Saudade: ‘is a deep emotional state of nostalgic or profound melancholic longing for something or someone that one cares for and/or loves.’ you know that music has to have this, and it has many sound manifestations, but here we look at a simple form: slow songs. it is not like I needed to discover the appeal of this in music, but truly needed to find ways to learn the language, and these songs were key to provide such a dictionary.
- “Mercy Mercy Me” : yes, it was “Got To Give it Up” that led me to Marvin Gaye, but it was a single song, while he remained anonymous. it was not until this song that I began to trust him as a guide towards Soul music. not sure show many copies of this album I have bought over the years, given the squeeze from labels for their vault material, but I do not mind. it brings a pleasure few albums can bring… and the longing expressed within is exemplary.
- “Scene at the Open Air Market” : speaking of a group with an album titled Saudade, this kind of downtempo music was a revelation. it hit on the Latin roots, without the aspects of it that bore me. Thievery Corp was the template, the Tenzing Norgay, into downtempo music from this first LP of theirs. after the craze for this still, not much survives these days but for the early albums from Theivery Corp.
- “The Book Lovers”: deep into Stereolab and their Duophonic label, I grabbed the first single from Broadcast. I loved what this offered, in that, like Stereolab, it was an opening into a 60s sound that was new to me. little did I know, or anticipate, how critical this group was to become. no matter, one needs a bait to get into how a group is going to inform music onto us, and one could not ask more than this one.
- “The Rip” : everyone loves Portishead, and many accolades are given. I was nonplussed about them until this third album that clicked so well, and the solo album from Beth Gibbons was also crucial. the song “Show”, from Out of Season, can sit comfortably in here, so it was a toss-up as to which to choose. will it be proper to say that Beth is the Billy Holiday of modern times?
- “You Don’t Know What Love Is” : for purists, this was not a great Billy Holiday album. her glass of water while singing was actually vodka, and her end was near. not knowing much about her, this was my first exposure and I fell in love with her voice— crackled, off-key, and all the decay that had befallen her. there are 3 key “Sunday morning” albums, and this is one of them. this album was also key to come to appreciate Frank Sinatra a few years later.
- “Things Behind The Sun” : what a title! the way the mind can be let go to this concept… and the song is sublime. surely, everyone post-Volkswagen commercial would point to “Pink Moon” as the songs into Nick Drake. eventually, after considering the first two albums as his best work, there is a slap in the forehead that comes after the realisation that it is really this one: the zenith of simplicity in Saudade. another of the 3 favourite Sunday morning records.
- “Morning Paper” : not Bill Callahan‘s (or Smog) most loved song, but this song and album ( Red Apple Falls ) had to simmer to catch onto his work. the expression of Saudade from him may not be obvious, given his imagery… like trying “Our Anniversary” or “Dress Sexy At My Funeral”.
(concert photos of Bill Callahan can be found on his tag [ link ])
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