Carlene Carter, Every Little Thing

I’ve been listening to the new Brandy Clark album this week. Brandy is a country songwriter who has been trying to break as a performing artist. Her album 12 Songs I wrote about here a while back. The song Stripes is the kick ass fun number, but there’s lots of other good stuff on that album.

The new album has equally clever and direct songwriting, but it has some extra production patina and maybe some compressed audio to make it more contemporary radio friendly. Hard to argue with that. I’ll probably post about the song The Girl Next Door soon, since I’ve been playing it a ton.

But the funny thing about listening to Clark is that after a few songs play in the mix I get distracted and I start thinking about Carlene Carter.

Carter is the daughter of June Carter and her first husband Carl Smith. I’ve written about her here before. She has a big strong voice, and a terrific other voice as a songwriter. She was married to Nick Lowe for about ten years, and they made some terrific records together and others looking at each other. But the record that Brandy Clark pushed me toward is Little Love Letters, the 1993 record she made after Carter’s Lowe adventure was over.

It’s a terrific record, country in flavor and sentiment with a solid foundation of rock beat on the fast ones. Her constant collaborators here are Howie Epstein and Benmont Tench (both of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers), but she also writes a song with Bernie Taupin, and this one, Every Little Thing, with Al Anderson of NRBQ.

Is this a song of love, lust, or maybe something more unhinged?

Which reminds me of some other Every Little Thing songs.

The Police had this tune that kind of exposed them (or at least Gordon Sumner) as cheese balls. But the dysfunction of the narrator and the crazy calypso feel are for me irresistible. Yes, dismiss it as fodder, the video suggests the Police are just cranking out what they can, but at the same time it’s about a strong and creepy emotion that hasn’t been as well expressed since Every Breath You Take. Hmm. Or Don’t Stand So Close to Me. The Police were good at perversity, weren’t they?

And, of course, the Beatles have their own Every Little Thing.

The YouTube versions are all chopped up bootlegs, so not much pleasure in the listen, but there’s enough here to suggest that the Beatles too found in the expression Every Little Thing a bit of unhealthy obsession.

Maybe it’s the word Every that does it.