Maybe it’s my age or my sometimes cynical nature talking, but I just don’t see much passion or any other emotion placed within the lyrics or instrumentation of a song today. I long to feel the blood, sweat, and tears of a singer’s interpretation from the words written by the songwriter. I want to hear the booming echo of a drum or the soft, serene nature of a flute. Where can I find this? (Of course, the question’s rhetorical. There are artists working their hardest to be noticed under the stymie of the much-preferred cookie-cutter repetitiveness of today’s hit factories.
Unfortunately, (but then again, perhaps fortunately) I have to turn to the music of yesteryear. I gravitated to this music thankfully, in part, from having young parents and grandparents hip to their music scenes and incorporating them into my daily life. Without them, my ears would not have matured and expected great music and the greater possibilities of other arts. (Also, it didn’t hurt growing up in Philadelphia, a “Chocolate City” churning out great R&B, Soul, and Doo-Wop like the much-needed oxygen of a given population.) I grew up with said music as well as Motown and, sometimes to my family’s chagrin, the soulful rock of Led Zeppelin, The Rolling Stones, and The Beatles (Mind you, I have an affinity for British rock bands.) It’s because of this need to hear this music that I will highlight one song each week that gives me that kick in my backside that I need to start the week off properly.
The first song to “kick” everything off is brought to us by The Four Tops, a wonderfully harmonic quartet straight out of the halls of Motown, and from the musically divine writing hands of Holland-Dozier-Holland. In 1967, they released “Bernadette”, a song about a man’s strong desire and jealousy for a girlfriend that acquires the often undesired attention of other men. The man increasingly discusses why she’s good for him and how she makes him who he is. On one hand, you feel deep empathy for him. You’ve been there before with a love and you’ll do anything in your power to seal that love in a protective case away from malicious others. However, on the other hand, the song unnerves you because it’s an unhealthy obsession for someone that is unfairly placed in a position of fueling a man’s need to live. Who would want that?
Yet, it’s a great song. You feel the intensity with each passing stanza, and, it’s one of the earliest songs with a false ending, where the late Levi Stubbs gives one last plead as he further sings of his insecurities with the song’s fade out.
Here take a listen:
Deep, isn’t it?
Give me an example of a song from Rihanna or her consorts that would match that. Let me know when you’ll lift your head from that hole of audacity.