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.


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