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

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

THE BEATING OF OUR HEART IS THE ONLY SOUND

On Oldies radio this morning, "I Think We're Alone Now" by Tommy James and the Shondells. The ode to teen-age petting, with the key line, "The beating of our heart is the only sound," and all the music goes quiet, except a drum mimicking a heartbeat (in rhythm with the rest of the song, natch), and the sound of crickets! It's very beautiful. Hushed, midwest summer night, stopping and listening just for a moment, holding your sweetheart close. (Tommy James grew up in Niles, Michigan, not far from my hometown, Kalamazoo.) (But what's a Shondell?)



I APPRECIATE THAT

Driving home tonight on the teen dance station I heard a coolly sexy sounding woman singing an old Paul Simon hit over a smokin' electronic dance beat.


She said it grieves me so to see you in such pain
I wish there was something I could do to make you smile again
I said I appreciate that


The singer spoke the last line quoted here as if conversationally, but not mopily, making it sound ever-so-slightly sarcastic, because who talks like that anyway? Not my favorite P. Simon song, but this was great.

Google tells me the name of the recording act is Plummet.

I thought of the dance-music hit cover of Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody" from 6 or 7 years ago, which I loved too, the African American urban milieu of the sound draining the story of kitsch and making it sound tragic and senseless, like a Johnny Cash murder ballad. I turned off the radio and started singing "Bohemian Rhapsody" as if it were a country song (I would omit the operatic bits, as the dance-music version did as well). I never called my mom "Mama," but a lot of black Americans do, as do a lot of white American southerners. If someone out here reading this thinks, damn, that WOULD be a great country ballad, and you record it, drop me a line and let me know. I'd love to hear it. I wish Johnny Cash were still around.


Mama, just killed a man,
Put a gun against his head,
Pulled my trigger, now he’s dead,
Mama, life had just begun,
But now I’ve gone and thrown it all away-
Mama ooo,
Didn’t mean to make you cry-
If I’m not back again this time tomorrow-
Carry on, carry on, as if nothing really matters-

Too late, my time has come,
Sends shivers down my spine-
Body’s aching all the time,
Goodbye everybody, I’ve got to go-
Gotta leave you all behind and face the truth-
Mama ooo- (any way the wind blows)
I don’t want to die,
I sometimes wish I’d never been born at all-
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