No, this is not really about music “history”. Even if I wanted to write about the actual history of music I would be lost in a sea of my own ignorance. Instead, I am writing this as tribute to the incredible moments of great songs. The moments that you get awed by the awesomeness of it all, and you either enter a frenzied dance session or a jaw-dropped hypnosis. The part of a song that defines it, maybe defines the band, and maybe even defines a genre or a time. These are the things that stay with you, and I have always wanted to share them. These are the particular parts, the fragments of a song that have solidified a spot in my mind as some of the greatest moments in music history. So without further ado, here are my first entries…
I GUESS WE’LL JUST HAVE TO ADJUST (AT 2:52)
The passion, energy, and sheer force of Arcade Fire’s debut album Funeral hits its peak in the unstoppably inspiring Wake Up. Win Butler unleashes his fervour, and races forward to belt out “we’re just a million little clouds causing rainstorms, turning every good thing to rust…”, and right before the climax he shouts “I guess we’ll just have to adj…” before the remaining “…ust” is swept up by a tidal wave of synchronized voices. The result is colossal, awe-inspiring, and never fails to get your red heart beating and tight fist pumping.
DON’T YOU WISH YOU NEVER MET HER (AT 2:10)
Every man who ever had a crazy ex-girlfriend feels a chill in their spine when they hear PJ Harvey maniacally whisper “no, you’re not rid of me”. In Rid of Me Harvey circles her prey (most likely a careless man) quietly in the dark, and with a dark bloodlust calmly describes her ex-lovers fate. The eerie lack of anything but electric guitar softly strummed and PJ’s possessed delivery builds an uncomfortable tension, and the listener is unsure what is around the corner. That is until PJ leaps into the foreground, fangs out, and steals the very thoughts out of the poor man’s mind, yelling “don’t you wish you never, never met her?!” I’m sure the gentleman is thinking “Yes. Yes I do”. The chorus is alarming, aggressive, and sets the tone for PJ’s classic album.
I KNOW (AT 0:50)
Not too many songs sound as soulful as Bill Wither’s Ain’t No Sunshine. Every element is effective, from the soft percussion tapping, to the gorgeous strings. But for all of those who love this song as much as I do, the most memorable moment is when Wither’s loses himself in the repetition of “I know” until he is out of breath. That’s when I knew his heart was really in the delivery. Timeless.
SOMEDAY YOU WILL DIE SOMEHOW AND SOMETHING’S GONNA STEAL YOUR CARBON (AT 3:35)
As hard for me as it is to name a favourite Modest Mouse song, I have to say Parting of the Sensory would probably take the prize. Anger just suits Isaac Brock well, and he spits hot fire on this meditation on death. The song slowly raises the stakes with added strings and echoing guitar punches, until a banjo leads an army of marching instruments, with rolling drums, handclaps, and violin. Brock enters a fever pitch, screaming what is essentially the same line over and over again as a war cry over the stampede of maritime inspired noise. It is impossible not to get swept up by it, and chant madly along with him. It is a musical rush.
AN OMINOUS NOTE (AT 4:22)
Revolver may have introduced the world to The Beatle’s experimental side, but Sgt. Pepper gave the listener a glimpse of darkness never seen before. On Day In The Life the lyrics are gloomy and puzzling. The piano was as low and ominous as a storm cloud. And the wall of sound was frightening and intimidating. However, no moment was truly as haunting as the final note played on the piano. The one that is left to sit uncomfortably with your ears for over forty seconds. It was a clear sign that long gone were the giddy optimists of Help!, and Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds had opened up doors to darker corridors in their minds.
I will have much more, but until then, what are your favourites?