tremble clef

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Deborah Harry, "Two Times Blue (Nickel & Dime Mix)" (2007)

I only played Necessary Evil three, four times when it was released last month. Because, duh, it's not a very good record, though I like the single "Two Times Blue" quite a bit. But it was also a difficult album to sit through for another reason. No longer able to hit the high notes, Debbie's voice pierces my heart even when it reaches the low ones -- or when it starts a song, as is the case with "Two Times Blue," in a disconcertingly low register that she wouldn't have chosen twenty years ago. Those notes only remind me of what could be. I sometimes tell myself that a voice can be richer, more flavorful as it gets coarser, whether due to bad habits (smoking? whiskey?) or "simply" age. I do this with Sarah Cracknell's, for example, and there I am still capable of being comforted by my own falsehoods. But, at other times -- most times with Debbie -- I wince and mourn.

Years ago I yanked a mini-cassette out of an answering machine. There was one message on it, from this man. He had an especially distinctive way of saying hello when I picked up the phone, which I would recognize to this day had I but chance: hey-ay?!, stretched out into multiple syllables, a drawl of sorts, as if he was delightedly surprised to speak with me even though it would be he who called. I liked this man, he liked me too, but not enough perhaps, etc: you know the story. After one fight, and three dozen attempts at "being friends," too many, I knew I needed to make a clean break, or as clean as I could bear. So that last message he left me went unanswered, though not to say unheeded. And yet to this day, somewhere in my apartment is that tape, waiting to be replayed, as if it hasn't already been countless times in my head; and, so, I know what it's like, you see, to try but fail to hold on to a voice.


  • On the one hand, this is why tapeless electronic answering machines are evil. What one wants, I hope, is the freedom to re-listen to messages and re-experience others' wonderful idiosyncrasies, even if that freedom just sits in a box for years.

    On the other hand, let's say that you know where that box was, and had a machine on which to play the tape. What would rise to the top of the memory: the delight in the hey-ay, or the fight? And how far away would the voice seem, even if the machine were at your fingertips? Perhaps these desires to control the past are desires to be extirpated, and boxes with such tapes should be taken to the trash.

    Thanks for this, Brittle.

    By Anonymous esque, at 8:13 PM  

  • Mine is certainly a desire to extirpate. And my problem, one of many, is that as usual I cannot. That I have never replayed the tape is the closest I can come, which has to be good enough for now.

    By Blogger Brittle, at 12:12 AM  

  • Bingo, and I'll go one further. It's just plain awful.

    By Blogger John, at 1:20 AM  

  • True dat. Sadly.

    By Blogger Brittle, at 5:57 PM  

  • By Blogger Yaro Gabriel, at 9:07 AM  

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