1 January 2010

Doo Wop Dialog[ue]: 44

(42/M/London, England)

According to Marsh (Buy the book and skip the postings!) Fred Parris was on guard duty "in the middle of a freezing Korean night" when the song came to him as he was thinking about Cole Porter's song (shades of Glorias 1 and 2!), so it sounds like the song was conceived out of nostalgiac need: a hunger for that sustaining image, however airbrushed the reality (just as at one point in Death of a Salesman Willy Lowman demands good news from his boys, and you feel he deserves it, even though he's really saying Lie to me "and I won't ask again...").

Your images in your last posting are really evocative and detailed but I like the fact that, although seeing a more complex reality than the songs, they too have a kind of roseate glow, a sense of heightened, poetically selective reality that sits well with the music - presumably down to a combination of your own distancing from the event and an awareness of audience in this public context, to say nothing of the fact that as soon as we pick up a pen (or incredible shrinking keyboard, as at this end) we become selective - can't pin down the whole of reality, anymore than you can definitively explain away the mysteries of Gloria or GT (though you made a pretty good fist of the former, I have to say). Nabokov said that "reality" is a word which can only exist in inverted commas. In the act of writing anything down we have to select, and therefore the act of remembering is to poeticise. Which brings us neatly (whew!) back to In the Still of the Night...

You're right. Magic. You can't really say any more, but it's fun, as you've shown, to try, so I'll follow your lead. You've said so much and so powerfully (as I'm sure our audience will agree) that I'll just bear down on a few points.

The vocals, backing and lead, are wonderful. Because they're all too human and flawed (we're not exactly talking the Platters or the Four Freshmen) they invest that simple song with themselves: frail humanity plus divine aspiration - the yearning for the loved one taking on a religious intensity, as so often in this gospel-derived genre - equals a winningly poignant combination, and what they most certainly do not lack is conviction.

There. Almost done (for now). The only other thing I want to mention is that line "hold me again, with all of your might.” That's the most affecting line of all, as you, I think, touched upon. Cause you can't ever hold on hard enough to make it alright, unchanging, forever: time, the light, are coming in to do their dirty work and all you can do is grasp at the memory and half remember and half invent, on a freezing cold Korean night.

And go down in doowop history because we all want someone to make it right, too.


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