Thursday, February 08, 2007

LA Weekly Valentine's Day Love Song Round-up


Here's my contribution:

Aretha Franklin, “Prove It”

People think Aretha’s genius, the spine of her musical legacy, is the vocal wail that’s released when the head is thrown back, the eyes squeezed shut, and the lungs turned up to 10. But listen to this track from 1967, when the Queen of Soul was just coming into her power, and be reminded of what her true, true talent was. “Prove that it won’t bother me to become your used-to-be / Prove that I can just ignore all the love we shared before...” The opening lines to “Prove It” are perched upon the barely drawn breath, the one it hurts you to take, and that leaves you exhausted. Post-tears distress. The vocals are strong and unwavering, but paradoxically delicate. The beauty and the power of the performance is in the shading, the raw letting of pain. It’s in the lived knowledge of how a broken heart depletes all of you and leaves you wasted. Yes, Miss Franklin does deliver cathartic, pure belting later in the song, and the glorious interplay of lead and backing vocals is the stuff that created soul-boy fanatics around the globe. But what first pulls you into this song is the nakedness and fragility with which she begins. And when the emotional fallout hits, with no-holds-barred blues shouting at the song’s climax, you know this isn’t volume masquerading as passion. It isn’t undisciplined shouting to hide weak lyrics. It’s the distilled sound of loss and grief and a bewildered, tossed-aside lover’s pleas and recriminations. Dear Mary J., please don’t ever cover this... please, please... for real, please. (Ernest Hardy)

For the rest of the article, go here

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