IGNORED OBSCURED RESTORED
Some time ago one of you responded to one of my weekly missives to say that week’s song was also on the All Music Guide critic Stephen Thomas “Tom” Erlewine’s Desert Island Singles list. On his allmusic.com bio page he provides a couple of other “lists” — The Usual Suspects — Boring Desert Island Discs I Still Love and The Real Desert Island List — Albums I Listen to More Than the Previous List.
I really relate to his taste in music. I especially respect his singles list. He fearlessly includes such “unhip” selections as Al Stewart’s “Time Passages” and Spandau Ballet’s “True” (a song I often closed with when I was a club DJ in the mid 80s).
At the end of his “lists” he creates up a bunch of “categories” and selects his own “winner.” Here are a few examples with my answers added in parentheses:
Favorite Music Books:
Shakey; The Last Party; No Sleep Til Hammersmith (Peter Guralnick’s Sweet Soul Music)
Chuck Berry; Nick Lowe; Ray Davies; Lowell George (Lennon/McCartney, Dylan, Ray Davies)
Singers Who Make Your Skin Crawl:
Patti Smith; Linda Perry (Stevie Nicks)
Artist You Will Always Defend:
The Rolling Stones (The Beatles)
Albums That You Will Always Defend:
Urge Overkill — Exit the Dragon; Menswear — Nuisance (Crowded House – Woodface)
Here’s the link if you want to check out the whole thing: Tom Erlewine’s AMG Bio
Australia’s Crowded House began as a trio (Neil Finn, Paul Hester and Nick Seymour) and recorded their first two albums in that configuration. For Woodface, Neil recruited his brother Tim Finn (formerly of Split Enz who had a hit with “I Got You” in 1980) who brought along a batch of songs and another terrific harmony voice. Add production help from Mitchell Froom and mixing expertise from Bob Clearmountain and there’s a decent chance the album will be pretty good.
The lyrics tell an interesting story but are vague enough to leave room for any number of interpretations.
Walking ’round the room singing Stormy Weather
At Fifty Seven Mount Pleasant Street
Well it’s the same room, but everything’s different
You can fight the sleep, but not the dream
Things ain’t cookin’ in my kitchen
Strange affliction wash over me
Julius Caesar and the Roman Empire
Couldn’t conquer the blue sky
Well, there’s a small boat made of china
It’s going nowhere on the mantelpiece
Well, do I lie like a lounge room lizard
Or do I sing like a bird released?
Everywhere you go, always take the weather with you
I’ve always thought of this as another in the long line of break up songs. “The same room, but everything’s different” is the feeling we all experience when someone we love is no longer present. And who among us hasn’t lost sleep after losing a lover? Then again I could be totally off base!
I’m also intrigued by the song’s form/structure. It opens with vaguely Eastern sounding chords and rolls into the first verse with Beatle like harmonies. Next it moves into a second verse with a totally different melody. (Some might call it a bridge, but I wouldn’t.) The third verse is just like the first but it’s a little more complicated. In the final “movement” the song title is repeated numerous times. It could be tedious, but not in the hands of this band. They arrange it in such a way that you hardly notice.
I again refer you to Spotify to check out the rest of the album, especially “Chocolate Cake,” “It’s Only Natural,” “Fall At Your Feet,” and “Four Seasons In One Day.”
Enjoy… until next week.