Friday, 1 January 2010

Doo Wop Dialog[ue]: 72

(42/M/London, England)


Looking for an echo, an answer to our sound,
A place to be in harmony,
A place we aImost found.

As we all know, young doowop singers sought out places that would return their sound to them, not just to enhance their voices but also, whether consciously or not, out of a greater need, as expressed in the song: a wish to be made whole, to connect not just with the reaI or imagined loved one but with each other and with the wider world of those who might respond and say: "I feel this too." An answer to our sound. A Fifth Satin who by bringing his or her attention to bear on the song is saying they aren't alone and who, by completing the circle, by becoming part of this global chain we discussed in ITSOTN, is also relieved of that burden.

But as both a singer and a listener you can never quite get there - or at any rate stay there for long enough. So moments in concerts when the quality of the audience's attention changes and suddenly everyone is participating in a real event, a shared experience, and off the wall moments on otherwise conventional records – often for me the wordless wailing at the end, as I've said - need to be treasured for what they promise, even if the full delivery doesn't follow through. There's an art in listening to echoes, a special skill in cultivating that generosity of mind – whether with a doowop record or indeed another human being - that will allow us to look beyond what is; and there's something about doowop, of all musical forms, that encourages us to make that kindly leap, given that frailty and vulnerability are so often at the heart of its recordings.

I knew we'd get to Vernon Green eventually.


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