03 August 2009

The Bit Before the End

When I was in college, I used to go out clubbing pretty much every Saturday.  The last year, I lived in a studio flat on my own - God, I loved that flat!  Clubbing is a very smoky activity, and sometimes when I came home, smoky and often sweaty, I just couldn't stand going to bed like that, so I'd take a shower.  I loved standing there in the shower at two o'clock in the morning:  whether it was the decadence of it, or the unexpectedness, or the silence, I don't know.  But I loved it.

I remember this because last night I went out dancing with my friend TT, and when I got home I was so smoky that I wanted to take a shower.  I didn't, because I knew I was going to have one today, but just wanting to made me think again of those showers.

Funnily, the dancing (which was only okay - there wasn't enough good music) brought up something I'd been occasionally remarking on for a couple of weeks now:  the way that, occasionally, a fade-out line can be the best part of a song.  The club played "Let's Get It On," a song I highly enjoy both because it's so luscious and because it contains the ludicrously tacky come-on line, "We're all sensitive people, with so much to give."  But more than enjoying it for that line or for its unabashed heat, I love it because almost right at the end, before an emphatic  hand-clap, Gaye sings, "I been sanctified."  That makes the whole song for me - I think it's the mingling of the utterly secular with the sacred, and the way that raises the secular to the level of the sacred.

Other songs that provide a similarly pleasurable final moment are Peter Gabriel's "Sledgehammer," where the moment in fact is almost identical:  right at the end Gabriel sings, "I've been cleaned in the river, cleaned in the river" (the similarity increased by the fact that the song is a series of sexual metaphors).  Totally different, but providing the same enjoyment, is The Cure's "The Man Inside My Mouth," where really right at the end Robert Smith half says/half sings, "This won't hurt at all...," which is in itself totally different from the moment at the end of "Raspberry Beret" where Prince sings, "Where have all the raspberry women gone?"  Actually, I like that one best of these three, because it captures perfectly the nostalgia of the song, while giving it an unexpected bittersweet twist - that is, you think it's just a song about an enjoyed sexual memory, but then it turns out to be about a yearning for something lost.

Conversely, one of the least interesting deployments of this final line tag is at the end of "Black Coffee in Bed," by Squeeze (nice eyeliner, Glenn Tilbrook!), an otherwise wonderful song.  Backing vocals are supplied by Elvis Costello, among others (those others including the lovely and talented Paul Young), and right at the end he sings, "No milk and sugar!"  (it's cut off in the previous version.)  It adds nothing - it's merely cute, and a moment for the listener to think, Ah, Elvis!  Sigh.

I shall keep an ear out for more of these moments...

1 comment:

Incubus said...

I would add Placebo's "Pure Morning" to the list, although it is not a very "dancing" music.