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Sunday, May 7, 2017

Number 3 - "Say Valley Maker", Smog

Smog, aka Bill Callahan

Say Valley Maker - Smog

A River Ain't Too Much to Love (2005)

And a big welcome everyone to probably my largest personal indulgence of the countdown.

No, this wasn't on any other lists, Smog wasn'y on many full stop. Both situations are wrong. This album is possibly my favourite of the decade. Smog/Bill Callahan (although somehow the eponymous releases were kind of B grade) would have to vie for the title of its greatest singer-songwriter.

If readers have been following at all, they'll have already discerned that this particular commentator values above all else sell-crafted simplicity and poecy in songwriting above almost all else. And this simply excelled at both to an extent in my musical pantheon that this was always going top five.

It's just a beautiful song, but it's little more than a two chord arpeggio. It is however perfectly married to a lyric strong enough to virtually carry the song itself. Callahan's incredible bass emotes to the exactingly calibrated level he's perfected, hovering perpetually between irony and pathos. And some weight it hefts around.

"With the grace of a corpse in a riptide/I let go/and I slide, slide, slide/downriver"

But it's the repeating sections "There is no love ..." and most particularly the "Bury me in wood" 'crescendo' that concludes the song that render it truly memorable. These can scarcely be done justice in printed reproduction. But it's this section in particular which really earns this song it's spot amongst the decade's mightiest.

But if anyone's ever written a better pop lyrics than "bury me in fire/and I'm gonna phoenix", I'm keen to know what it is.

Because that's just one of the most perfect twenty seconds of songwriting you'll ever hear.