monday song #17: a great fall
number 17. dave balon’s number. he scored four goals against the north stars in the first ranger game i ever saw way back in 1971. he became my favorite. my brothers laughed, cause he was not a star. he had a monstrous comb-over.
i meant this as a random reference, until i looked him up and recalled that he was later diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. and i just now found out that he died two years back, at age 68. in his final years he had lost the power to speak.
i’ve had the music for the verse and chorus for this on my disc drive for a couple years now. i loved the feeling of the fifths, which give it an open and somewhat disorienting mood. that harmonic hollowness led me to the theme, someone who took a chance, but now lies broken on the ground. the helper’s voice comes from far away. muffled by shock and pain.
i keep citing paul mccartney, but this one is more john lennon. the plodding piano, the horizontal melody with moments of vertical beauty. also, this one owes a debt to early genesis. i wish i had peter gabriel’s broken tenor, but i’ll have to settle for my owe strained baritone.
the bridge and release were put together as i recorded. the out-of-body experience, the floating toward death, the peace and solidity of the end. i have to tip my hat to thomas newman here, whether from “american beauty” or “six feet under” (both works conceived by alan ball), the sound brings a seriousness and solemnity. i should also mention andy partridge of xtc, whose “rook” and “summer festival” both offer a feast of fifths and loving sadness.
i was going to call the song “humpty dumpty,” but i felt it was too on the nose. i didn’t want to solidify the metaphor, but to leave it open. to me, the egg within is creativity, the fertile mind, that can leak away if you fall too hard. i never thought of humpty dumpty as dead at the end, but rather in the state of being irrevocably broken. not sure which is worse.
the song is dedicated to mr. balon.