Arts, Music, Column

Feeling and Memory – Deep Tracks Vol. 1

In honor of Tom Petty’s Buried Treasure segment on Sirius XM’s Deep Tracks, I wanted to talk about a few of my favorite deep tracks. Deep tracks are good songs that perhaps not many people have heard, songs that came on the B-side of a record, or songs that have almost been lost to the sands of time. Most of my favorite music is old, so the songs I suggest below will fall into the “sands of time” category.

The first song I want to mention comes from the B-side of Ram, an album by Paul and Linda McCartney. Paul had left The Beatles at this point, and struck out on his own. “Monkberry Moon Delight” features Paul on lead vocals, with his wife Linda singing back-up. The song stands out to me mainly due to its large departure from Paul’s usual sound. The Beatles have always been known for their amazing harmonies, with very crisp and clear voices. In “Monkberry Moon Delight,” Paul screams the lyrics in a voice that nears hoarseness. Another big selling point of this song is that it has almost no message. Beatles songs have been overanalyzed for decades, as fans search for hidden or explicit meanings. “Monkberry Moon Delight” is a nonsense song. The opening verse, “So I sat in the attic, a piano up my nose / And the wind played a dreadful cantata (cantata, cantata) / Sore was I from the crack, of my enemy’s hose / And the horrible sound of tomato (tomato, tomato)” is an enigma. “Monkberry Moon Delight” is an upbeat and fun song that doesn’t promise hidden truths beyond the veil. It also sounds good, which should matter the most when it comes to music.

I first heard this next song when I was about 10 clicks into the “related artists” section of Spotify while listening to The Yardbirds (a band for another Deep Tracks column). “Let’s Live For Today” comes from the album of the same name by a ’60s band called The Grass Roots. The song was written by English band The Rokes, but became a hit in ’67 when The Grass Roots released it as a single. This ’60s hippie anthem champions a present-focused attitude, and that we shouldn’t “worry ‘bout tomorrow, hey” which I think is a good outlook to have, no matter the decade. It’s a good song to listen to after you get a bad grade on a test, or are trying to take school (or life) day by day. “When I think of all the worries / People seem to find / And how they’re in a hurry / To complicate their minds” leads to the chorus of “Sha la la la la la live for today.” Another interesting tidbit about this song, and The Grass Roots in general, is that Creed Bratton, of The Office, was one of the founding members, and is featured on guitar and backing vocals on this song, as well as some of the band’s other hits like “Midnight Confessions” and “Temptation Eyes.”

The last deep track for this column is a song by The Band. Most people who know The Band are familiar with their popular songs, “The Weight” and “Up On Cripple Creek.” These, and many other songs from The Band, are fantastic, but I want to devote my limited spotlight to a song I first heard while watching Martin Scorsese’s documentary on The Band’s last concert, known as The Last Waltz, in album and movie form. During this concert, The Band is joined by so many music legends that it’s almost unbelievable. Artists like Neil Young, Neil Diamond, Bob Dylan, Ringo Starr, Van Morrison, Joni Mitchell, Eric Clapton, Muddy Waters, Dr. John, Emmylou Harris, and Paul Butterfield, just to name a few, make an appearance. “It Makes No Difference” was first sung on The Band’s album Northern Lights – Southern Cross. The song is mournful and passionate, as it describes the lost and unrequited love the singer feels for his beloved. The opening lyrics pull no punches with “It makes no difference where I turn / I can’t get over you and the flame still burns” and “The sun don’t shine anymore / And the rain falls down on my door.” There is plenty of the song to enjoy, clocking in at 6:35 in length.

Each of these songs occupy a special place in my heart. When I listen to them, I am reminded of the first times I heard them and how I felt then. I also remember the times I would listen to them over and over again. “Monkberry Moon Delight” and “It Makes No Difference” were very close to each other on my poorly constructed iTunes playlist (before I shelled out for Spotify), and I would listen to the same section of songs every time I drove home from weightlifting practice my senior year of high school. I hear them and am transported back to that time in my life, and I can experience the same feelings I had at that time. I heard “Let’s Live For Today” at the end of my freshman year of college, and the song became a part of my summer 2017 anthem. While listening to it, I relive the experiences of reuniting with the friends I hadn’t seen since high school and sharing all of the stories from our college experiences.

I hope that by sharing these songs special to me, I can give someone else the chance to create memories and experiences to these same sounds. Sharing a song is a very personal and intimate gesture. We all have individual memories, feelings, and impressions associated with a collection of sounds, and we open a part of ourselves to someone else when we ask them to listen.

Featured Image by United Artists

October 15, 2017

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