Dated music

February 09, 2004


James Lileks wrote a thing about 80s' rock, and Michelle of A Small Victory (I keep wanting to call her Victorious Michelle or Michelle Victoriette, but neither would be appropriate) responded with a comment on Yes. I was reminded of their discussion when I went back to my own record collection and played some vinyl from 1965.

Let me give some more context. The library lent us a recording of Shawn Colvin Live '88, a very good concert in the soprano with a guitar variety. She plays her hits: Steady On, Shotgun Down an Avalanche, and so on. She also covers the Paul Simon tune Kathy's song. Many of Colvin's choices for this concert are songs about love out of control, including Shotgun:

Sometimes you make me lose my will to live
And just become a beacon for your soul
But the past is stronger than my will to forgive
Forgive you or myself, I don't know

I'm riding shotgun down the avalanche
Tumbling and falling down the avalanche

It is a good song, both with the full band and in this minimalist approach. But, it did not grab me the way that Kathy's Song did. Again, it is a song about loving and longing, although while Shotgun is a breakup song this is a song about long distance relationships:
And as a song I was writing is left undone
I don't know why I spend my time
Writing songs I can't believe
With words that tear and strain to rhyme.

And so you see I have come to doubt
All that I once held as true
I stand alone without beliefs
The only truth I know is you.

I spent the entire weekend with that song, and its little guitar riff, stuck in my head. I thought about slapping myself to try to jar the needle out of its groove, but refrained because it might well have skipped to the Oysternband's I Look to You
Crazy people
Stare into the mirror to see what's true
But I
I look for you
a song that I alternately think is about obsessive love for a person and obsessive love for God.

I digress, I just wanted to share some lyrics.

To bring this back to James and Michelle, I dug out Sounds of Silence, the 1965 Simon and Garfunkle album with Kathy's Song on it and played the album through.

It is a good album, but it is also dated. In fact, I think it was dated by 1966 - the whole album is a mixture of laments about the difficulties people have communicating with one another, wistful love songs, and Greenwhich Village boho radical chic. On the other hand, they do use a wonderful Farfisa organ on a couple of tracks, and up-tempo Farfisa organs are always good.

Listening to the album, with its earnest concerns and cleverly commercialized remixes of material from their even more dated first album, was like looking through a window into a particular moment in the past. Some art is timeless, or so the Enlightenment dudes would claim, but this particular album is very closely tied to a time and place, and I think that is what I like about it.

That is all.

Posted by Red Ted at February 9, 2004 08:53 AM | TrackBack