The Church Of Me
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Kissing in the churchyard, I know a righteous woman

Monday, October 30, 2006

I note in passing that this was the penultimate Top 20 that BS Johnson would have lived to see. Not that he had anything but contempt for pop, but I think even BSJ would have found some of this list to his liking.

20. Nazareth – This Flight Tonight
Bizarre hard-rock adaptation of one of the quietest expressions of pain and grief in music (near the end of Joni’s holy Blue). Points to Dunfermline’s finest for trying, but in reality they were missing the point.

19. Carpenters – Top Of The World
Never my favourite Carpenters tune, nor indeed theirs; but constant radio airplay necessitated a 45 remix and it went top five here and became their third American number one. Slightly too unambiguously MoR for my tastes, but it is always heartbreaking to hear Karen feeling – or being – unreservedly happy.

18. Max Bygraves – Deck Of Cards
Not played, for which I can only thank the Lord; you’d think it impossible to make Wink Martindale’s original (which was also skulking around the lower regions of the Top 40, on its third chart visit) even blander, but Max managed it, to the extent of replacing the original melody with Geoff Love trademark sloppy gloop and even losing the tagline of “And friends, I was that soldier” with “All the charges against the soldier were dismissed.” So bloody British, so 1973 – or was it still 1943?

17. Bob Dylan – Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door
Those who think Modern Times is Dylan writing his obituary – and there are those who forget that he is still only 65 – would do well to remember that he was already drafting it three decades ago. Of course, in the film it also serves the context of an obituary for an entire way of life; Pat Garrett knows he has to kill the culture, even though he knows that he will be killed in doing it. That slow river, that never slower Peckinpah…everything draining away in quietude of red. Oh yes, BSJ would have understood this one in a second.

16. Electric Light Orchestra - Showdown
This marked Lynne’s first effort to get away from updating “I Am The Walrus” and taking on Philly in the blue-eyed soul stakes. But he still can’t get it quite right – and that’s why it works; those strings are still slithering and phasing in and out like 1968 deferred, and nasal Jeff was never going to be Teddy Pendergrass. “It’s raining all over the world.” Apparently the studio doorman told him, on the way out, “That’s a touch of class, is that.”

15. Michael Ward – Let There Be Peace On Earth (Let It Begin With Me)
Dale didn’t remember this record at all, and thus didn’t play it. However, I do; he was a 14-year-old choirboy who won Opportunity Knocks, and it accordingly sounds like a fragment from a long-lost episode of Songs Of Praise. Of the mini-wave of would-be child stars around this period, however, it’s nowhere near as spooky as “Milly Molly Mandy” by Junior Showtime’s Glyn Poole (to be found at that week’s #42 position), which the unwary could mistake for an outtake from the second Psychic TV album.

14. Isley Brothers – That Lady
Strangely, Dale didn’t remember the original 1963 (not 1964) “Who’s That Lady?” either. But what a butterfly emerging out of the chrysalis; vocals succulent and purring, Ernie Isley’s post-Jimi guitar still sounding beamed in from 2013.

13. Bobby ‘Boris’ Pickett & the Crypt Kickers – The Monster Mash
12. Sweet – The Ballroom Blitz

Neither was played, as they were both dropping down the chart, but an apt coupling; Pickett’s piece of Kim Fowley-ish hokum owed its belated British success, as I recall, in part to Noel Edmonds on Radio 1, and also in part to Viv Stanshall’s rendition with the Bonzos (which I always preferred). Meanwhile, “The Ballroom Blitz” – a sexy and raunchy and wonderful cardboard apocalypse.

11. Detroit Spinners – Ghetto Child
Both group and Thom Bell very close to their best; they wear the song’s complexity as lightly – all those tricky tempo changes, shifting bar line divisions and divided lead vocals – as the message which it’s delivering. “Made to feel ashamed just for being born,” “Punished for a crime that was not mine.” Christie Malry would have understood. One of the very few singles of the period unreservedly loved by myself and both of my parents.

