John Hiatt’s All of a Sudden (1982) is a very good lost album that from our perspective doesn’t sound like the future of John Hiatt or of anything. It’s New Wave pop in a post-Huey Lewis sort of way—hooky as all get-out and never less than interesting to listen to, but disposable. I, at least, find it so, except for one track not to be forgot, the oddly spooky-and-jaunty “Something Happens.”
You know how we say a song has gotten under our skin? There’s a point in the first line of “Something Happens” where Hiatt audibly burrows down through the skin. His voice goes indeterminately low and plants obscure suction cups. Relishing this moment has a uniquely implosive feeling.
Later in the verse he puts a similar figure up in a normal register so you can experience it as melody, but that first time around it’s a strange submelodic life-form. It’s not clear what, but it’s palpable where: something is happening just beyond, or rather just within, the border of the skin.