Sunday, September 07, 2008

Unexpected Pop Songs

You know, it’s a wonderful thing to know that life can still throw small surprises your way. By this time in my life (let’s generously call it approaching early middle-age), I sort of understand that big, unexpected things could happen to anybody, anywhere; health things, accidents, world events, what have you. I also understand that I understand very little, and everyday shows me new things in the world, which I sometimes appreciate and often overlook, but still my jaded eyes know the basic boundaries of my small, daily world, what I can expect and how I can appreciate or ignore the things that come my way.

Take pop music. I’ve always loved pop music, which I take to include all but the utmost fringes of rock, r&b, rap, folk and country music. But I’ve had a difficult relationship with it for a number of years now. I’ve always continued to appreciate the music that I learned to love and that was important to me as a youth and young adult. And I’ve always been interested in exploring new things, but the last few years it’s become something of a chore. I have a restless ear and I want to like new things, I read record reviews, I ask friends, I listen to things that people like or love or that catch my fancy in some definable or indefinable way. And I like a lot of it, but it kind of stays there…I like it, and then I don’t listen to it again. New stuff, old stuff I never heard, whatever (I will say that the percentages go way up when I catch overlooked stuff from bands or eras that I enjoyed when I was younger).

I usually write it all off to being a bit of a fogey, not appreciating the darn-fool stuff that kids today listen to, combined with my brain being full already of pop music. But today an utterly unexpected gem came my way, nothing world-changing or shattering, just a perfectly written and executed gem of a pop song from a source I’d never given a moment’s thought. The song is “Goodbye Lucille #1” from 80’s British band “Prefab Sprout”. Written by Paddy McAloon, it’s definitely pop, and polished, but…well, like I said, just perfect, moving in surprising yet entirely natural ways, moving and sentimental yet straightforward, earnest with a lash of humor and off-the-cuff spontaneity.  The album is "Two Wheels Good" or "Steve McQueen" (you can find it under either title), and it's all good, but for my money this track is the standout.

This is just a tease, isn’t it? Maybe I’ll figure out how to put a streaming copy of the song on my blog so you all can enjoy. Otherwise, I’m sure if you’re so motivated you can figure something out. And if not, just take solace in the knowledge that these little surprises lay in wait for you, too.  

But it helps if you do a little digging and keep your ears open.

1 comment:

Jay said...

Hey Brian,

You've described perfectly my own "early middle aged" attitude to new music.
I discovered Stephin Merritt a few years ago. It was revelatory, but as you sort of say about your own experience, it was registered and filed away.