10. Bryan Ferry – A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall
Whereas this second slice of Dylan sounds like a real apocalypse. A genius stroke for Ferry to croon it as a jaded lounge-lizard lament for decadence, since he draws out the underlying immense power of the song, both musically and verbally – so often does Dylan’s genius reveal itself more readily in the hands of astute interpreters. As he wearily views the world burning, David O’List’s increasingly fractious lead guitar commentary simply burns, and the string section veer between proto-Nyman and the Grand Old Opry.

9. Ike & Tina Turner – Nutbush City Limits
Rather wearied by over-familiarity and knowledge of what was really going on with them, but still a powerful and unexpected hit; the whining Moog throughout is as futuristic as Ernie Isley’s space guitar.

8. David Bowie – The Laughing Gnome
Face facts; Decca had lost the Stones, were about to lose Tom Jones, were generally going nowhere and therefore can’t really be blamed for exploiting their back catalogue. However, no amount of foreknowing irony can fabricate a work of art out of this sub-Newley piece of cacky novelty, and signs would point to Bowie having similar feelings.

7. Perry Como – For The Good Times
The warm fire, the cosy home, the relationship about to end, the resigned sigh, the approaching shades of terminal autumn. They’re doomed but will enjoy the last sups from the glass before it empties forever. Written by Kris Kristofferson, and in a 1973 context best viewed as the reverse side of, or parallel to, Marvin’s “Just To Keep You Satisfied.”

6. Elton John – Goodbye Yellow Brick Road
The opening “When are you gonna come DOWN?” suggests a Gilbert O’Sullivan tribute. The song is all about disillusion with big and shiny things and hollow people and returning to the singer’s humble hamlet, back to the land and to love. It is appropriately epic in its farewells and quite poignant in its harmonies, though you know, deep down, that Elton would never countenance doing such a thing.

5. Status Quo - Caroline
Though already five years into their chart career, this is the first real example of The Status Quo Single as we know and cherish it, and still I think stands up as their best, since it is the template, despite the subsequent decades of minimal modifications which they have applied to it.

4. David Bowie - Sorrow
Thus we have Bowie, recorded in ’66 and charting in ’73, and Bowie, charting in ’73 and singing something originally recorded in ’66. Note the “with your long blonde hair” sustenato and that he never actually finishes the song, leaving it, as with so much else, hanging in his own unique mid-air.

3. Slade – My Frend Stan
The only Slade single in their annus mirabilis not to make number one, and it was a deliberate and rather muted break from the norm. Norm? “And by the way you blacked my eye/I know that you’re the reason why.” Non-sequiturs worthy of Oasis on a good (1995) day.

2. Simon Park Orchestra – Eye Level (Theme From Van Der Valk)
Were TOTP still going, they would probably just show some video clips now, but then would something like this get anywhere near the charts of 2006? A jolly, sweeping, Straussian and clearly catchy orchestral romp from an extremely popular (and extremely quiet) detective series; Park brought his full-sized orchestra on TOTP and solemnly conducted them. Quite right, too. BSJ probably watched at least one episode.

1. David Cassidy – Daydreamer/The Puppy Song
Dale played “Daydreamer,” as he always does – does POTP’s producer think the Nilsson cover pervy? – and as always it is the beginning of George Michael; hushed, breathy tones over shimmering electric piano chords meditating on lost love. But where the hell did that recorder solo at the end spring from?

posted by Marcello Carlin Permalink
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Monday, October 23, 2006

A brief explanation is in order; firstly of the
programme, which used to be the BBC’s main singles chart rundown show. Presented by Alan Freeman, the original series ran from 1962-72, following which it was succeeded by the Solid Gold Sixty show and subsequent variations on the basic Top 40 countdown model. The name was then revived in the ‘80s, firstly on Capital Radio and then on Radio 2, the show’s aim now being to count down a Top 20 from that particular week in a previous year.

