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

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

The Spinners

Tonight’s the last night of the open mike at the bookstore near Ravenna Park that the kid and I have been singing at. The kid sang “Octopus’s Garden” and melted just about everybody. Luckily, he always wants me to go first. There were 38 people signed up, so I sang the shortest song I have, a song from a few weeks after the kid was born. I hadn’t played it in public before, besides a few parties. The whole lyric:

one and one makes one
what could be more fun?
one and one makes three
he’s a mystery
and we don’t know who he’ll be

God’s still saying, Let there be . . .
it’s still the First Day
and the Big Bang is Banging away . . .

People seemed to like it. They appreciated brevity, given the circumstance! And then the kid, like I said, melted them. It’s a melt-able song.

Oh what joy for every girl and boy
Knowing they’re happy and they’re safe

And the chord goes to minor on the word “safe,” with just a touch of foreboding, the acknowledgment that not all is safe, not everybody is safe, and I’d like to be safe, I’d like everyone to be safe -- a silly sappy deep and touching utopian vision -- in an octopus’s garden -- with you. And the utopia of the open mike -- everybody doing what they love, everybody rooting for each other. Some version of this assembly will be reconvening at a new location in a few weeks; sad that this location is closing but glad to have fallen in with the group.

* * *

On Valentine’s Day the local “quality rock” station played the Top Nine Most Romantic Songs As Voted On By Our Listeners. I like the station OK, but the list wasn’t mine! A power ballad by Journey was one of my favorites on the list -- a really nice song, something about arms (not weapons), that I thought, at the opening, might be a Barry Manilow song -- it wasn’t -- though Barry did invent the power ballad; or, if not invent it, gave it its basic form (minus the electric guitars); McCartney invented it. The only record on the list that I really love was by Etta James, singing a Harry Warren song from the ‘40s, “At Last.” Gorgeous record, great song. Glenn Miller’s version was a huge hit too and is almost as gorgeous, believe it or not, with a silken vocal from Ray Eberle.

My favorite romantic songs are the ones I’ve written for my beloved spouse because -- they seem to be working so far.

Other than that, as a listener, I have a lot of favorites; here is a provisional list. Fred Astaire belongs on it too; maybe next time.

9. “This Girl’s In Love With You” -- Dionne Warwick
“I heard some talk. They say you think I’m fine.”

8. “Could It Be Magic” -- Barry Manilow
Yes, it could.

7. “Sweet Love” -- Anita Baker
I was unhappy waiting tables when this song yearned gorgeous contentment on the radio.

6. “We’ll Run Away” -- the Beach Boys
A great creampuff masterpiece fantasy of marriage with an impossibly sweet surprise ending -- and may your dreams come true.

5. “The First Time That Ever I Saw Your Face” -- Roberta Flack
The awesomeness of love and passion.

4. “I Can’t Help Falling In Love With You” -- Elvis
We sang this at our wedding. The impetuosity -- only fools rush in -- and the inevitability -- like a river flows surely to the sea -- of love. And the ineluctable Elvisness of Elvis.

3. “The More I See You” -- Gloria Foster with Carmen Cavallero and His Orchestra
Unfiltered schmaltz. How I love it -- and love.

2. “It Could Happen to You” -- The Four Freshmen
It -- life, love, rapture -- can happen to you. Wow.

1. “Could It Be I’m Falling In Love” -- the Spinners
The delicious, almost painfully sweet delirium of love.

I forgot "More Than This" -- Roxy Music! And "Melt With You" by Modern English -- such a sweet song.

"Tell Me Something Good." Rufus with Chaka Khan.

The list . . . is . . . endless . . .
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