Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Songs #161 and 162 - It's TWOsday!

Song #161 of 9999                                                  Song #162 of 9999

Title: Thirteen                                                          Title: That Teenage Feeling
Artist: Big Star                                                         Artist: Neko Case
Year: 1972                                                               Year: 2006
Album: #1 Record                                                   Album: Fox Confessor Brings the Flood

It's late and I'm tired but I didn't want to miss a night when I just got this thing restarted! But I may not have brilliant things to say. I'm just giving you fair warning.

I'm pairing up two songs I think are amazing for the way they capture the innocence and excitement of adolescent love. I must admit I first heard Big Star's "Thirteen" performed by Elliott Smith circa 1997 when I was downloading everything I could find by the late singer-songwriter. I remember vividly hearing him play it in a club that year and it was quite moving. In retrospect, the Big Star original is better. Alex Chilton's warble sparkles against the backdrop of so many trebly acoustic guitars and the backing vocals add a dimension lacking from almost every cover. The overlooked guitar solo is also really great with its jangly layers and before-the-beat syncopation. It's a beautiful recording.

Whereas Chilton's song really seems to capture young love in the moment, Neko Case's "That Teenage Feeling" is written from the perspective of an adult who can still remember what it feels like to fall in love as an adolescent and yearns for the return of that feeling. The 12/8 feel of the accompaniment gives the impression of prom night circa 1957 and the vocal arrangement hearkens back to the girl groups of the same era. The chord progression of the verse is complex, occasionally meandering, but when the song opens up and reveals the chorus, it's a magical moment. But you better not miss it because she only gives it to you once! It's as fleeting as the feeling it aims to portray.

No comments:

Post a Comment