Currently the programme is broadcast on BBC Radio 2 on Sunday afternoons, between 3:30-5:00 pm, and hosted by Dale Winton. In most ways Winton is the ideal choice of compere for Pick Of The Pops in 2006; active as a DJ and mainstream radio and TV broadcaster since the ‘70s, he is extremely camp but does not need to remember Sontag’s dictum that camp has to take itself with absolute seriousness. Given my own dismal memories of Radio 1 in my youth, a world of feeble fantasy where every record was great, Winton is just about the only broadcaster who could tell me that every record IS great, and I’d believe his sincerity, even if I didn’t agree with his opinions.

In May this year I began an impromptu weekly rolling thread on ILM analysing the Top 20 featured on that Sunday’s edition. It must be emphasised that the first 30 of the programme’s 90 minutes are devoted to climbers and new entries from lower down in that week’s Top 40, together with new releases (the choice is usually and commendably unpredictable) and a track from that week’s number one album. But I confine myself, on the grounds of spurious historical objectivity (because I want to look at history as it actually happens), to the show’s remaining hour, which counts down the Top 20. Unless the chart is taken from the very early sixties, where singles were so short that twenty could easily fit into an hour, the Top 20 is not played in full, though the top ten usually is, provided there is no Gary Glitter record present.

I enjoyed writing on that thread; it was an opportunity to experiment with opinions and ideas in a way which didn’t quite fit in with CoM, and it was also something of an oasis in the increasingly feral world of ILM, a throwback, even, to the forum’s earlier and more pleasant days.

However, as of this week I am transferring my weekly POTP observations to CoM. I had hoped to be able to avoid doing so, since among other things it precludes worthwhile and friendly commentary from friendly readers. I have felt compelled to move it off ILM, partly because of the increasingly unreliable ILM server, which at present is crashing on average about once a week, and irritatingly usually on Mondays.

But far more importantly, as demonstrated by this extremely sad farrago, I have recently felt less and less compelled to post anything on ILM; the board seems to be drowning under a tsunami of careerist trolls, fevered egos, sociopathic inadequates and assorted other malcontents and bullies with bipolar free passes to whom the board moderators appear unwilling or unable to apply even basic regulation, monitoring or discipline, which makes me reluctant even to look at New Answers, a pre-emptive weary yawn anticipating (usually correctly) the ill-conceived drivel that each thread is likely to provoke. After due deliberation I’ve decided that I’m not prepared to throw gallons of effort and resources into compiling this stuff on a weekly basis only to watch them being trashed by vultures (and all for free, too! I wonder how dramatically the standard of posts on ILM would improve if posters were charged for each post they made). My life is pretty damn good at the moment, and there is no space in it for this kind of unnecessary stress. Similarly this is why I am not opening the comments boxes on CoM; the brief experiment in doing so on Koons proved that all such things are likely to be overrun by spammers and trolls sooner rather than later.

This week, POTP featured the Top 20 of the week ending 25 October 1980 – 1980 again, so soon after Brighton Pier! Is time speeding by? I hope so, since this means that January isn’t far away. In the meantime, let us look at the following list with the kind of resignation which accompanies the cast iron belief that the only way in which human beings aren’t going to finish by tearing each other up towards extinction is to treat each other with a basic level of respect.

20. Air Supply – All Out Of Love
The only major British hit for the Australian Billboard Hot 100 perennials; soapy, portentous balladry which I’m sure whoever wins this year’s X-Factor will be roped in to cover.

19. Adam & the Ants – Dog Eat Dog
The beginning of time; up from the previous week’s 37 after one of the most extraordinary performances ever to be witnessed on Top Of The Pops, and which would most likely be banned now under health and safety regulations; theatrical, pilfering and profound, it felt as though this rock and roll thing was new once again. And from, of all people, Adam and the Ants, turning McLaren’s Burundi model back on him and demonstrating a far greater understanding of the pop. “For Your Love” via Barry, Morricone, Glitter, Roxy and the Roxy. Still sounds mindbendingly new.

