Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Song for a Crappy Tuesday (February Covers Edition)

There is no way you are getting out here without taking something with you.

Towards the end of your visit with the Sisters of February Tuesdays, the anticipation of this creeps up through your stomach muscles. You wonder what it will be this time. Last year, it was three Tupperware containers full of aspic meat molds. In 2008, you left with 18 LP's of synthesized Mozart reinterpretations (each with a boudoir photo on the cover of a 1960's model dressed as a 1760's courtesan, her powdered wig askew and the laces on her corset loosened.) In 2004, it was a bucket full of tennis balls. ("You play tennis, don't you?" "Um...No." "You will. These can't go to waste.") Used camera flashbulbs, a sack of Spuds MacKenzie Spring Break '88 tee-shirts, Noxema.

These things find their way to your closet or freezer. You cannot bring yourself to throw them away, but you won't use them either.

Your time has come to bid them farewell. The Sisters rise, each reaching out and clutching your wrists with their boney fingers, the soft petals of their ancient skin pressing into yours. Comfort and Unease saturate you at once.

They guide you to the front door and open it out into the chilled air. The Eldest Sister delivers a nearly simian pat on the forehead. "Now you get along now. Get along before we all start to cry like a bunch of old ladies." She smiles and the four of them caw their farewells.

On the sidewalk, you realize that you have escaped without any dubious treasures. No Mismatched salt and pepper shakers, no Walter Mondale Campaign buttons. For a second, you are hurt.

The bus arrives a the corner. Stepping up you reach into your pocket for your wallet to discover a lumpy plastic bag. You pull it out. Inside it are 40, maybe 50, fast food soy sauce packets, and one solitary packet of dijonnaise.

Paul McCartney was my favorite Beatle. Okay? I said it. McCartney was the king of the hook, the tight as a drum arrangement, lyrics with laser precision. The perception floats around that McCartney was a commercial worker bee, while Lennon was the real musical genius. This is pretty short sighted. (It burns me up when I've admitted to liking McCartney more and the response is, "Well, he WAS the cute one." As if his relative cuteness was the deciding factor.)

Now, don't get me wrong. I think McCartney without Lennon tended to go off into more sentimental territory. Part of the glory of the Lennon/McCartney relationship was that each provided ballast for the other. Lennon would delve into metaphysical psychedelic worlds, while McCartney's imagery was more hardwood and three dimensional (Contrast Eleanor Rigby and Tomorrow Never Knows from the album Revolver. Or the differing styles in their collaboration A Day in the Life - which, as a matter of interest, is my favorite Beatles song of all time. I heard it for the first time when I was eleven and it may have altered the course of my personality forever.).

But, after all the saying and doing, I'm more of a McCartney fan. His song Got to Get You Into My Life, is fantastic reason why. What an emmer effing BUILD. It starts out with a brass section (usually a heralding sound) and then falls into a a confused sounding plod of lyrics as he describes how drab his life was before encountering this new and different thing. The Chorus explodes with an exuberant holler "GOT TO GET YOU INTO MY LIFE!"

I've heard that this song was actually about Pot. Which, at first bothered me. But upon further listening, I didn't really care. It can be about anything new - a person, a song, an experience. Part of McCartney's genius is that he could write about Elmer's Glue and wind up offering expansive insights.

Then we head into some fraught territory: The Beatles Cover. Plenty have attempted it, plenty have failed - and not even spectacularly. Mostly, they just wind up sounding like a Beatles knock off.

Got to Get You Into My Life was tailor made for Earth, Wind and Fire to cover. With their brass funk boogie sounds (Songs like Boogie Wonderland, September, and Let's Groove) it would almost be a crime not to.

Where they succeed is taking this song and elevating it with their own style. It's not ostensibly different, but there's not mistaking that this is EWF. (It was also featured in "Sgt. Pepper Lonely Hearts Club Band", perhaps one of the most unfortunate films ever made. Anyone up for a Triple Feature of this, "The Warriors" and "Xanadu"?)

This cover is definitely on my Beach Road trip jams of '77-'84. When I hear this song, I can almost smell the salt air and suntan lotion.

1 comment:

S. E. Johnson said...

I know I commented on a different version of this, but rereading it today reminded me: For a while, my college radio show featured nothing but Beatles covers.

I had to change formats not long after, of course, and not just because an apparently-endless number of frat boys called up to request REM's "Superman."

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