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Songs Are Ghosts Out Of Time

dischords in time

dischords in time

Working up the energy to review one of my favorite songs of all time, Barry White’s “You’re The First, The Last, My Everything” I got to thinking about when it was first released. The multi-layered production and thumping beat which however strong it might be still couldn’t be completely overwhelmed by White’s throbbing basso voce. I saw him live once just before he died and while he had to sit through the performance he was still pretty great.

So I sat down to write the story and suddenly a surge of nostalgia for the pre-punk Manchester of the early 70s, my college days, came over. That is something very very strange. I remembered, quite specific, slow dancing with a girl in the middle of the dancefloor at the footballer George Best’s nightclub “Slack Alice”. The strobe lights, the manager, a tall blonde guy who never made it as a footballer, the slow throb of desire and hope of new romance. It was, for me, a different world, though it is one I am sure is happening somewhere right now.

When you write about and listen to music all the time, it doesn’t hit you as a nostalgia trigger. When I less to Rubber Soul I don’t remember 1965. It leads me to believe that an aspect of music, the time when recorded aspect, is less important than we imagine. While the style of production might vary, the time when it was recorded hides the realness of the song. Songs are about songs, whoever you might be listening to and while the innovations of the 19th century might make what we knew as music in the 1700s obsolete, they didn’t make the songs themselves obsolete. You can sing em now. You can sing “Greensleeves” now. Wanna remix it and add a back beat? You can make it EDM. Wanna add a rap? Call Chance, he could do it easy.

The problem with music in the 2014 is that because of the ability of soundscaping, you can hide from actually making songs. Building them up from the bottom (meaning from the beat) a Dr. Luke can create a track but creating a track is not creating a song.

Songs are songs and time doesn’t infect songs as such, songs are born in time but exists on the margins (as is all recorded work), it floats in a different dimension in space literally, vibrations in the air. That’s what Mark E. Smith was getting at in “Psykick Dancehall” –that the voices are like ghosts from the past calling to us, but also, psychically like the chains of time on sound we respond through yours, eras lifetimes, where time and style can’t step on sound. Where nothing matters but the song.

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