18. Thin Lizzy – Killer On The Loose
17. Linx – You’re Lying
16. Black Slate – Amigo
Dale passed on playing any of these, which is fine by me with regard to Lynott’s foolish rape fantasy, just as the hunt for the Yorkshire Ripper was reaching crisis pitch (and the “ladykiller” excuse was no excuse at all) and Black Slate’s nondescript pop-reggae (would that it had been “Warrior Charge” or “Youth Of Eglington” instead), but Linx’s first hit was and is one of the sleekest and most gorgeous exemplars of the New Wave of Britfunk – so light, so serious.

15. Bad Manners – Special Brew
Oafish 2-Tone ambulance chasers en route to the top three with Buster Bloodvessel comparing his true love to a can of lager. Romance, don’t you just love it? Garry Bushell certainly loved them.

14. Stevie Wonder – Masterblaster (Jammin’)
13. Coffee – Casanova

Dale didn’t play either of these; the second of three Wonder tribute singles to stall at number two, and to me a rather forced Marley salute (interesting and instructive to note that within his lifetime Marley never climbed higher in the British singles chart than number five); and a by-the-book piece of slinky female funk-pop-disco.

12. Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark – Enola Gay
Now this is how to do pop entryism – a cheerful, upbeat singalong about the Hiroshima bombings. From the very fine Organisation album with its two setpieces; the immense “Statues” and astonishing “Stanlow”; slightly and inevitably in the shadow of Closer, but it still shouldn’t be overlooked.

11. Diana Ross – My Old Piano
The sexiest record in this chart; with Diana’s baby grand, who needs a vibrator? Chic still full of punctum – note those subtle Basie touches in Robert Sabino’s piano solo.

10. George Benson – Love x Love
More sublime use of space from Quincy Jones, even though the song isn’t quite up to the par set by “Give Me The Night.”

9. Nolans – Gotta Pull Myself Together
God, this sounds done on the cheap. Dale on the Nolans (I say!): “They were nice to watch on TOTP, all dancing together, except from that one at the end who couldn’t quite keep up with the others…sorry Colleen, only joking!” Or is he?

8. Sweet People – …Et Les Oiseaux Chantaient (…And The Birds Were Singing)
An extremely odd piece of French ambient orchestral MoR from 1978 (with birdsong) which amazingly now sounds like a Badalamenti outtake from the soundtrack of Twin Peaks. Its belated success was Noel Edmonds’ doing, but I still harbour considerable affection towards it.

7. Odyssey – If You’re Looking For A Way Out
This ballad was the most atypical of the periodic hits they enjoyed in Britain between 1978-82 (though possibly also the least adventurous). They make a better job of it than Tindersticks did on their lamentable cover version, but as always with Odyssey I find the lead singer’s harsh contralto rather offputting – and no, Dale, it doesn’t tug at my heartstrings.

6. Matchbox – When You Ask About Love
Showaddywaddy and Shaky, yes, but I always forget about the missing link; as I recall this lot briefly had a modicum of credibility (or was that Whirlwind, whom my school chum Andrew thought were brilliant?) but by the time of this depressingly popular and bland cover version I wondered whether they actually still did think it was 1962. Hardly Darts, were they?

5. Madness – Baggy Trousers
This is turning out to be one of those okayish lists with nothing much to get one’s teeth into. Laura always reckoned “Baggy Trousers” to be Madness’ shark-jumping moment, and I can’t say I disagree with her on this evidence; chirpy, matey Madness were always far less interesting to me than miserabilist, doomed Madness. But then I’m not Phill Jupitus.

