Utopian Turtletop. Monsieur Croche's BĂȘte Noire. Contact: turtletop [at] hotmail [dot] com

Monday, April 26, 2004


Heard 3 terrific records driving home from work this evening. First, on the "quality rock" station, "Every Picture Tells a Story" by Rod Stewart. I didn't catch all the words but he made the hooky repetitive melody sound urgent, and the syncopated staggering rock drum pattern between vocal lines just rocked. Gotta look that drummer up. He has a religious fervor about the snare drum -- I can only nod my head, squint, and respectfully, satisfiedly, say, "Yeah." At one point Stewart mentions his inability to quote Dickens or Shelley or Keats, noting that it's all been said before -- I don't remember the exact words, but the rueful & subversive wit of the line! Rod & the drummer take it up a notch for the finale, as he chants "every picture tell a story, don't it" and the whole band wails.

I turned the dial to the "great songs, great memories" station & heard Johnny Mathis sing "Misty," and at the end of the instrumental break when he comes in a measure or two early with a high falsetto note, starting quietly and building into the reprise of the last strain, singing "Aaaaaahhhhhnn my own / will I wander through this wonderland alone," -- it melts me. That high note, sneaking up on you.

Then the same station played Linda Rondstadt singing "I think I'm gonna love you for a long, long time," a cry, a love-lost lament, with a great sobbing vocal making that enveloping melancholy mood, until the very end when she takes it up a notch too and sings harder and more heartbroken and more desperate even than before as the melody makes a variation too, "I've done everything I know to try and make you mine" -- oh, it's great. Catharsis.

The songs build beautiful patterns of expectation, and at just the right moment -- THAT moment -- the singers (in one case aided by the drummer) break the expectation with an excess of knowing feeling. Excess. Excess. Can't get enough of it.

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