Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Baby, Go On and Live: "Tell It Like It Is"

I've wondered what the first song to be featured here twice would be.

I knew it would happen, given how much I love to listen to songs repeatedly and how much the meaning of songs can change over time.

And this one I feel like I gave short shrift the first time around in service of proving a point (something that sadly happens all too often). The point was that many songs that call themselves love songs are actually not all that loving when you look at them too close.

But this song deserves to be more than a stepping stone in the construction of an argument. It is actually one of my favorite songs of all time, and one that always stops me in my tracks when I hear it.


The song: Aaron Neville, "Tell It Like It Is"; 1967

The second that piano arpeggio hits, you know this song is NOT fucking around. And it doesn't: it's leisurely and measured in pace, but in a way that imparts confidence. What's more, if you listen to the horns in the background it will make you feel like there is something there that is restrained, but barely.

"Life is too short to have sorrow/you may be here today and gone tomorrow/you might as well get what you want" is a line that gets me right in the Chronic Existential Pain Syndrome. But that's okay, because it does what I need things to do to me, which is to shake me out of it.

Tell it like it is: a phrase I love because it uses short and simple words to make a deceptively complicated point.

One of those things that's so much easier said than done, but that doesn't mean it's not worth a try.