December 01, 2010

YOU COME UPON AN ANSWER CLEAR

From a long but well written bit about what it feels like to be really into one great Mekons song from 1978--the sounds and the feelings and why it matters to her, by Alexa Weinstein: "The voice is tight, half-yelling, and rangy. This guy sounds hurt, pissed, wide open, and entirely desperate. You start out thinking he’s singing to his girlfriend after she’s stood him up or cheated on him or left him, but by the end, you strongly suspect that this entire relationship exists only in his head. He’s singing to a woman he’s only seen across the bar. His longing is so naked that it has him angrily demanding love and marriage from a complete stranger, and already being surprised and hurt that he’s not going to get it. It’s sick and alarming, but so raw and honest that you have to admit it’s kind of beautiful.

Okay, so maybe this is what happens. Maybe the restlessness starts out on the drums, but when they’re about to settle into the verse beat, it jumps. Sensing the coming resolution in the music, and not yet satisfied, it takes a blind, flying leap and lands in the singer’s mouth. So that after that, even though the music has hit the triumphant crescendo where its two strains are reunited into one whole thing, there are still two unresolved strains, because the tension now exists between the voice and the music. You never start needing to hear a second part, because in this part, you get everything—a tense chemistry between the drums and the music, and then between the voice and the music, and the musical crescendo where the beauty and restlessness find a perfect balance—all at the same time. The consonance and the dissonance and the return to harmony, the setup and the conflict and the resolution, the beginning and the middle and the end. It’s all simultaneous. In a parallel universe close to ours, it is a six-minute song; you’re just hearing both halves at the same time. The simple structure is the only thing that could possibly have worked. This is how the one verse manages to carry you through the whole roller coaster, and you never wish for it to do anything else but start over at the end."

Posted by jessica hopper at December 1, 2010 01:18 AM | TrackBack