In a few minutes, I’m going to lay forth what I refer to as a deliberate experiment in banality. And I’m going to use as my case study, Mr. Big’s hit song, To Be With You as my central creative canvas.
But first, Let’s talk about the uber-talented author and singer of said song, Eric Martin.
This is a picture of Mr. Voice himself:
Compare this to contemporary Sherlock protagonist, Mr. Benedict Cumberbatch:
That’s all I’m sayin’. Something’s up people. I’m not sure his tour schedule bringing him through a protracted UK arc is telling us what’s up. I know I’m suspicious.
As an aside, I got to play alongside him in 2006, where he treated me as an equal, and came to some odd conclusion that I actually know how to play guitar. After he reads this, he may want to rethink ever extending that hospitality again. I simply cannot be trusted when it comes to fooling around with the creative bedrock of other people.
A brief history of messing with other people’s creative bedrock
Many years ago I was flailing away in the half light of auto-detail/working musician livelihoods . You know the deal—a young, vibrant and overbearing, quirky talent, getting ready to run on to the world field, but still swinging two bats in the dugout kind of half light.
While playing a guitar on some dubiously-fortified nightclub stage, no one ever walked up to me and said, “Hey brother, I heard you detail cars. Any way you could come over tomorrow and help me mitigate these unsightly water spots from my driver’s-side windshield?”
Nope. Not once. No glory to be found there.
Conversely, being the resident long-hair at this particular auto dealership in the 90’s had the same invitational hallmarks as being a nurse at a hypochondriacal Burning Man festival; every car salesman needed to vent their spleens about some adolescent-era dream of “wanting to play guitar.” Or–they wanted something worse.
They wanted help working on a “song they wrote.”
Time and time again, I helped these folks along, and sometimes with some degree of success at the level for which they were hoping. But once in a while, the request was so appallingly tone-deaf in its concept, that no amount of noodling, tweaking, rearranging and augmenting was going to prevent an impending train-wreck even a nearsighted Nostradamus could’ve seen coming.
That wasn’t the problem. The problem—was culling Casey Jones out of the engineer’s loft.
One automotive luminary approached me in the parking lot to inform me he had struck inspirational paydirt—with an idea that bridged:
- my musical chops
- modern rap
- a 60-second radio ad for the dealership that would contain these “sweet flows” written on the lined paper held in his hand.
Worse that that, he went ahead and “rapped” it for me while I tried not to lose continence. Mind you, this man’s level of musical caucasus was a strata that was so undiluted, that it literally walked the sidewalks of Rhythm and Harmony with a sandwich board that reads, I clap on the one and the three when that ditty gets going.
I simply couldn’t take it, what with him alliterating his Rs over and over again. I almost had him shanked right there for making me want to hear an accordion instead. I literally wound up leaving that job before he and his inspirational Rasputin finally got shoved under the ice in a bullet-ridden trauma.
The one day, I read this story about a cruse ship called the Norwegian Dawn that has some rough water that splashed over the edge and scared a few folks. By the time the pulled into an alternate port, the uninjured,and slightly put-off passengers walked off the ship comparing themselves to Titanic survivors.
Not being able to take it, I decided to blog my own mockery about the matter by rewriting Gordon Lightfoot’s Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald to draw the ridiculous highlight between an actual horror, and a comparative non-moment, by taking their mundane high-seas sagas and encasing them in the sacred rhymes of Lightfoot’s recap.
And it was fun. Reductionist potshots and the abstract transmogrification of known quantities is fun.
Speaking of known quantities, let us familiarize ourselves with the one-of-a-kind dulcet-tones of Mr. Martin, and his circa-1992 band of virtuosic ruffians, Mr. Big:
Aside from acknowledging that the man’s chromosomes must look like a bopping Kids Unlimited chorus under a microscope–one must–MUST be familiar with the rhythmic underpinnings and lyrics to even appreciate the atrocity I carved out last night.
That being said, I wax:
“To Be With You,” translated out of it’s pure, poetic longing, and mercilessly clawed into sleep-inducing, literalist gibberish
Admonishment to stop
and recall all his list of wrongs
Encouragement to stand
a once-removed heartache statement
a Circular truth claim
a bilateral claim that fate will maim
Petition for nearness
With positional focus
permission to be the one to show this
Statement of desire to close the gap
assumptions that is where the other person’s at
reference to a queue of psychedelic mats
to underscore desire to close the gap
A plea to undgergird
that makes one like the early bird
point made that open eyes dismiss
a toddler lad that likes to diss
Eye witness to love’s flame
and it’s anaolgy to a baseball game
Singlehood is compared
To a two-as–one and found wanting
Another raising life’s net worth
in return a note of a smile’s birth
So you ask me. Mr. Writer-Man, why in the world would you do this? Why do you feel the need to drag a perfectly-written, perfectly recorded piece of musical history through your dopey, opportunistic prism?
I’ll tell you why. If anything it proves that substance and expressive power are sometimes intangible. Lyrics such the ones in this relatively simple song are deceptively deep–and cut a much broader cross-section than my literalist tomfoolery tries to distill.
What I’m trying to say is: In failing, I have thus succeeded.
It’s greater than the sum of its parts as they say. And I’m going to tell him that when I see him.
On the set of Sherlock.