Saturday, April 13, 2013

youtube and listening to america and bread


THESE days of warm autumn weather during holidays should be a relaxing time of reading, dreaming, seeing films on DVD you have always wanted to see, and the occasional crossword puzzle. Instead, with all the family responsibilities and living in a dislocated environment nothing very much like relaxation often takes place. So last night, numb and tired and in a state of stasis, and feeling unable to read my new Chloe Hooper novel, is a welcome relief. It’s one of the greatest discoveries, the Internet at its most useful for dreamers, romantics  and lovers of music. Of course when you drift into a random state of searching, anything might appear on your music screen.
The songs I played last night were songs that hard- nosed Metallica fans would call mawkish and overly sentimental. They wouldn’t spit on songs like this. None of their transformative power would ever reach them. And that is the beauty of music- like films, it elicits different reactions because we all have different tastes and experiences.
My clumsy pointers typed in the name of the band ‘America’.  I haven’t heard their music for a long time- not since I played my brothers’ vinyl copies. I love the simplicity of ‘Daisy Jane’ from the album 'Hearts' from 1975: 
‘Flying me back to Memphis
Honey, keep the oven warm
All the clouds are clearin
And I think we're over the storm.’
A metaphoric oven? A metaphoric storm? No, we shouldn’t read too much into the simplicity of these words. Surely it is simply because ‘warm’ needs a rhyming word for ‘storm’ or vice versa. It’s a lovely song I hadn’t heard for years. In big open expanses like the country America, you might have to fly a plane to see the person you love.
I just had to play ‘I Need You’ next, another song by America on their first, self-titled record in 1971. Simplicity perfected again. But this time love gone wrong. 
‘We used to laugh, we used to cry,
We used to bow our heads and wonder why
But now you’re gone, I guess I’ll carry on
And make the best of what you left to me….'
Favourites from years ago, on battered old TDK cassette tapes. ‘If You Leave Me Now’ by Chicago- from the album Chicago X -the only song of theirs that I ever really played- and ‘Goodbye Yellow Brick Road’ from the massive Elton John album of the same name, that I always thought had a lot of padding and should have been much shorter, just like The Beatles ‘White Album’ and especially George Harrison’s ‘All Things Must Pass.’ And who could pass up the dreamy romanticism of Bread? ‘Everything I Own’ is lovely and full of foolish commitment. But the song ‘Diary’ always struck the biggest chord with me:
‘I found her diary underneath a tree
And started reading about me
The words she’s written took me by surprise
You’d never read them in her eyes
They said that she had found the love she waited for
Wouldn't you know it, she wouldn't show it..'
The speaker of the song gets the shock of his life when a sudden tragic revelation occurs later on:
‘Her meaning now was clear to see,
The love she waited for was someone else not me
Wouldn’t you know it, she wouldn’t show it….’
I had a conversation with my seven year old daughter about the lyrics to this song tonight whilst she was cleaning her teeth. She understood what happened perfectly, and really felt the pain of the jilted lover. I explained that the same thing happens in the Jimmy Webb song ‘Someone Else’ from Art Garfunkel’s Watermark album. These are songs that reach across all age groups with their simple but telling lyrics and perfect melodies.
My fun hour of wading into the magnificent pool of  concluded after this when darkness fully invaded the avenue.  But not before I heard Gerry Buckley’s warm and comforting voice in my ear plugs again… telling me of an amusing story in ‘Sister Golden Hair’ of a kind of innocent eroticism:
'Well I tried to make it Sunday
But I got so damn depressed
So I set my sights on Monday
And I got myself undressed
I ain’t ready for the altar but I do agree there's times
When a woman sure can be a friend of mine.'