Two nights ago, Dave was trying to explain the magic of song lyrics. “I see them on the page, you know, and it’s nothing. Just some words. But then we play the song and it’s like…”
I wait while he pauses, his arms extended over the sink, his hands open wide. I want to say, “It’s like, now you get it?” I want to say, “It’s like, the way the words unfold within the melody and come together in rhyme makes you understand them completely differently?” I want to say, “Where have you been since puberty?” But I wait. He stands there, graceful violin hands poised in mid-air.
I know he’s heard popular music before. Yes, he’s a classical musician, but I’ve seen pictures of him impersonating Freddie Mercury back in high school. Or was that Mozart? He’s always absentmindedly singing Bohemian Rhapsody, though come to think of it that’s the only pop song I’ve ever heard him sing absentmindedly. Maybe he has only heard the one.
But now, suddenly, he’s in a band. The guy who doesn’t even own one Dylan album is in an alt-folky guitar-pop band, with soaring harmonies and great lyrics and hooks that stick in your head. Now he sings Woah-woah when he’s drying dishes.
He’s still standing there. “It’s like, you hear them with the music and…”
I want to say, “What the hell do you think I’ve been doing all these years, obsessing over John Gorka and Patty Griffin and Aimee Mann and Bob Schneider and, and…?” Didn’t he listen, all those times when I said, “Listen” to how Patty Griffin sings Goodbye, goodbye, goodbye and how John Gorka sings Mmm-hmm? But I wait.
The next day, he says, “It’s like, I listened to our recording yesterday, constantly, six songs in a continuous loop. It’s just an iPhone recording, but even still, it’s like… Take The Beatles. She loves you, yeah, yeah, yeah. And I wanna hold your hand. I mean, the words are kind of dorky, but in context…” Oh God. I hope he’s not going to fall in love with his bandmate. Though maybe I would do the same. A great songwriter with an amazing voice is a powerful force. Then he says, “It’s really just like German lieder.” And I know I’m safe.
“Yeah, it’s pretty cool,” is what I allow myself to answer.