I was listening to George Michael’s Careless Whisper last evening for the first time with a new Australian wine I have discovered. Something called Wagallaroo Trail or Ballyhahoo Grail or something.
I wasn’t listening to the song for the first time, with a new Australian wine. I was listening to it, for the first time with an Australian wine. Note the position of the comma in the two above instances. Heh! I could easily be an English teacher (at a girls’ convent that has young nuns with bad habits. Heh!)
It must have been the wine but something struck me while I listened to Careless Whisper. Not physically, silly, metaphorically – a thought. I realized that the song would otherwise have been a mediocre piece had it not been for the saxophone solo which it starts and ends with, appearing in the middle as well.
The sax acts like a silken fabric that binds all the other grossly ordinary bits together, making the end product a truly eclectic listening experience. If you haven’t yet listened to Careless Whisper, you really do require therapy.
But then maybe I was high. The Australians make good booze, myte! Red, 13.5% v/v. Oooooh. Whatever caused it, when the sax came on, it seemed like a nipple-shaped dark chocolate icing on a vanilla cone dip.
Careless Whisper made me realize that, no matter how smutzy a song is, it only needs a redeeming filler or chorus to make it a hit.
Take Elton John’s Teenage Idol, from his album Don’t shoot me, I’m just the piano player. The honky-tonk style piano was great and the percussion superb, but still it wouldn’t have been the hit it turned out ta be, had it not been for the trumpet it started with, which comes on in the middle as well as the end.
Just take your index finger away from yore nose and wipe it if there’s a booger there and click on the link in the previous para. It’s free. Listen to the trumpet and you’ll know what I’m talking about.
What about Simon and Garfunkel’s Boxer, from their 1971 album, Bridge over troubled waters? The song is really humdrum, shmuckity foom, snority snore, the lyrics boring and no percussion. I mean I can’t stand all that country music crap that has just an acoustic guitar. I hate Bob Dylan, for instance. He looks like a stoned bus boy in Marrakesh. If you spoke to me about Bob Dylan, I’d have ta go looking for my barge pole. Folks who listen to crappy music like Bob Dylan or that woman who looks like a cross between a horse and a crane, Joan Baez, are losers, no offense. Mind you, if you are following my blog and you’re a fan of their’s this denigration wasn’t meant for you. You’re not a loser, just misled.
Me? Man, I jive to Grand Funk Railroad’s Mark, Don and Mel and Uriah Heep’s Tom, Dick and Harry. I sway to Crosby and Nash and their Wind on the Water. Graham Nash’s Wild Tales make me wild and only Deeple Purple’s Ian Gillan could be Jesus in Jesus Christ Superstar. Even Jesus must have turned in his celestial grave after hearing Ian’s plaintive cry as he bore the cross, “Why should I die? Would I be more noticed, than I was before? Would the things I’ve said and done, matter anymore?”
No, they don’t matter, J. They died with you, thanks to your priests f—king little boys en masse over the two millennia after you kicked it. All the things that you stood for are now dust, thanks to your 17thcentury friars burning Pueblo Indian priests in Mexico at the stake, for being heathens, refusing to be converted. Church attendance has plummeted across the western world. Instead of prayer, the Roman Catholic Church runs a bank which launders mob money in the Vatican. Your chosen ones have come a long way, J. Now we’ve all grown up and instead of going for mass, we go to PTSD group therapy sessions and cry recounting how we were deflowered as kids, inside confession booths and seminary dorms. You failed, J. In the end, you turned out to be ‘just an ordinary man’ as Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Mary put it.
But I digress, forgive me, I am an old man and brilliant as I am, my thoughts get waylaid. I was talking about ordinary songs with extraordinary choruses and fillers. I was speaking of Simon and Garfunkel’s Boxer and how mediocre the words and music are. If you are listening to it for the first time and are in a hurry, you might just switch channels, but if you wait, there is a point when manna suddenly descends from heaven with what sounds like a crash of thunder drum roll – in the form of a simple chorus..Lai la lai – lai la lai lai – lai la lai – lai la lai. It instantaneously transforms the song into a classic.
Michael Buble’s Everything does something similar to me. Again, it’ll test your patience with mediocre lyrics and yawn-jerking tones and then, Wham! – there’s the chorus.. love, love, love, love,love, love, love. It’s a beautiful cry, a sleepy, sweet drawl. I’d love to croon it to Scarlett Johanssen when I meet her.
And make no mistake about it – I am going ta meet Scarlett – if not here, then in the afterlife. Sure, I won’t be able to touch her since we are not made of flesh and blood up there. I am imagining walking up to her and reaching out, my index finger and thumb a centimeter apart and then just passing right through her nipples when I try to tweak them.
But I’ll ask Patrick Swayze how to do it. Patrick knows. (Though he tried it only on empty beer cans in the subway).