil is a cover of a Tim Buckley song, but this version kicks ass all over the Buckley. I’d never listened to This Mortal Coil before though I knew of their existence (mostly because I’d once tried to figure out how many bands/movies/songs/novels/poems/you get the idea had been named after Hamlet’s famous soliloquy [you know, what dreams may come/When we have shuffled off this mortal coil; If I ever get a second poetry collection finished {unlikely} and get to a third {highly unlikely}, the third’s title will probably be The Heart-ache and the Thousand Natural Shocks]), and I had thought that it was a cool name for a band, but that was as much thought as I’d given to them. (If I ever start a band, by the way, it’s going to be called Paper Covers Rock just because it has the word rock in it.) Then, just this Sunday, and for no reason that I can recall, I had that phrase, “song to the siren,” stuck in my head, and while I was on iTunes I typed it into the Power Search feature and there was the This Mortal Coil version. I listened to the thirty-second excerpt, thought it sounded cool, downloaded it, and was blown away. The sound reminds me of My Bloody Valentine (one of my favorite bands) , but slowed down and sparser, more dreamy. Another reason to like this song: the album on which it can be found is named “It’ll End in Tears,” which has just become my new motto.

Damn, The Stylistics are great. I’d never given them a shot just because of their name. Yeah, I know that sounds shallow, but I’ve never been able to get with people or groups who self-label as cool or smart or, in this case, stylish. It seems crass and boastful and common to me. But then I’d found out that they sing Betcha By Golly Wow, a lovely song that I’d remembered hearing on the radio a few times when I was a kid and that had stuck in my memory. I’d never learned the title, or who sang it (Do you ever think about how many songs you’d love to find a copy of if you could only discover and/or remember the name or the singer? It’s sad, really, when you think about it.), but, once I did, I downloaded it. So then on Sunday I was checking the Essentials section of the iTunes Music Store and there was another song by The Stylistics, You Make Me Feel Brand New. It sounds hopeful and lovely (because there’s a you and there’s a new start with that you and there’s a world that is opening up), but also sad because it speaks of not only having to come through and survive the past (and all of the pain that you felt and all of the damage that you suffered), but also of having to try to fool yourself (and the person with whom you are in love) that the past can be forgotten or ignored, because. my sisters and brothers, we all know that it can’t.

The New Order song isn’t just New Order; Billy Corgan (of the Pumpkins), also sings on the track, so you’ve got one of the mopiest bands of the 80’s working with the lead singer of one of the mopiest bands of the 90’s. That’s not double the mopiness, it’s, like, mopiness to the third power, or something. New Order is all about longing and regret and missed opportunities and a sense that the world is too sad and so’s Corgan, and that shit speaks to me (because I’m all about longing and regret and missed opportunities and a sense that the world is too sad). Parts of this song speak to me as a writer who wishes that he had more time to read and write (who, in other words, wishes that he had a different life [but don’t most writers?]) with lyrics like Don't want to own a key/don't want to wash my car/Don't want to have to work like other people do/ I want it to be free/I want it to be true. And parts of this song speak to me as a person who thought that he had it all locked in but who, a little at a time, found out that he didn’t with lyrics like I saw the things I wanted to see/Became the man I wanted to be/But then somehow I lost my way/I've got to get back there today.

These four songs sound great and they sound really great together but they’re going to sound even greater when winter comes around, when it’s cold and gray and dusk comes early and you're driving way too fast and thinking about all that’s flown away from you.

No comments: