Saturday, 6 December 2014

Rattling Walls

"It Makes No Difference" by The Band
This song makes me want to put on a cowboy hat and sing along, with my eyes closed (I always sing with my eyes closed anyway), and a glass of beer close at hand with enough room left in it to catch the tears. Take a sip, add a few units of salty, liquid DNA, sing along. Repeat, for about six minutes. Yeah, it's a long song, but the subject of loss can get complicated, at least (or especially) when you have a quintet comprised of guys like Rick Danko, Levon Helm, Garth Hudson, Richard Manuel, and Robbie Robertson taking it on. When it comes to showing us what we are, those guys knew what they were talking (singing, playing) about. It sounds like they're all in though, both numerically and emotionally. I hope Mr. Danko, the lead singer, didn't have to do too many takes because just my single rendition here at home under some pretty inclusive headphones knocked me for a righteous loop, and although I realize he was a professional singer and I'm not (I don't profess anything), singing this song too many times can't be healthy for anyone. In other words, Rick Danko sings the shit out of this thing. He sounds like every creature that has ever been injured. My favorite part of the vocal: Since you've gone/it's a losing battle/Stampeding cattle/they rattle the walls. Goddamn, those are some exquisitely lonely words. I love that battle, those cattle, those rattling walls, and how Mr. Danko stretches the last word of that sentence into more syllables than you're used to. It's just a lonely cowboy song, true, but it's more because you also get a wondrously wondering soprano saxophone (I think that's what it is) caressing the emptiness, especially after the singing has stopped. It fools around with the twitchily melodic, banjo-ish, respectful, lovely electric guitar during the lingering richness of the coda, at the end of which they melt into each other. But that soprano saxophone (I think) -- oh, my: it doesn't just sound like a cowboy under a big dark sky, it sounds like love and loss finally getting along with each other, it sounds like whatever beautiful thing you will want close by when you're dying.  

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