Thursday, November 18, 2010

The house on Sandusky

I only lived there for about eighteen months. My first real "home" in Tulsa after moving there in 1980. Built in the 1930s and featuring a black glass art deco fireplace surround, my strongest memories of living there revolve around the music that I was listening to at that time. As a frame of reference consider Talking Heads - Remain In Light; EC and the Attractions - Trust; the Police - Zenyattà Mondatta.

At the time a little-known Kiwi band was making some noise in the US. Split Enz got some radio traffic with their 1980 single I've Got You. In 1981 their LP Waiata was released and immediately got some music videos playing on that new-fangled MTV channel. I was (and still am) very enamoured by that record. In fact I don't believe they ever released a better record. The radio hit One Step Ahead is a standout, but there are at least half a dozen other songs of equal quality on that album.

Which brings me to I Don't Wanna Dance, which appears snuggly in the middle of side one. The opening salvo of synths and drums leads to the first verse in which songwriter and vocalist Tim Finn makes the complex melody line seem simple. At 2:20 Neil Finn lets loose with an intense guitar solo that does not let up until the end of the song, and the complexion of the song changes dramatically. The angst inherent in the lyrics come front and center as the synthesizer chords build and build. The chorus returns and when repeated a second time, at just about 2:51, a moment of transfiguration occurs when the harmony is changed and Mr. Finn sings the line "I don't wanna dance.... tonight....". It is that rare moment in pop music where the perfect chord, the perfectly sung lyric, and the emotion of the moment take this song into another realm.

I drove by that house at the corner of Sandusky and 12th in the summer of 2009 and was happy to see that the current owners have spruced it up. I wonder if they kept the art deco fireplace, and what sort of music they listen to.


Holly A Hughes said...

That video is so 80s! But if I close my eyes, the song is much better that I remembered it. I am abidingly fond of Neil Finn...

Who Am Us Anyway? said...

Ah, thanks Mr. P. All 80s band news is so welcome in Casa Who. My Lost Decade, the 80s. Every 80s band I learn about sounds new to me. Until tonight I knew their I Got You, that's it. (Sometimes we SHOUT -- that's no PROB-lem.) Now I know and dig I Don't Wanna Dance. And man, I love the House on Sandusky trip -- I have to figure out how you did that magic Google Street Map thing. Unbelievable.

Mister Pleasant said...

Also a big fan of Neil Finn's songwriting. His brother Tim has a knack for off-kilter tunes like this one.

You are most welcome Mr. Who. Glad to help fill in the blanks for you from the pesky 80s. Things got a bit bleak later in the decade but there was a lot of good stuff going early on.

The Google street map thingy makes my heart go pitty pat too... amazing to be able to look at places I have known from the past with those street views.