Thursday, June 11, 2009

Second Song

My second song is "Comes Love."  I don't know which version because I don't know who was singing it when I first heard it . . . some female vocalist from the 1930s, but I don't know which one . . .  Perhaps I should explain.

I'm a big fan of the music of the 20's and the 30's.  Earlier than that and the sound is liable to be a little operatic and shrill; later than that and it is too common, familiar.  The 20's with the early jazz gyrations of exuberance like "Ain't We Got Fun? or "That's A Plenty;" the 30's with the crooning encouragements like "Pennies From Heaven" or "The Best Things in Life are Free;"  and the bluesy innuendos of sexual decadence or, frankly, the substance abuse that perhaps accompanies a Prohibition like "I Wanna Be Bad" or "Minnie the Moocher" -performed with this wonderful nearly indescribable tinny, hollow sound.  Frequently the performers' voices seem to mimic the sound of a trumpet that has been muffled by a "mute."  I once played a 20s/30s favorite for Art, certainly the smartest guy about audio in my experience, and asked him "How do they get the singer to sound like that . .what IS that?"  His answer?  Bad microphones . . .

Perhaps . . . I've been known to use outdated, "bad" photographic equipment to achieve an artistic goal . . .maybe simply using old salvaged mics would achieve a similar distortion of sound that old lenses bring to sight. . . . . maybe.

I first discovered that I loved that music in another Steve Martin/Bernadette Peters film, "Pennies From Heaven" which was a big screen version of Dennis Potter's mini-series about a daydreamer who perpetually drifts into cinematic musicals when facing his humdrum life.  My new favorites were Helen Kane, the Boswell Sisters, and the underappreciated Irving Aaronson.

I'm a big fan of 20's and 30's music; I'm not necessarily a fan of big amusement park rides.  The two would seem to be mutually exclusive with nothing in common until you consider the Disney ride "Tower of Terror."  The ride is themed around a haunted, dilapidated 1930's Hollywood hotel and while the "main action"  is pushing you down faster than gravity can pull you, the gift shop is playing some truly wonderful music.  I rode the Disney World Tower in 2005 and, don't get me wrong, it's a great ride.  The number of drops varies each time you ride and the velocity of the surprise-when it comes-will lift things that aren't tied down up from the seat.  But faced with riding the California Adventure Tower in 2008, I was a little reluctant.

Truthfully, I'm always reluctant about amusement park rides . . . I get motion sickness and I spend WAY TOO MUCH TIME evaluating whether I will throw up on a ride.  There is some part of my brain that apparently thinks throwing up is the equivalent of death or worse.  I don't like to throw up.  But I realized that my reluctance to riding the tower wasn't because I was afraid I would throw up.  I knew I wouldn't.  Rather, I was anticipating it like someone who needs to use the restroom feels about an extremely bumpy road that stands between him and his end goal.  I wasn't looking forward to the sensations the Tower was going to deliver.  So I chose not to ride and retired to the giftshop to wait for my friends.  

Giddy with relief and self-satisfaction at having made a decision not based on fear, I had a rare moment of "real" conversation with a middle-aged saleslady about the ride before she descended back into trying to sell me Hollywood Hotel bathtowels and shotglasses when all of the sudden "Comes Love" came over the shop's speakers.  It was all I could do not to sway along with the music or attempt to sing along.  

"Comes a rainstorm, put your rubbers on your feet
Comes a snowstorm, you can get a little heat
Comes love, nothing can be done . . ."

I nearly hit the saleslady like Dino hits Fred when he comes home to the Flintstone household.  "That, you can sell me that," I said, pointing at the ceiling.  When I finally made her understand that I meant a soundtrack to the ride, she led me to the only soundtrack the giftshop had to sell - "The Nightmare Before Christmas."  

When I think back on Orlando's Tower in 2005, I remember hoping this was the last drop and that we could get off now.  When I think about Anaheim's Tower in 2008, I remember everything I just told you-but in even greater detail-the saleslady's hair and glasses, the various items on display, the barriers at the check out (suggesting nearly as many people purchase the photo of them riding the ride as actually 'ride the ride,') the feel of the light carpet under my feet, the smiles on my friends faces as they exited towards me and I encouraged them to go again . . and it's wrapped up in this ribbon of a haunting tune that still makes me want to undulate and sing along with the cobwebbed earworm in my brain . . 

even if I don't know who is singing . . .

but I someday I will . . . 

cause I may not have bought the soundtrack, 
but the song exists on media somewhere . . .

and I took home the thrill of the hunt.

1 comment:

Greyhawk said...

Well, here's a starting point: