Posts Tagged ‘You Had Time’

Beautiful passage from Nick Hornby’s book ’31 Songs’ that I am reading now.

‘You Had Time’ sets itself a further handicap : it begins with more than two minutes of apparently hopeful and occasionally discordant piano noodling. I know, I know – neither ‘Baby Let’s Play House’ nor ‘(Hit Me) Baby One More Time’ begins with piano noodling, and they wouldn’t have been much good if they had; that’s not what pop is supposed to be about. But DiFranco’s song is nothing if not ambitious, because what it does – or, at any rate, what it pretends to do – is describe the genesis of its own creation : it shows its workings in a way that should delight any maths teacher. When it kicks off, the noodling sounds impressionistic, like a snatch of soundtrack for an arty but emotional film – maybe Don’t Look Now, because the piano has a sombre, churchy feel to it, and you can imagine Donald Sutherland and Julie Christie wandering around Venice in the cold, grieving and doomed. But it cheers up a little, when DiFranco makes out that she’s suddenly hit upon the gorgeous little riff that gives the song its spine. She’s not quite there yet, because she hasn’t found anything to do with her left hand, so there’s a little bit more messing about; and then, as if by magic (although of course we know that it’s merely the magic of hard work and talent) she works out a counterpoint, and she’s there. Indeed, she celebrates the birth of the song by shoving the piano out of the way and playing the song proper on acoustic proper – the two instruments are fused together with a deliberately improbable seamlessness on the recording, as if she wants us to see this as a metaphor for the creative process, rather than as the creative process itself. It’s a sweet idea, a fan’s dream of how music is created; I’d love to be a musician precisely because a part of me believes that this is exactly how songs are born, just as some people who are not writers believe that we are entirely dependent on the appearance of a muse.

–  From Nick Hornby’s essay on the song ‘You Had Time’ by Ani DiFranco

You can hear ‘You Had Time’  here.

Do listen to it and tell me whether you agree with Hornby 🙂

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