Tuesday, January 16, 2007

"Saturday in the Park"

Last time I wrote how sometimes it's difficult to just let music wash over you and just act as aural wallpaper. Today, I'm going to suggest that a particular song can be like stepping into a hot shower on a cold morning. No matter what the particular song is - it can be post-punk industrial for some, and the most saccharine gloop for others.
The point is to underline, to emphasise how the right music taps into our individual psyches and just....does something. Not that I'm suggesting a particular song may necessarily confer superpowers or X-ray vision, but there are moments.....
This song does all of that for me, and normally I wouldn't even have the time of day for Chicago (the unhinged "25 or 6 to 4" excepted).
Maybe it's the slightly funky piano intro, with that chocolate layer of horns on top, drifting slowly downwards, maybe it's the backbeat chorus with the blasts of brass, but whenever I hear this, I can open the convertible top in my head and just sit back and drink in the sunshine. I may be wearing a suit in the middle of winter in London, but in my head I'm in shorts, cruising south on Route 1 with the windows wide open.
I won't answer for the video - it's from 1973 - but it does set a mood. The song lasts only 3 minutes, but you get a bonus of "Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is," which only serves to demonstrate how talented this band really was.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

"The Man With a Harmonica"

I find it difficult to not listen to music, if you see what I mean. Too often, what is meant to be nothing more than aural wallpaper, a pleasant backdrop to something else, forces its way to the front of my consciousness and I start thinking about the music rather than just letting it wash over me.
Even when I'm on a gratuitious holiday of a lifetime, drinking in sights and sounds that I'd never expect to see in a year of Sundays, music manages to elbow its way to the front of the experience. Hence this track.
I guess when you're putting together a fancy getaway resort for cynical meeja folk and the like, you have to be pretty damn sharp when it comes to music. You want to create an ambience, sure, but it mustn't be an ambience these well-heeled jetsetters have experienced before.
And so Apollo 440 taking the iconic Ennio Morricone harmonica soundtrack from "Once Upon a Time in the West" and slipping it into a dub mood must be something even the most hardened music business lawyer would not expect when it came to mood music for his after-dinner drinks by the infinity pool.
All the cavernous space of the western frontier is still there in the tune, the lonely harmonica still beckons damned men to their doom, but the dub beat adds a note of urgency and a touch of urban thriller. It also brings The Clash to mind, which is frankly weird.
And it does create a mood, an ambience. Just not one that washes over me too easily.