Sunday, February 15, 2015

Black peter

Indulge me.

There is a song I can't get out of my head these days. I wander around the backroom of the library singing it. I am unreasonably loud, but terribly earnest. It plays in my head at every moment of the day, into the night, on my walks, in the air. If someone steps away from that one computer we have, over by the phones, the only one with speakers (my speakers!), I immediately slip in and set the song playing. I just have to hear it one more time. I gather my co-workers around. No, this is it, I say, pretending that somehow they might care. In that moment I can't imagine how they can't, just, technically it is beyond the power of my imagination. I am riveted. 

Fever roll up to a hundred and five
Roll on up
gonna roll back down

This sort of fever happens to me occasionally. Usually it involves songs that hit some kind of piercing moment of intensity, songs with a peak. These sometimes involve a short string of broken, raggedly, perfectly harmonizing voices. That's what it is this time. It's the rhythm, that thudding, moseying, bouncing guitar, that cracking apart voice, and something about the words, those words, but mostly it's that peak, or not mostly, fundamentally. I can hear the song straining to be released from the song itself. I can hear the song starting to come out  of the song. I can almost believe it will tear it open.

And then, no. Just the song. A sad song. And it's over.

Of course, I can point out the peak to you at precisely 3:39, but to get all of it you'd need  the time from 3:00 to about 3:50, but, fairly enough, it probably works best if you just listen to it over and over and over and over. There is no portion alone that can tell you about my fever for it.

Tonight I listened to every live version of the song I could find, but the band could never again seem to hit that 3:39 thing in any of those live versions I heard. Ragged and beautiful harmonies are things of fate, and the Grateful Dead, as any fan will tell you, have always been at their best in the studio.

Black Peter

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