[S]omething you don’t often come across is a perfect song. A perfect song is a simple song… it has to seem effortless, not conspired… almost conversational. Each word of each line has to count for something, like a complete puzzle revealing a larger picture. It needs to contain truths, but not without engaging the imagination. It’s all a delicate balancing act.
A perfect song needs both tension & resolution. And like any good work of art, there has to be a focal point… a moment that knocks you on your ass, that the other moments are building towards and are subservient to. The instrumentation has to set the correct mood, and can neither overpower nor underwhelm. The song needs room to breathe… the listener needs moments to reflect & interact with the story, to make it his own, without being distracted by instrumentation. And for a song to be perfect, it needs to acknowledge some kind of root; it needs to sound at once familiar and new.
The end result is that the listener is equally satisfied and wanting for more. A perfect song never gets old. It’s a fucking difficult thing to accomplish.
A couple months back I heard a perfect song. It’s called Waltz About Whiskey. And it’s by a band called Mandolin Orange.
There are beautiful instrumental passages, there’s gorgeous harmonies, & each time I listen to the final stanza I have to fight back tears. It’s like a goddamn George Jones song. (I’m, for one, glad to know that everything good & heartbreaking in this world didn’t pass along with good ol’ Possum.) It’s good to hurt a little bit sometimes, it’s life affirming. Music that hurts you & soothes you at the same time has a strange way of providing healing, often when we don’t even realize we need healing, though we all do at all times. That’s why songs like this are important. Perfect songs.
Listen to it a few times & tell me you don’t agree. You can get the record from Yep Roc here.