Most songs are wholly based on repetition. John Hartford, the singer-songwriter, sometimes dancer, sometimes steamboat pilot, said something much like that long before me. If you fail to recognize Hartford’s name, perhaps you know his song “Gentle on my Mind,” made famous by Glen Campbell.
I have always liked John Hartford’s stuff. I own two of his albums. John Hartford was odd. He was a marriage of hippie and redneck. And he did not take shit seriously.
Hartford is, sadly, no longer with us. His name was actually “Harford,” but Chet Atkins (another famous musician) convinced him to change his last name to Hartford. Hartford was a descendant of Patrick Henry. Patrick Henry was the fellow famous for saying: “Give me liberty, or give me death” during our initial struggle for American independence. John Hartford was also first cousin to Tennessee Williams. Tennessee Williams was a famous Southern playwright. He wrote A Streetcar Named Desire and The Glass Menagerie.
Anyhow, back to the music.
The repetitious beats and the repeating notes—the sweet predictability—is much of what draws me (and likely you) into a song. This is why we might tap our feet or sway in a certain way as we listen. And there is something deeper that accesses me. Something primal. I don’t know how to explain this, but some songs can strike me as sad or joyous almost immediately. All of that, a function of the notes, the chords, the specific repetitions. Obviously, if the song is not strictly an instrumental, the vocals and lyrics will also contribute to the mood.
I cannot say that I prefer a happy sounding song to one that strikes me as sad.
Today I am posting a song that I find somber, yet hauntingly lovely. The song is particularly repetitions and unchanging. The song is fairly long. Strangely, more often than not, I will play this songs two or three times in a row when I listen to it.
Don’t know why I do that. I just do.
I give you Sun Kil Moon and their song Heron Blue.
--Mitchell HegmanIf the video posted here fails, please try this link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qkdsOWfSXME