October 10, 2011

Why don't you just take the night, wrap it all around me

I've written before about my fascination with the effect music can have on us.  I've read one book on the topic so far that unfortunately fell short of a satisfying explanation, and am currently in the midst of two others (Oliver Sacks' Musicophilia and Robert Jourdain's Music, The Brain, And Ecstasy)  in the hopes that at least one of them will provide more insight.  I want to understand this--  How can certain combinations of chords, melody, rhythm and, specifically for me, voice and words, sweep us to such intense heights of emotion?  How can a mere song inspire an addictive craving to hear it over and over and over again?  If anyone out there knows... please, explain it to me.

The latest song to have this effect on me is one that I first heard about a few weeks ago, when it was announced that Q Magazine was releasing a special issue including a bonus cd in tribute to U2's Achtung Baby.  Amongst the artists covering tracks from the original album was Jack White.  I immediately pulled up a video of U2's original to get an idea of what he'd be working with.



Took one listen for me to fall in love with the song.  I've never been an outright fan of U2, but this and other tunes like With Or Without You stir every romantic yearning I've ever had.  The blend of words, Bono's voice, and the music effectively brings me to tears.

But tonight... Tonight Jack's cover version was leaked onto the internet and moved me in a way I think nothing I've ever heard before has.  So many elements of it are typical of his style--  The interplay of acoustic and electric guitar, the high pitched vocals, the drama... but, at the same time, it's so very different from anything he's done before.  In this one song he's taken every one of those familiar elements to a higher level than I've heard from him before.  The man is known for passionate performances, most famously on the White Stripes cover of Jolene and the Raconteurs' Blue Veins, but this one contains a sustained tension and passion that tops anything I've heard from him yet.  As incredible as his own songwriting is, he's got a brilliantly uncanny ability to take other people's words and music and transform them into something so much more powerful than the original artist created.  I've been left with my eyes wide, my jaw dropped and my heart pounding, and I can't stop listening to it.   



Love is blindness
I don't want to see
Won't you wrap the night
Around me
Oh my heart
Love is blindness

In a parked car
In a crowded street
You see your love
Made complete
Thread is ripping
The knot is slipping
Love is blindness

Love is clockworks
And cold steel
Fingers too numb to feel
Squeeze the handle
Blow out the candle
Love is blindness

Love is blindness
I don't want to see
Won't you wrap the night
Around me
Oh my love
Blindness

A little death
Without mourning
No call
And no warning
Baby...a dangerous idea
That almost makes sense

Love is drowning
In a deep well
All the secrets
And no one to tell
Take the money
Honey
Blindness

Love is blindness
I don't want to see
Won't you wrap the night
Around me
Oh my love
Blindness


From ology.com, a review of the song that uses words like "devastating" and "stunning" that I didn't have the presence of mind to summon up: Listen To Jack White Cover U2's "Love Is Blindness"

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