I may not have been writing here much of late, but while I’ve been away, there’s always been at least or song or two in my heart. Songs I would like to talk and write about, songs I want to share. I think it’s time I started doing so again.
My 45 45s series which ended last year reminded me how much I enjoy focussing in on a particular song, without the need necessarily to tell a fuller story, or set it in the context of the artist in question’s musical progression (or regression). This new (and inevitably irregular) ongoing series will follow the same lines, but instead of limiting myself to the recto surface of 500-odd 45s, I’m going to allow myself to choose discrete songs or pieces of music from any format, genre, and time. Which already feels like blissful freedom in comparison.
Some songs you keep coming back to, wanting aurally and mentally to gnaw at them much as a dog does a bone – because they in turn gnaw at you, get inside your head and your heart, and give you glimpses of life as lived by others, glimpses which may or may not chime with the life you’ve lived yourself. In a way, they are glimpses of perfection – untidy life tidied up into the coherent structures of chords, melody, verse and chorus, the messiness of emotion rendered clear as spring water by thinking, feeling minds – or left deliberately or subconsciously full of that glorious messiness, that disorder or flight of the spirit which reminds us listeners how fully alive it is possible to be.
The Lucksmiths’ ‘Fiction’ is one such song. I remember seeing the group play live a couple of times around the turn of the millennium, and found them engaging and enjoyable because of the sunlit Australian warmth they exuded, together with their perhaps nationally atypical tendency towards being understated. I don’t recall them playing ‘Fiction’ on those occasions; I’m sure I would remember if they had, because it’s the kind of song which sticks in your head after just one listen. Coming across it not so long ago, alongside the equally compelling ‘The chapter in your life entitled San Fransisco’, I was immediately struck by its beguiling mix of clever story-telling and wistful sense of what might have been. The song inhabits its title to such an extent that when you are done listening, you feel like you’ve just read the most perfectly crafted short story, a previously unread gem by your favourite short story writer (William Saroyan, say, or Janice Galloway).
Sung by Tali White, with lyrics written by Marty Donald, and played by a group whose lyrical sensitivity had been fine-tuned over many years, I feel sure the four and a half minutes of ‘Fiction’ will worm its way inside your mind and heart too, if it hasn’t already.
The image at the head of the post is of a Flannery O’Connor quote and was included among ‘25 stunning literary tattoos from books by your favorite female authors’.