4. Status Quo – What You’re Proposing
Notably far more trebly and light than the last time we heard them on POTP (“Whatever You Want” from just 12 months previously) with what sounds like a ceilidh band rehearsing in the next room. Nonetheless, credit due to Parfitt and Rossi for rhyming “runny-nosing” with “proposing.”

3. Police – Don’t Stand So Close To Me
The T-shirt striptease! “That book by Nabokov”! Even that ambient Joy Division drone at the beginning and the Luftwaffe of string synths which invade the instrumental break didn’t dispel the increasingly tedious Police formula…and all this after Sting in the NME had convinced Morley that the next Police record was going to be “seriously off.” Still, it was the biggest-selling single of 1980 and proved to Sting how little effort he really had to make. Does that explain the subsequent quarter-century?

2. Ottowan – D.I.S.C.O.
Daft Punk’s parents (or at least one of them) being heavily ironic about the naffness of their music. The epitome of ILM “Do You Hate Fun?”ism. Sometimes shit is just shit. Note their difficulty in finding alliteration for the letter “C.”

But “That book by Nabokov”!!

1. Barbra Streisand – Woman In Love
It was at around this time that the Bee Gees (for various reasons, but mainly legal ones) began to concentrate on writing for other singers. And Barry Gibb gave Barbra her only UK number one. “I stumble and fall, but I give you it ALL!” Oh it is exquisite…hymnal in its procedural, willing to worship and be worshipped (“What do I do?”). Streisand could sing Ayn Rand and make you believe her (except that Streisand commendably never sings anything she doesn’t believe). “We may be oceans away – but you feel my love, I hear what you say.” Oh YES!!!! It’s beautiful, you’re beautiful and the time is getting closer when the oceans will be banished from our life, except those which we ourselves create.

posted by Marcello Carlin Permalink
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Friday, October 13, 2006

From her recent Q&A interview on Exclaim!, I learned that Emily Haines’ father had passed away in the middle of compiling a mixtape. Perhaps it says something terrible about my attitude to loss that I am far too keen to know what was on that tape, or at least what had already been put on it. Even without a tracklisting I know that it would have been an adventurous compilation, full of unexpected twists and rapturous serendipity.

Being slow to catch on to things in general, it wasn’t until Lena reminded me recently that I realised that Emily’s father was Paul Haines, the man whose poetry inspired the greatest music ever made – need I remind you, at this late stage, what that is? – and yet again it seems so apt, so unique and so tremendously affecting that we should now have his daughter’s first solo album, an album moreover which not only bears a characteristically affectionate sleevenote from Robert Wyatt (if we’re talking about musicians who have never made a bad record in their lives), in which he pinpoints her magic with subtle artfulness ("She slips around the edge of the stage, almost disappears, keeps to the shadows like her parents taught her, then is suddenly positioned right beside your ear") and dedications to both Robert and to Carla, but is housed in a sleeve which pays explicit homage to that of Escalator Over The Hill. Moreover, one of its songs is entitled "Detective Daughter," a clear reference to Escalator’s "Detective Writer Daughter" in which Haines grapples with her legacy as mirror image over whole tones and emerges, bruised but cautiously triumphant ("Detective daughter copy – please don’t be me…/To thy self be true"). The Bley original ends in a heroin double entendre ("Everybody it seemed was killing horses").

Knives Don’t Have Your Back, as you can tell from its title, is more interested in salvaging lives than ending them. It is a quiet, considered but very, very hurt record – it’s scarcely surprising that work on it began shortly after her father’s death, and continued on and off for four years – which could fairly be described as one song divided into eleven movements; slow, thoughtful and probing but mournful piano melodies and a voice hushed but defiant. It may be a surprising offering from someone responsible for one of 2006’s most sheerly exultant releases – Metric’s Live It Out, an anxious and enraged but thrusting and energising record – but the emotions behind that album are deepened by the knowledge that she was working on this at the same time, collaborating with various sympathetic colleagues, including fellow Metrician Jimmy Shaw, Broken Social Scene’s Justin Peroff and Evan Cranley from Stars.

