Column: “That Got Me to Thinkin’…?” My Favorite Part

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2/22/2021

“That Got Me To Thinkin’…?” “My Favorite Part” Chapter 36
By Bruce Williams

Bruce Williams

 

 

We all have our favorite artists (AC/DC), favorite albums (Back In Black), and favorite songs (“Hallowed Be Thy Name”), but have you ever realized that there are specific parts of songs that stick with us, tingle our spine, ripple our skin with goosebumps or send that single, pathetic tear cascading down our sad, fat little cheeks as we grip the steering wheel and bellow along?  Let me illustrate a few of my own, and we’ll start the conversation…

You know the intro to The Who’s “Baba O’Riley”?  I always imagined it would’ve been my walk up music as I headed to the plate for the Mariners—stretching and pointing my bat towards center field in the on-deck circle during the long intro, then strolling to the batter’s box when Daltrey begins belting…

“Out here in the fields, I fight for my meals

I get my back into my living

I don’t need to fight to prove I’m right

I don’t need to be forgiven, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, ye-ah!”

And then I homer, slowly trotting around the bases with my head humbly held down as the PA announcer lets the last of the song play out to the deafening adoration…

Then there was the rainy night my wife and I were returning home in the car together, the wipers thumping out a rhythm in the background to Phil Collins’ “In the Air Tonight” as we rode in silence—that is until the descending 10-note mid-song drum refrain—both of us pantomiming across our dueling sections of dashboard, pounding our imaginary skins like choreographed above-the-waist dancers, then falling back into silent rest with neither of us uttering a word as we continued our solemn drive.

When Kiss’ “I Was Made For Lovin’ You” comes on, I like to play it cool.  Cool, that is, until the first bullwhip crack and then all bets are off as I’m  a’shimmyin’ and a’whippin’ on cue until my wife is rolling her eyes and shaking her head in mock disgust (and possibly faint admiration?)  Nevertheless, there’s an unmistakable build up to that first crack, and even when alone in my truck I’ll let ‘er rip, hoping to make emotionless eye contact with passing vehicles on the freeway as I snap my arm and wrist like an amorous bullfighter.  Speaking of whips, Devo can’t go without being mentioned.  You know full well you’ve snapped a few to “Whip It”…you done whipped it good, didn’t ya?

In Ronnie James Dio’s “Rainbow In The Dark” the diminutive little vocalist with the monster voice loops around the word “Dark” about nine times—stretching out the middle “‘ar’” of the word, each time getting a little more wide-eyed, desperate and emphatic…”Dar-ar-ar-ar-ar-ar-ar-ar-ark!!”  I’m always winded and usually end up coughing a little bit and in need of some water after attempting to keep up with the little rascal.  I wish I would’ve seen him in concert—I’ll bet he was really something (one of my many missed-concert regrets).

I was going to write a whole column about how much I fanboyed Chris Cornell—seeing him early on at the Moore when “Big Dumb Sex” was Soundgarden’s encore and it brought down the house, or when I recognized him on an airplane and offered inquisitively, “Cornell?” only to have him humorously rebuff me with, “No, uh…Marv.”  Well his posthumous album of covers (No One Sings Like You Anymore, Vol. 1) is fantastic, and his soulful cover of Gn’R’s “Patience” gets me every time—when he yowl’s, “Yeeeeaaahhh…I need you…” his voice crackling like a bonfire with emotion as he throws his head back to open up those golden vocal chords.  I listened to this album exclusively for a whole sad month, and when you do that you’re changed forever…that particular set then becoming a part of you permanently.

The Beatles have “Hey Jude” with its “Jude-Jude-Judy-Judy-Judy-Ju-day” yelped by Paul about four minutes in, and Ringo’s “I’ve got blisters on my fingahs!” at the conclusion of “Helter Skelter”—I can get behind both of those vitriolic valve vents, much like The Doors’ Jim Morrison’s menacingly balladeering taunt, “Blood screams her brain as they chop off her fingers!” during “Peace Frog” or his baritoned, mechanical “Stronger than dirt!” at the end of “Touch Me” (you have to listen closely for that one)—echoing the laundry detergent commercial that was shooting in the adjacent studio at the time.  All of these little tidbits are my favorite parts, and have been once I got their timing and cadence down after their initial listenings. 

There’s a million other ones…bits and pieces here and there that make the song have legs and come to life.  There might not be a point in this week’s meanderings, but that’s okay—it’s all good fun and part of the backdrop and soundtrack of our lives.  For what would we be without music, art, books and film?  Bores, that’s what.  Happy listening…

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