Sunday, December 12, 2010

My Life In Three Songs

I read The World In Six Songs by Daniel Levitin and I didn’t think much of it. That’s partly due to the fact that I’m not much interested in the working of the human brain, or any human physiology; call me perverse. And his overall analysis left me unconvinced and underwhelmed. (I didn’t think much of his first book either.)

But if nothing else it inspired the title to this post, which is a slight diversion to talk about 3 songs that I have put into heavy rotation at my desk here. The easiest way for me to get to then is though YouTube so that’s how I’ve been listening to them, and all are new discoveries to me, though 2 have been in my collection for a while, in the case of Kristofferson, over 15 years. Anyone with a big collection will know exactly how that works…

Kris Kristofferson: When I Loved Her – This is from The Silver Tongued Devil And I, one of the two really superb albums he did at the beginning of his career (the other was his first, originally untitled, then reissued as Me And Bobby McGee, LP). The song for me is a combination of reality, fantasy, wishful thinking, narcissistic idealization of romance and out and out daydreaming. Lines to keep:

… and it felt like coming home
When I found her…

Loudon Wainwright III: Your Mother And I – Having lived through it, I can tell you that the hardest part of ending a marriage is telling the kids, and there haven’t been all that many songs written about that. Lightfoot’s If Children Had Wings is one of the prettiest and most poignant, but it’s more about the parent than the child. Tammy Wynette’s D-I-V-O-R-C-E is wonderful Nashville schlock, larger than life, melodramatic, and totally bogus, and Cher’s You Better Sit Down Kids, written by Sonny and rerecorded in the 70 by Sonny & Cher as a duo with only Sonny singing (you figure it out), one that’s played in my head quite a bit over that last few years, well it’s straightforward, but, it’s prose to Wainwright’s poetry. Your Mother And I bores right into the heart of the matter, is emotionally honest but not emotive, and tells the truth. Thanks to my friend and colleague DD who clued me into Wainwright through his Christmas song.
The Kinks: Better Things – Pure sunshine, no saccharine. I wonder if anyone but Ray Davies could pull something like this off. I’ve been spreading this around, and I’m spreading it more right here. This is for all my readers, and anyone else who could use it...

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