Savoy Truffle

I’ve always misheard it as ‘savory truffle’ and that makes more sense to me. These chocolate flavors that are being described are alien to me. Must be an English thing. This is far from being one of George Harrison’s most towering achievements, but it does show his cheeky humor. Apparently Harrison wrote it to poke fun at Eric Clapton’s sweet tooth, and subsequent cavities. Which shows once again that one of the Beatles’ great strengths, collectively, was their ability to mine inspiration out of literally anything. A child’s doodle? Hit song. A poster on the wall? Hit song. Box of chocolates? Not exactly a huge hit, but definitely a song. It takes a childlike level of joie de vivre to see so much inspiration in the world. The world is a box of wonders and everything in it is there for your artistic fueling.

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Save Me

Save me from myself, Aretha Franklin. What was Aretha herself trying to get saved from? Bad men, as always. It’s always bad men. The root of all sin, if you will. A gospel singer’s job is to help save souls from earthly sins and inspire them towards God. Aretha Franklin started as a gospel singer; as a secular musician she left most of the Jesus talk behind but never lost touch with the spirit of gospel. What she brought to secular music was the ability to rouse the soul, though it may have been mundane emotions that were being elevated. It certainly helps get through those mundane life problems when we see them as a metaphor for a higher struggle. It’s not money or love trouble, it’s a battle with sin and a journey towards a better state of being. The ups and downs are just tribulations on a broader metaphysical path. They’re there to be overcome and you’re there to be redeemed.

Sand and Foam

I want to disappear into a dark tropical lagoon now, because Donovan has done more for my imagination than any number of cruise lines or fancy resorts with their advertising. Maybe he should strike a deal with the national tourism board of Mexico. I don’t condone selling out like that, but there’s nothing like a good tune to make me want things I didn’t think I wanted. I’ve never even been anywhere tropical but I can feel it. I want rolling waves and luminescent beaches and – it’s not expressly in the song but you know it’s implied – psychedelic drugs. Okay, when it comes down to it, I mostly want the psychedelic drugs. I want everything to be luminescent and full of magic.

Sand

How does some 60’s kitsch grab you? Nancy Sinatra didn’t get much love from the anti-establishment youth set in her day, but she’s come to be appreciated as a bit of a cult artist. Her music was a far cry from what the rock demimonde was doing. Her image was too campy, and then there was her background. Her duets with Lee Hazlewood, especially, were easy to dismiss as some kind of airport-cocktail-lounge Americana, but those songs have become cult classics. If you listen closely, you may hear an element of camp but you won’t hear any schmaltz. They’re quite bizarre cultural artifacts, but they’ve aged well, beyond all expectation. Nancy Sinatra will probably have to die before she gets her due as an artist and cultural figure, but she’s already being rediscovered by discerning nostalgists.

Salt of the Earth

I sense an element of irony in the Rolling Stones’ exhortation to drink to all of the hard working people. The Stones don’t care about anything but themselves. They’ve never bothered much with pretending to be socially conscious or politically active, except for some vague up-against-the-man posturing. They did all come from working-class backgrounds, so there’s that, but they pretty quickly established themselves as their own class of doped-up aristocracy. “Do we look strange to you?” they ask, hoping for a resounding yes. I don’t really want self-awareness from The Rolling Stones; I like to imagine them communing with demons and occupying a space-time bubble far removed from us peasants. They certainly occupied their own world in 1968, into which this is only a cracked glimpse.

Sad Eyed Lady of the Lowlands

“It is like Beowulf and it ‘takes me out to the meadow’. This song can make you leave home, work on the railroad or marry a Gypsy. I think of a drifter around a fire with a tin cup under a bridge remembering a woman’s hair. The song is a dream, a riddle and a prayer.” – Tom Waits

Bob Dylan needs no introduction and defies interpretation. (That’s the literal definition of “Bob Dylan”) I’ve certainly got no special qualifications to add to the oceans of commentary already out there. I don’t really want to read any more of it, either. If anyone should have their commentary noted, why not Tom Waits? He’s more qualified than anyone.

Running Dry

I’d forgotten about this one. It takes me back to the bygone summer of 2014, when I was trying to listen to all of the Neil Young. I found out that listening to all of the Neil Young is practically impossible, because Neil Young has dozens of albums. Dozens upon dozens. Some are classics, some are just weird and bad. If you start at the beginning, with Buffalo Springfield, or even if you skip Buffalo Springfield, exhaustion starts to set in by about 1972. So you admit defeat and settle back into only listening to After the Gold Rush and Decade over and over again.