Category Archives: Passions & Attitudes

The Unassumer: Bobby Charles, “Small Town Talk” (1972)

In 1972, the south Louisianan Bobby Charles had come to roost in Woodstock, New York, and could draw on members of The Band and their producer John Simon to get a dry, homey, Band-like vibe on his new album. A … Continue reading

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Around the Mouse: Walt Disney Records, “Mickey And Minnie On A Moonlit Night” (1987)

This is no secret and no new insight. Millions converge daily on the Disney Mouse for a reliable two-sided thrill — the youngest audience delighted by Mickey getting in and out of knockabout trouble, the sheer agency of it all, … Continue reading

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Creepiest Love Tropes #4, “Just the way you are” vs. Bryan Adams & Tina Turner, “It’s Only Love” (1985)

How creepy is this? The singing male lover pretends to reassure the female that she is fully lovable “just the way you are”; she needn’t worry about measuring up to some standard. It’s actually a threat: (1) if you differ by … Continue reading

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Outro #6: The Burr

What is the line that keeps you from ever getting comfortable? How can we sleep when our beds are burning? —Midnight Oil, 1987

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Candor and the Bridge: Frank Black & the Catholics, “Bullet” (2001)

“Take ’em to the bridge!” is James Brown’s hip direction to his band to start playing the twelve- or sixteen-bar section that contrasts with the main riff of “Sex Machine.” It’s an archetype of showmanship and pop candor. Compounding the … Continue reading

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Creepiest Love Tropes #3, “Our love”: The Beach Boys, “Wouldn’t It Be Nice” (1966)

When we talk about certain topics, something has already gone wrong. Time, for instance: if you have to refer to it (“Goodness! the time!”) you must have fallen out of the flow of getting things done. So too if you … Continue reading

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Outro #5: What is tuning in?

Thesis #1: the most important thing you have done in your music listening career, besides turning out for concerts and turning on your devices, is tuning in. Music does many catchy things to ingratiate itself. But there’s the Paradox of … Continue reading

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Joy: The Beatles, “Here Comes The Sun” (1969)

Easter 2018 This is a movie hook post that wants to become a music hook post. I’m starting with an image from Tarzan and His Mate (1934), one of a number of production stills in which Maureen O’Sullivan looks very happy indeed … Continue reading

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Outro #4: On Paying Tribute

What good does it do to pay tribute? What does it accomplish to declare to the world that you see the worth of something, that you thrill to it? The question seems pressing to me after my last post, which … Continue reading

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Great Love, “My man”: Laura Nyro, “Tom Cat Goodby” (1969)

What would it be like to hear real love in music? What would declare it adequately? Would there be a sound of ecstatic transport–soaring high notes, a fluttering up and down scales, Melisma City? Or would there be a sound … Continue reading

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