OK, time I covered some more recent stuff. Not least to prove that I’m still alive and listening. But mostly because there’s so much great stuff around these days. So the next 5 posts are all about recent(ish) tracks from the 2000′s. Except this one, which is a full 15 years old but still smells as beautiful as a freshly cut rose.
Lambchop are one of a kind. They were originally a shifting collective of musicians from the Nashville area based around the unique voice and songwriting of Kurt Wagner. Quite a collective actually – there were 13 of them plus a string quintet when they created ‘Theöne’. More recently they’ve become a stable and much smaller band. But back in their earlier days they were a collective, whose members had ‘proper’ jobs (Kurt layed wooden floors during the day) and seemed to come and go fairly randomly, but whose music was always consistently magical.
‘Theöne’ is one of those magical moments. It might appear on the surface to be ‘just’ another love song about a girl. Listen carefully to the words and just as importantly, listen to the fragility of the music and the almost spoken voice and it’s a lot more focussed than that.
Yes ‘Theöne’ is about being madly in love with someone. In its own way it’s as uplifting and joyous as say Carole King’s ‘Natural Woman’ (see ABON 0007). But to me its focus is different, its target a little more left field - it’s about how it feels to be in a place located after falling deeply in love but before you’ve reached some kind of promised land together.
As in ’Natural Woman’ there’s the ecstasy, the pounding heart, the miracle of realising that you’ve finally found ‘the one’, the love of your life. But whereas Carole’s performance is all rawness and naturalness and nothing to hide – a naked evocation of how it feels when you are that in love; Lambchop’s performance contains fragility and vulnerability and a little opaqueness - suggesting something a little more uncertain.
Carole’s song is set in the red hot core of two people being absolutely in love with each other. She couldn’t hide it if she tried. And she doesn’t want to anyway. Kurt’s is set in the earlier, equally wonderful, but earlier discovery of being absolutely in love. Perhaps before the confidence provided by that love turning into something more equally shared.
If you analyse the lyrics I think this is where they take you. But the beauty of ‘Theöne’, the reason it’s such a wonderful thing, is that you don’t need to do that. Before you even start to examine the lyrics, the fragility and vulnerability of the voice and the strings tell you, make you feel, that this is what the song is about. If the only lyrics in the entire piece were the two words ‘the one’, the remainder of the performance would still make the meaning absolutely clear.
Available on the album ‘How I Quit smoking’ along with at least two other stonewall classics: Amazon