Please note: MP3s are only kept online for a short time, and if this entry is from more than a couple of weeks ago, the music probably won't be available to download any more.


Percy Sledge - "Come Softly To Me"

There's nothing quite like being thrust from sleep into an unexpected situation. Each time we wake up we are acclimatized to this world anew. Mostly this is an indiscernible process - a quick, confused moment, passed before we're fully conscious. But sometimes, when we wake to a surprise, our bodies and minds fight each other to get their bearings: our hearts race and our brains drag. For instance, imagine my surprise this morning when I looked out of my office window to find below me a fruit grove replete with lemon, persimmon, and pomegranate trees. The old grove exuded a dignity surpassed only by the the gnarled pines standing straight and high above it with neatly coiffed heads of green hair. Between these, on this perfectly clear day, I could see St. Peter's Basilica. Ah, Roma, I thought, quale buona sorpresa.

I'd be equally surprised to find out that "Come Softly To Me" was not recorded in a similarly surprised morning state. Perhaps Percy awoke to find recording engineers setting up a studio in his bedroom - a situation that would shock the most easygoing among us. Perhaps he searched the room for something familiar to ground him, though nothing - not even his white linen bedsheets, his white silk pajamas, nor his white on white paintings - could do the trick. Until, that is, his eyes came to rest on his lover sleeping next to him in bed. By this time, the band had already been playing for almost eight bars, but only now did Percy begin to understand what was going on. A white mic descended in front of his face and he began to whisper a love song, not to his lover - no, he whispered so he would not wake her - but about her, to everyone else; so that we all might know his hope that his lover would always be there when he awoke from now on - a fixed point of reference in a frightening, constantly shifting life. And when his soliloquy came to an end, the horn and string sections began to play right beside Percy's lover's ear, yet so softly that she did not awaken; not then, nor ever. She was dead. No, I kid (?). [Buy]

Posted by Jordan at December 27, 2006 7:26 AM

Wow, beautiful song. I can imagine the white microphone. Makes my heart ache.

Enjoy Rome, sir. Be sure to visit that marvelous big park with the strange trees. Rent a bicycle, mosey around. Then descend the steps to the big round piazza, buy a gelato, saunter down a street while the scooters zip by.

Posted by Sean at December 27, 2006 9:37 AM

I never realized strings and horns could sound so gentle in a song. It almost made "Clear Skies" sound somehwat boisterous.
But really liked your post today. Good music, good writing, imagery...

Posted by J.S. at December 27, 2006 10:24 AM

I decided to smoke a quick bowl before leaving for work and then I read this article and immedietly called in sick. My world has been shaken and I'm thinking of starting over.

Posted by lobsterturtle at December 27, 2006 10:46 AM

beautiful review. i was nearly deeper touched by your words than by the music. your words flow naturally like a writers voice. together with the music your review creates a kind of unknown wxperience for me, kind of like being to a concert with some poet, and suprisingly finding his shadow next to you describing the words of his owner.
like being told the truth.

Posted by johannes at December 27, 2006 11:54 AM

I don't think you mean "neatly quaffed," as "quaff" means to drink. You want "coiffed," as in "coiffure," or hairdo. Oh and good post.

Posted by John at December 27, 2006 9:11 PM

Thank you all.

Posted by Jordan at December 28, 2006 3:26 AM

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Sean Michaels is the founder of Said the Gramophone. He is a writer, critic and author of the theremin novel Us Conductors. Follow him on Twitter or reach him by email here. Click here to browse his posts.

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