As I've mentioned before, I often have to force myself to turn outward.
When I start to feel stressed at work or the holiday-time blues or just in general down, it's never been so easy to get wrapped up in my own feelings of moderately severe misery and general patheticness. And to say "wrapped up" will hopefully encapsulate this feeling for the (many) among us who have found ourselves all damp and mummified in self-pity like, frickin', Frodo in the lair of Shelob or something.
And so tonight what I have for you is a Story Song.
(Previously on In Bed With Amy Wilson: Clarence Carter, "Patches"; Reba McEntire, "Fancy")
The song: ABBA, "Fernando"; 1976
This song is just beautiful. Musically it sounds incredibly magical and fantastical and like there should be golden-winged dragons floating through the sky as it plays; lyrically it's SUPER sound, tight storytelling.
My favorite line is "we were young and full of life and none of us prepared to die, and I'm not ashamed to say the roar of guns and cannons almost made me cry", but REALLY, it's all so good.
I think the real strength of a story song lies in its brevity. Four minutes is nearly no time to establish a plot, characters, anything truly compelling -- and writers know that writing short is much harder than writing long.
A great story song can be summed up in one line, but most good stories don't really take more than that: "An aging veteran of an unsuccessful rebellion reminds his friend, whose memory is fading, of their long-ago moment of pride and glory."
(I don't know why I think the narrator in "Fernando" is supposed to be a man, but I sure do.)
My love for songs like "Fernando" is why I have to say publicly that I am not only slightly queasy about the term "guilty pleasure" these days, but that I actively disagree with the concept and see it as -- well there is just no other way to say this -- ANATHEMA to my ongoing personal philosophy of music.
The only way for a song to be something you feel guilty about is if you suppose that the act of enjoying it is somehow morally questionable. How could that possibly be?
Who you are is not what you like.
There are NO possible objective criteria to evaluate whether or not any given song is "good", other than if YOU think it is. (That no-possible-objective-criteria thing really makes people nervous, which is why the whole reprehensible culture of music-ranking and according coolness-ranking even exists.)
If you respond to a piece of music with your heart (as opposed to your feet or your hips or your sense of humor), the odds are that that piece of music was made with heart. Somewhere along the line.
And heart is not, will never be, something I can encourage anyone ever to be ashamed of.