It is very definitely the first record of this autumn; have you noticed how moods, hues and angles alter and modify in music released in autumn? There are regretful echoes, intimations of finality, the echo on the piano the aural equivalent of the unusually golden (verging on brown) sun shades of October, approaching darkness. All of these weigh discreetly on this Soft Skeleton; "Our Hell" could be a slow-burning anthem of Tori Amos proportions except that Haines holds her emotion back amid crashing worlds ("My throat will ache, watching you turn/From me toward your friends") until the guitar lines become slowly heavier under the piano, more troubled and discordant. Strings are used in the sublime "Doctor Blind" – a warning against facile panaceas, by the tone of its words ("My baby’s got the lonesome lows/Don’t quite go away overnight/Doctor Blind just prescribe/The blue ones") – and with its devastating, swooping chord changes, the ethereal wonder once glimpsed in the early work of Goldfrapp attains its fullest promise. Similarly, a cascade of strings descends like a hastily pulled-back shower curtain which turns out to be made of acid at the beginning of "The Lottery," a rueful meditation on the tragedy which can’t quite be wiped out by general progress; despite the advances made by women, there remain those less-than-confident ones, the ones who will never quite fit in – such anguish in Haines’ cry of "Will we always be like little kids running group to group asking who loves me?" as the strings burn beneath her like the bras of her forebears. Elsewhere a Bley-ish, drunkenly loping horn chart drives the deep-soul-gone-white torch simmer of "Mostly Waving" (a mordant Stevie Smith variant with stinging rejoinders – "Don’t elaborate like that/You’ll frighten off the frat boys"). Both strings and horns blend to marvellous effect on the bemused but bereft "Reading In Bed"; as she wonders "With all the luck you’ve had/Why are your songs so sad?" – and then a blanket of violins and a compassionate French horn enter to console her burned, bluer soul.

The truest and deepest elements of the record, of course, arrive when it’s just (or mainly) Haines alone at the piano, and it’s here that Knives Don’t Have Your Back comes closest to being the intact link between Kate Bush’s "A Coral Room" and Cat Power’s You Are Free – especially on the shattering "Crowd Surf Off A Cliff." With just a hint of Leslie cabinet and Wurlitzer distortion, Haines circles in closer and closer, smaller and smaller, more and more painfully, on the song’s central axis of "Rather give the world away than wake up lonely," and it keeps coming back to that "I wake up lonely" again and again, as the chords break your heart and mind. As with Cat Power, she concentrates on small-scale, cyclical piano roundelays, all the better to foreground the emotions she is striving to articulate. All the way through, though, she tries to escape – "If you find me, hide me," "When you ‘phone me, tell me everything I did" – but those chords and those four words keep recurring like a nightmare of emotional microdevastation. No, we are not very far away from Sister Lovers.

…and all throughout the record, and emphasised or coloured in the booklet, are those "aaaaaahhhhhhhhh"s and "ooooooohhhhhh"s; like her father’s words for Escalator, they are not always articulated, but you are never allowed not to be reminded of their importance…
There are moments of bleak humour, as on "The Maid Needs A Maid" where Haines sardonically proclaims "Bros before hos is a rule/Read the guidelines" before swimming into a superficially lovely but Dorothy Parker-barbed plea for her own maid ("You won’t need a real job because I would love to pay for you"). And, on the crucial song "Nothing & Nowhere" she muses over keys minor about moving on and what a person really is ("Apartments are cages/I still don’t know what is permanent") before her voice and piano sweep so naturally and beautifully into a passionate major key declaration: "Some say our life is insane, but it isn’t insane on paper" – on those last three words she turns upwards and you have to kiss and embrace her. And that final, past-anguished "ask" ("Some say our life is insane but it isn’t insane to have to ask") is sustained and finally absorbed into sustained guitar feedback and freeform accordion trills.

