tremble clef

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Jay-Jay Johanson, "Rush" (2005)

It seems only appropriate to kick off this blog, which I've been "starting" for, oh, three, four months now, with a song called "Rush." Of all the songs that afford me this irony, this is possibly my favorite. Well, this week anyway, and they tell me that that's what blogs are all about: the moment. "Rush" also has the added merit of being current in a way that the other contenders -- say, Debbie Harry's or Paula Abdul's "Rush Rush," or Jane Wiedlin's "Rush Hour" -- are not. Which is not to say that Tremble Clef won't often post older tracks as well (or "most of the time": I'm not particularly, how you say, au courant). Really, this blog will feature whatever I'm listening to, or moves me, or calls up a memory, or perhaps just songs about which I have something to say.

With that semblance of a blog raison out of the way, let's consider Jay-Jay's current single. "Rush" is not, in many ways, an especially original track. Most obviously, it owes a big debt to "I'm Not In Love"; like that 10 cc track, Jay-Jay's electro-ballad coasts along on a bed of persistent synths. I know next to nothing about how music is actually made, but I am probably right to imagine that here, you basically put your finger on a key and, well, hold it. The word that always come to my mind to describe this sound is "ooze," and for me it is the sound of melancholia.

Aside from sharing the ooze factor, there's another way in which "Rush" recalls "I'm Not In Love." The latter track is almost a definitive example of a song about, and in self-denial. However hard and frequently Graham Gouldman proclaims that he is not in love, he is, of course, transparently smitten; indeed, the repeated proclamations, we recognize, are his efforts to convince himself to be out of love. "Rush" does something similar, but also different. Jay-Jay insists that he won't rush us, and he keeps his word insofar as the melody is slow, non-frantic. But underneath it all, the synths ooh and aah seductively, as if Jay-Jay is simply trying another way -- the measured but slinky way, baby -- to get his beloved, and us, to give in to him already.

What Jay-Jay wants us to give in to may not be apparent from the get-go. The lyric actually begins rather creepily. Is Jay-Jay just a psycho trying to deflower some coy virgin ("I might wait another year/But I can't promise anything")? Is he simply not understanding a part of the word "no"? On the evidence of the first few verses, possibly. As the song goes on, however, it becomes clearer that one of unrequited love. "I know you're still in love with me/I can see it in your eyes/You say you've forgotten me/But I'm sure it's only lies." By the time of that third verse, the song is no longer creepy, but reveals a singer who is just pathetically sad. What "Rush" does well -- or better than "I'm Not In Love," to continue the comparison -- is this sense of build-up (or let down, from another point of view). Where the latter is a series of repeated assertions that are patently false ("I'm not in love...I'm not in love...nope, I'm still saying I'm not in love with you"), "Rush" jumps right in without explaining to us what Jay-Jay is obsessed about, before revealing more slowly the depths of his sad denial at being unwanted. And if his girl finally seems unlikely to change her mind, at least we eavesdroppers might consider falling a little in love.


  • My God, you've got one obscure materpiece after another on here. Love this song - it is so smooth. Jay Jay does that well. This track is like the homebound sibling of "Automatic Lover" (is that it?). And YOU are like my doppleganger. bravo!

    By Blogger xolondon, at 7:03 PM  

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