Friday, April 08, 2005

Song of the Week 4/8/05

Josh Rouse - "It's the Nighttime"

It's not often that one person's love for a certain artist is so strong that one would be compelled to go see that artist without owning a single piece of music from their catalog. Heck, I've tried for almost a decade to get people to see The Figgs using my my persuasive power, and in some case, alcohol bribery. Whenever I've succeeded, I feel like it's an amzing achievement.

Now I'm not sure how my fellow Brooklyn to Midtown commuter Moria feels about having done just that (somehow I'm sure I will find out after this post), but it was her pure love of Josh Rouse's music that directly led me to my activity for this evening--seeing Josh Rouse perform at Irving Plaza.

Now I have seen the man in the past--as a matter of fact, in the guise of my day job I interviewed him in 2000 about his second album, Home. I vaguely recall liking the disc, but I don't have it in my collection now. I think I may have given it away to a co-worker or (more likely) sold it on St. Mark's Place to feed one of my various addictions. What I do remember about the interview is that Rouse was big into cooking, and we spent the last third of the interview chatting about cooking and the recipes he listed on his site.

Fast forward to January 2005: I've known Moria for just over a month, and its already apparent to me that we have one of those very rare person-to-person music connections that come around just a few times in a person's life. I can count the number of people I've had this bond with on just one hand. (Check the 1999 Reynolds Top 20 List for those other folks.) Since Moria and I click on this level, I figure I should check out whatever she raves about, as there's a 90% chance I'm going to like it.

So in one of our numerous email conversations she mentioned that she saw Josh Rouse on the street in Brooklyn, and how much she loves his music. A couple of days later I got a copy of Nashville, Rouse's new album, and I immediately burned a copy because I know she needed this disc fast, just like an old booze hound needs his first drink of the day at 8:00 a.m. I also decided that I should give this album more than my patented "Listen For Two Songs And Then Eject It Rapidly, Mumbling Disgustedly Under My Breath 'This Disc Sucks'" treatment.

And here's the thing with Nashville--it doesn't suck. Rouse's diverse tales of heartbreak (some likely inspired by his 2004 divorce) are catchy yet uncomfortable in how close they cut to the bone in nailing failed relationships. I always thought of Nashville (the city) as a place where sadness thrived in music--and was commercially successful as the same time. Alas, most of America won't hear this disc as much as they would, say, the latest from Kenny Chesney, but that's the topic for a whole other site, nay, book.

So to get back to the Song of the Week, ever since I decided in late March that I should go see Rouse play based on the one disc that I owned, I found myself drawn to "It's the Nighttime." The entire track is masterful, but what reeled me in is when the last chorus rolls around. Rouse harmonizes with himself on the final line, "It's the nighttime baby/Don't let go of my love." But when he sings "love" this time, he streches the syllable out, and squeezes all the heartbreak out of it by singing "looooooooooooooovvvvvvvvvvveeeee." (Gosh, that looks stupid in print.) I listened to this song everyday on my way to work this week, and I heard it twice on WFUV, as if they wanted to put an exclamation point on my story.

So thanks WFUV, and thanks to Moria for giving me a music passion transfusion that a cranky old man definitely needed.

1 comment:

moria said...

i feel so proud. rambling about josh until you took the chance and listened to him repeatedly is the least i could do to repay you for all the great music you've given to me.

my gift = josh
your gift = paul