by Sean
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.


Bill Cosby - "Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band".
Charles Wright - "Express Yourself".

Let's see if you can follow this:

I aspire to dance like Bill Cosby.
Bill Cosby dances like he sings.
Bill Cosby aspires to sing like Charles Wright.
Charles Wright sings like so.

If you're able to follow this chain, you'll have learned that I aspire to dance like so. That is, like Charles Wright singing "Express Yourself". The secret to understanding how he sings this song - and to how I aspire to dance, - is in observing the way he drops the "uh". He doesn't so much drop it as set it down, plant it, make sure it's good-to-grow. He drops it like something dropped into Archimedes' bath, a moment before Eureka. He drops it like it's nothing special (& it isn't, it's just an uh, and a dance is just a dance), and like it's something special (& it is, it's a motherfucking uh, and a dance is never just a dance).

On dark afternoons it's possible to doubt the power that music can have. You imagine an inert dead body. You think of foreign wars. You watch the stars come out in silence. And at these times it's important to put on a song like "Express Yourself", one of the most potent human works ever created, a thing that says more in bass and horns and uh than I expect I'll manage to say in my whole unmusical life. Something more splendid than we, sinning and muddled, have any right to.

Bill Cosby's "Sgt Pepper" doesn't fill me with the same awe. But when he says "Boys", and is answered, well - it's really really funny.

(I've written about "Express Yourself" twice before, but I've still never ever been able to say it right. I'll keep trying.)

Posted by Sean at May 7, 2007 9:08 PM

I'm glad when you point out the certain touches in songs, like the 'uh', because it all becomes perfectly clear when I finally hear what you're talking about; like some great unveiling.

Also, that Bill Cosby song is something else..

Posted by Dylan at May 8, 2007 3:59 AM

Thanks for those tips..

Posted by LPC at May 8, 2007 5:32 AM

"It's not what you look like when you're doing what you're doing, it's what you're doing when you're doing what you look like you're doing."

I think that says it all, really.

Posted by Tyler at May 9, 2007 1:22 AM

That is just a fing riot.

By the way, we just published the top 25 indie albums of all time and the top 5 indie labels (according to your readers). Now we're looking for the women of indie. I'd love to get your votes. (And your readers, too.)

Please come by and vote, and tell your friends!

Posted by Ekko at May 9, 2007 5:56 AM

The funny thing is, Sean, taht last night I roped some friends into helping me out with some production work in my studio. While they sat on my couch and cut multi-colored leaves with pinking shears, I played them Charles Wright & The 103rd Street Rhythm band. "Ladies," I said, (when Express Yourself came on) "I wish we all just punctuated our sentences with "uh" like that, all the time. Listen to how good it sounds." They looked at me a bit cockeyed, but no matter.

This morning, I woke up and read your comments on the same. Funny, no?

Posted by bdw at May 10, 2007 11:25 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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