On Hearing Things
Hello out there. I’m going to stretch myself right before your very eyes. By stretching myself I am referring to getting out of my comfort zone. I’m willing if you’re willing.
Have you ever had that sensation where, no matter how many times up to that point you have listened to said song, the track clicks deeply with your soul. You hear instruments that you never realized were present. Maybe a cough from the drummer way, waay back in the studio. Or that bit of chatter during the guitar solo. Then again maybe it’s just me.
Such as when you listened to Since I’ve Been Loving You by Led Zeppelin from their third album for the umpteenth time. At first, you feel the intro and you’re all in. Robert Plant begins to complain about his lover just above a whisper. James Patrick Page is mimicking Mr. Plant with guitar riffs that are soft and sweet. John Paul Jones on Hammond organ with a Leslie rotating speaker cab supplies a soft, supple bass line. And John Henry Bonham sure can keep it all together.
But someone must’ve let a cricket into the studio. You hear that cricket keep perfect time with Bonzo’s kick drum. Chirp-chirp. Chirp-chirp. Chirp-chirp. Chirp-chirp. Until you realize that the most likely scenario is that Mr. Bonham (or his tech) forgot to give the parts between the footboard, drive, rocker shaft and cam some lubrication.
Yet, this happy little accident kicks the track up to an almost ethereal level. Making the listener feel as if he/she is right there in the studio while Zepp do that voodoo that they do so well. After that, your life is forever changed by this tiny miracle.
Or about the time you hear this really good punk band (The Bombpops) drop lyrics that you never really thought they had in them. The song I’m going all ga-ga about is Watch Me Fold from their debut LP Fear of Missing Out.
I’ll go on record that this album and band are really good and they’re not too serious. Meaning that their lyrics don’t get too heavy and most songs of their catalog are upbeat, tempo-wise. And that’s great.
Watch Me Fold really crept up on me. The track is number eight in the listing. For the people who only listen to the first three or four tracks, they will miss this gem. But please don’t tell them. It’ll be our secret. The song is a swift kick in the pants and goes along at breakneck speed. When the song stops, it could almost give the listener whiplash.
The lyrics are the perfect counterpoint to the harsh and bold music. The lyrics deal with love itself being a gamble. The protagonist in the song admits she’s just “not in the cards” for her object of affection. She achingly realizes that she is in a very bad position. She also knows she’s willing to bet everything on this longshot of a relationship and lose. But for the longest time, I didn’t hear that. Nor did I put it all together.
Until last night.
I found myself going along with the track. The lyrics hit me hard. The lyrics made me think of Bob Seger singing Still the Same. Mr. Seger slays when he thinks back on his forlorn, gambling love: “You always said the cards will never do you wrong/The trick you said was never play the game too long.” Fuck-ing HELL! When it comes to the game love, these lyrics hit very hard.
But back to The Bombpops....
Now when this happens, I usually hit repeat at least four times. I like to be sure that this sudden infatuation is not a ruse. And thankfully, it was not a ruse. Another barometer of mine is if, after the second repeat, the track gets old, I’ll assume it was a lapse in judgement.
But no. This time was neither was the case. The song endeared itself to my soul even more. Of course, I smashed that rewind icon somewhere between 4 to 8 times. Come to think of it, the same thing happened when I came across their Summer of 2020 smash hit Sad to Me. I'm a sucker for two-part Veruca Salt-esque female harmonies.
This is why music will always be my go to source for all that is good. It's sad to think that living, breathing musicians creating wonderful pieces of art to be cherished for generations is becoming a rarity these days. No matter if it's the bass player talking about this guy she went to high school who liked to smash lady field hockey players or the drummer proclaiming: "That's the one, innit?". This, dear reader, is what dreams are made of.
Now I'm done.