September 9, 2012
There's something magic that happens after midnight. I'm not referring to the witching hour, though maybe it's related. Things are different to a mind that is not accustomed to being conscious at that time. It's more than a different frame of mind; it's like a separate reality. Thus it was for me last night when I couldn't sleep and I was listening to K.D. Lang's album, Drag.
I've owned the CD since around 1998 and the first song on it that struck me was The Air That I Breathe. I fell in love with that song immediately. I remember listening to it and literally forgetting to breathe, just listening to her voice carry the tune. When she sang, "Sleep, silent angel, go to sleep," then I'd come back to myself. It is almost a completely different song from the original Hollies' version, and perhaps it transcends comparison. I listened to it... a lot. For that reason I listened to the CD a lot. Some of the other songs kind of sneaked into my brain and sat there waiting. Theme from the Valley of the Dolls I also appreciated almost immediately. The others were just kind of very beautiful Other Songs helping to create a wonderful album.
Several years later, around the time that I went to a funeral for my mother's husband, I began to notice Till the Heart Caves In. "How much is not enough, how much is through? How long will I be getting over you? How much grief and sin, 'til the heart caves in?" That last line struck a cord with me as I watched my mother during the funeral and after.
A few nights ago I noticed that I have become very fond of My Old Addiction. I'm not gonna lie; I skipped over the song more than once. It's very slow. It's very different from your average pop tune. But man, when you're in the right mood the song is AMAZING. I did a little research and learned the origin of the song and that made it even more so. Its original title is Chet Baker's Unsung Swan Song and in it the writer, David Wilcox, tries to capture what was going through the musician's (Chet Baker) mind in the minutes leading up to his tragic and mysterious death. (He apparently fell from a 2nd story window and hit his head on the concrete. Cocaine and heroine were found in his system.) The song captures the turbulent life and takes us right up to the moment he leans out the window. I hate to use the same word twice in one post, but this song transcends music. I have never experienced a song the way I do this one, now that I've read about its creation.
So, last night when I couldn't sleep I put this song in and listened to it 3 or 4 times while I piddled around on the computer. When I got too occupied to set it to play again, the rest of the album played and eventually Hain't It Funny came on. Up until last night I didn't care for the song. But, last night – after the witching hour – I finally heard the muted trumpet. The song has a magic of its own – Lang's version, anyway, which is the only version I've heard or care to hear. It occurred to me that if I were listening to it as a person who DIDN'T speak English (I love listening to songs in languages that I don't speak or understand) then it would feel completely different. The lyrics aren't bad, but they don't speak to me much. The music and her voice, however, speak volumes. It's reminiscent of Miles Davis. Thanks to the magic of the post-midnight mindset I can appreciate this song in a way I never did before. I sat there at 2 in the morning and played it, then played it again.
It's a very special album that can fascinate you after you've already owned it for fourteen years. If you don't own it, perhaps you should check it out. Keep in mind that some of the songs can grow on you. At least give yourself the opportunity to be moved.