Tuesday, April 11, 2006

not about music, not about love

I wanted to write about Nat King Cole, about the sublime song ‘L is for the way’.

I wanted to write about the smooth sparse vocals, the empty sound of voice, piano and cymbals and the way that the long, low notes of the violins enter the first verse, the soft sliding trumpet instrumental over a restrained big band sound, and the way that the solo continues quietly in the background of the second verse while the double bass comes in. How the trumpet notes in the second verse underpin the letters in the lyric, building to a big hit at ‘anyone’; and how the mention of love in the second verse signals the moment when the song finally lets loose and runs away to it’s big, wild, passionate musical conclusion. How it’s two minutes and twenty nine seconds of heaven.

I wanted to write about how the words mean almost nothing when you listen to them: L is for the way you look at me. O is for the only one I see. V is very, very extra-ordinary. E is even more than anyone that you adore. Hardly Shakespeare. Hardly means anything at all. How that makes the song even better, somehow.

I wanted to write about how the song epitomises romance for me, how the music sweeps me up and along, how I love to dance to or sing along with it because I feel as though I am in the music; experiencing the romance. I wanted to write about how I recently realised that I’d spent a lifetime chasing that feeling of romance, and how I came to the conclusion that perhaps it had been a mistake, the act of someone who hadn’t yet grown up, who was living in a fantasy world which involved more grinding lows than it did sweeping highs. How life was not about romance and ‘we were meant to be together’, but about paying the car repair bill and going to work, about planting primulas and going to the cinema with your friends. How this depressed me terribly because when you’ve spent your life chasing invisible sparkle then the world without it seems lonely and flat and dull. How taking photographs and laughing with my friends and pumping up my bicycle tyres has gone some way towards rehabilitating me, and about how maybe, just maybe it’s going to be OK after all.

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