Watch Me Entertain Myself!

Sacha Guitry once said, "You can pretend to be serious, but you can't pretend to be witty." Oh yes, I'm the great pretender.
(pilot episode: 20 January 2004)

Monday, May 26, 2014

The Feel Of Songs

Songs, especially those that you were quite fond of when you were growing up, go beyond an auditory experience. Sometimes they have “feel” to them, as if they burrowed deep into your ear (and brain) and lodged themselves in such a way that you can feel them inside your head. And you know when something’s off.

Take the case of when my friends and I were on a 3+ hour drive from Chicago to Indianapolis. My friend Ben had Spotify, and we had an all-80s playlist (we’re all friends since high school). What we found out that when Spotify has several versions of a song, some of them can be covers, or worse, “multiplex” versions.

(Multiplex, for those too young to remember, were popular before videoke replaced karaoke. On a cassette tape, the vocals are placed on one track—say, the left channel—while the instrumentations are on the other. This way, someone singing karaoke can have a guide vocal track with variable volume level. Back then, producers of multiplex albums tried their best to replicate songs as close to the original as possible; in fact, some of them were near-perfect clones.)

So a song from Spotify would start playing, we’s listen to it, and usually after a few bars someone will say, “Hey, wait a minute. This song doesn’t feel right.”

Yes, “feel”. Sometimes we’d say, “Hey, that doesn’t sound right,” but when the song is almost as close to the original, it’s not the sound that you trust. You check how the song feels like as it’s hitting you. And it’s not just an purely auditory experience; in fact, you allow it to seep inside your ear, then let it roll around your head, and allow it to course all over your body. Yes, I actually listen to and with my body. And I can tell if the vocals flow differently, or the banging of the drums is off.

And when we do find the original song and play it, the three of us can instantly tell with our ears and (for me, at least) bodies that it is the real deal. “That’s it!” “That feels right.”

The body has a way of remembering.

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