For Pat DiNizio (the sunglasses) 1955-2017
When did Pat most get to you? (Of course we’re talking about the band, not Pat alone.)
I bet some would answer, “The whole somber mass of Green Thoughts” (1988). I feel like that too. But for individual song highlights I go back to Especially For You (1986), and here my reach splits into two: for a lift and a ride, “Listen To Me Girl,” and for undoing my insides, “I Don’t Want To Lose You.”
“Listen To Me Girl” is all about triplets–that is, it makes extensive use of a simple polyrhythm of three notes evenly distributed across two beats. You get that triplet feeling that you’re skating over the groove at the end of each verse line (first heard at 0:20), nicely contrasting the stiff duple rhythm that prevails elsewhere, and in one or both halves of each verse lyric (“I’ve been so” at 0:22, etc.). (Compare the verse and guitar solo of “Drown In My Own Tears”  for a similarly effective use.)
The bridge (1:28) is almost all triplets:
Some – times I
won – der just
what she is (doing)
The best thing about this triplets song is that it delivers a triplet climax at the end. Starting at 2:18, the coda is all “Listen to me girl” repeating on relatively high notes, so that skating becomes flying. The primal plea becomes exultant. That’s the hook I wish to salute.
Now “I Don’t Want To Lose You” has that boom – bop-bop groove that moves us along happily, or would if the song were simply happy, which it’s not, though it’s not unhappy either. In the primary chord pattern I – bVII – V, we begin to be colored sad by the bVII but then we’re jollied by the good old dominant V (yet with the lingering knowledge that we didn’t go straight there).
At 0:30 we shift to a gorgeous secondary chord pattern. It’s the deeper-dark bVI of our original I, followed by the bIII of our original I, followed by the IV. In their own new scheme of things these chords figure as a bIII – bVII – I, treating that last chord as a I because we land on it so firmly.
This is where my knees buckle and I intensely wonder how I am feeling. I think it’s because there’s a swirl of bittersweet harmonic information in the superimposed identities of the chords.
That’s it. What a place to be.
Just as the first song makes me admit that “Listen to me, girl” is the thing I am always most passionately ready to say, “I don’t want to lose you” is the thing I am always scaredest of having to say.