Tuesday, January 10, 2012

2. Big Star, "Nightime" (1974)


At the time I was getting to know this song, in the mid-'80s with the vinyl release of the Third album by Big Star with the big blue cover and liner notes by Howard Wuelfing, I was pretty busy myself with a life full of "At night time I go out and see the people," and I felt about it much the same way the singer here sounds, dismal and sour and maybe a little studiously bored. "And dressing so sweet, all the people to see"—there we go. Those details caught my attention but really it was the mood of it that seemed to swallow me whole, even from the first, a sound that runs all through the near-score of great tracks that cluster around this album. But gradually I focused on this song as I came to realize the plight of the singer was my own at the time. "I'm walking down the freezing street / Scarf goes out behind," he sings. It sounds like the loneliest street of all time. I think I walked it too. Then suddenly the song swells into its raw climax, a bleating from the bottom of the soul that never plays quietly in the background for me: "Get me out of here / get me out of here / I hate it here / get me out of here." I connected with what this song was saying and with how it felt all at the same time, and in many ways I followed that trebling vocal performance across a couple thousand miles, Pied Piper style, into a new life in a new city. This is really a dark moment that is captured here, but rendered so purely and so absolutely that it becomes a moment of exaltation as much as anything, and hope too.

1 comment:

  1. I think you captured the feeling of this beautiful song perfectly.