And then there are the final two songs, in themselves such a stunning mini-suite of loss and redemption – "The Last Page" where, again over a desolate cycle of piano chords, turning in and in on itself like me in the bedroom in Oxford after it happened, she sings of escaping from "reality" to dreams of one now irretrievably lost – "Hover through the foggy vapors till I see you in a dream singing animals to sleep/By the way, it's over without you…/I’m leaving for a place from another time/Just to be near you" – and it still brings back those five autumns of mourning; how many times did I wake up like that and not want to wake up?

"Don’t become the one you hated" (it’s again) "Death is absolutely safe. A billion bibles mark the last page." At that juncture guitar and drums come in, almost bullying Haines into staying alive. Her cycle becomes more tormented: "Got to roll through the days/weeks/months without you here/I get a shock, shock hurts to heal" which she sings again and again and twists and sobs and shouts (variously) as though forcibly dragging herself back to her cylinder of moral oxygen. It still isn’t loud or harsh – nothing on this record rises much above moderate volume, though the decibel range of its emotional volume is boundless – but you can sense the prodding, the pushing, the urging, and you think: how not to become BSJ, how not to scream a shrug and end it because of some misguided arrogance that the world’s not good enough for your needs and your needs alone (he had, for fuck’s sake, a wife and two kids! It WASN’T just for him! But then Michael Bannard...), how to get back, to drag yourself, or allow yourself to be gladly dragged, out of the mess of mourning…and I KNOW that if it hadn’t been for you I would now be listening to this and feeling the same horrid, hollow gulf of nothingness that I knew far too bloody well, but the fact is now I listen to this and it tells me…

"Some part of you, too small to lose."

"The Winning" is the last track, and it’s the way out, and it caresses and cushions my soul with its unutterable generosity and promise…my God, Emily is so compassionate here…"Open your chest and take the heart from it"…"All of us, all of you counting to the last breath we take"…and then she sings, to me, and it is you singing to me, my loved one:

"What’s bad? We’ll fix it.
What’s wrong? We’ll make it alright, alright.
It’s gone, we’ll find it.

(compare with "The life that you thought through is gone" from "Crowd Surf Off A Cliff")

Takes so long, we’ve got time, all the time."

She is singing in my ear and she feels like we do ("We don’t know how to help, only know how to hound" she says of The World In General) and…"When you talk can I tape you?" and once again HOW DID SHE KNOW? and finally, and majestically, a regal princess indeed: "Don’t even visit that place, they’ll sharpen their teeth on your smile." After the minutest but vastest of pauses she returns, "I’m glad you didn’t. All our songs will be lullabies in no time."

And the way she sings it, and the beautiful, so childishly simple piano melody she plays behind it, makes me feel anything but alone…I don’t do "alone" any more, though God and you know that I still recognise it…it’s you and me, two souls together, each repairing the other, and it doesn’t matter whether THEY don’t know the extent of the damage but we know it in our bones, know that we have made each other whole again, and book or no book, what does it matter…what matters is you and me, married, sitting together, more alive and happy than anyone else on this planet, in our new home, peace and hope at last, and we’ve got each other and therefore have everything we will ever need…and it’s soft, soft, so soft, and everything has come back so softly and tenderly and profoundly…so the knives don’t have our back, never have done; what Emily Haines tells us is that we walk free from the wounds, and those wounds heal with gorgeous mutuality ("All of our scars are permanent…I’ll always love you, you’re mine" she sings on "Nothing & Nowhere," i.e. everything & everywhere)…and she gives us this hope, she doesn’t end it all, in fact is beginning it all…cherish her and the people and music which helped to create her, as those same people and that same music helped to create me…nearly thirty-five years later, exactly when I needed it, and I didn’t even have to call for it, it just came, knowing it was needed…that Escalator climbs back up to me and I step on it and at the top I fall and melt into you, welcoming and so, so fine and glorious.

posted by Marcello Carlin Permalink
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