Thursday, July 9, 2009

"I keep intending to tell you..."

Just a quick word before I shuffle off to work this morning on my enchantment with Tammy Wynette's angelic 1969 Nashville record, Stand By Your Man. It still dumbfounds me that a record with such a heavy populist soul bent hasn't made a more wide-spread comeback, whereas, say, Etta James' At Last and Dusty Springfield's Dusty in Memphis are both now nearly as widely recognized as records by Aretha Franklin and The Beatles.

One song in particular has been stuck in my head in the craziest way for months now, and especially now--perhaps owing in no small part to the fever pitch adherence I've developed to Camera Obscura's My Maudlin Career, hardly a day goes by that I don't at least cut right to "It Keeps Slipping My Mind" and sad out just for the hell of it. Books are waiting to be written on the subject of sad songs that sound happy (by Joy Division standards 'Love Will Tear Us Apart' is quite chipper sounding) but the Wynette tune, co-written by Nashville wizard, and this session's producer, Billy Sherrill, is just the opposite. So much so that I made the discovery of its bold soul-in-drag interior in a fit of personal self-abuse and indulgence. It involved beer, pie-eyed ogling and "It Keeps Slipping My Mind" on a jukebox. When I got up close to it, and separated its sentiment from the mirage of its overlying country torch song sensibility it made me laugh to myself. The gist is simple, Tammy pulls her old flame aside, she's been meaning to tell him something. The sound is plaintive and soars in the way Nashville tells us heartache soars. She goes on to sing about love's errors and regrets, but in the end she has to admit, she's moved on. All the things she thought she had to say no longer bother her, she's made peace. It's a lap steel-gilded take on the adage that the best revenge is good living.

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