Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Across the wooded plain the wild geese have fled

There are some songs that seem to have been with me all my life. Although I only discovered the Pretty Things in the last couple of years, their best work really gets under my skin in a good way. She's A Lover from Parachute jumped out at me the first time I heard it. Of course it is a totally subjective issue and I cannot really put my finger on why this song gets to me as it does. But it is so worthy of trying so here goes...

Repeated listenings reveal a constantly changing texture of keyboards and guitars. And the song construction is quite unusual with an overall A-B-C-A-C form. The main verse and chorus share the same underlying chords but the melody and driving percussion become much harder in the chorus portion. There are two additional sections that interrupt mid song, with the second instrumental section returning as a coda at the end.

The roxichord opening is augmented by some mega awesome drumming and a syncopated bass line obbligato. Phil May's lead vocal soars above it all, sounding like a cross between Colin Blunstone and George Harrison (!). At this point (1970) he was the primary songwriter and vocalist and this song is one of his many gems.

She takes the moon and stars
To wear as her disguise.
Then catching cosmic rays
She uses them for eyes.

At 0:55 lovely harmony vocals open the first of the two middle sections.

There below the grey stone walls
Behind the hill she waits for you.
Painted on a field of corn
Strange messages she leaves for you.

Then at 1:19 a battle of two guitarists breaks out with a constant dizzing change of meters.

At 1:57 it flows back into the main theme with the obbligato taken up by a very fuzzy guitar.

She sheds her summer dress
Fearing it displeases you
Amid the white silk melting forest
Where she flew.

The final verse is puncuated by savage drumming, the instrumental section returns, then that final out of tune guitar chord, as if A Hard Day's Night had gone sour.

Excuse me while I listen to it again :)

1 comment:

ssspune said...

And all this in 3 1/2 minutes. Beautiful. Thanks for this post.