The Chorus, Of Course
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The Band - "Jawbone"

1) You are a daily reader, but a newborn baby.
2) You are an irregular reader, in either sense, of Said the Gramophone.
3) You fondly remember the Summer of Rumours - the daily sing-alongs, the heavy thinking you did while listening to “Dreams,” the even heavier drinking while listening to “The Chain.” We spent our summer together, Dear Readers, all of us with our ears glued to the speakers, the needle of our record players digging right through to the bottom of our albums, until the grooves were holes and our erstwhile Rumourses rendered but broken vinyl. And so ended the Summer of Rumours, just in time for fall.

Welcome to the gateway into the Winter of the Band’s Self-Titled Sophomore Album, The Band, aka the Winter of The Band, aka the Winter of our Contentment! What a bunch of unassuming, musical workman geniuses do make up The Band! Here’s a piecemeal and plodding song, by no means their most perfect, yet it contains a chorus of such pure, moving brilliance as to exert a wrenching pressure in my chest every g-d time I hear it. And speaking of g-d … Every g-d song on the whole of The Band has a moment nearly as powerful, as surprising. To list the specifics would be like listing all of the Real Numbers, i.e. impossible, but trust me when I say that they appear on every song and between every two there is another, ad infinitum. Epistemologically problematic? On the contrary, my babies:

The chorus I present to you here holds a clue to the infinite goodness contained elsewhere on the album. The thing that The Band does better than anyone and do better here than anywhere else is The Wait, The Drag, The Fall-Behind. It’s just a moment really, just a second of holding back, of speeding up, of finding the tempo. Nothing more than a stutter at the beginning of each of the vocal riffs that makes up the chorus, yet each one is harder to wait through, more agonizing than the last. It’s easy to sit in judgement of a man who, like the singer of this song, drank himself to despair, to death, really, with Grand Marnier. That sickly orange liqueur; what an indignity! But what must it have been like to live in the world with such a skewed sense of time? Sit through one of those pauses and you will miss work, lose your job. Another and your girlfriend will leave you (she can’t wait forever). A third (and in each chorus there are three) and you will be quaffing a snifter of triple sec, asking yourself how this man lasted as long as he did. After all, we must keep warm somehow this winter. [Let's winter together.]


Buffaloswans - "Long Hundred Picture"

If you think Richard Manuel is the only member of the The Band who understands The Wait, just listen to “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down,” and tell me that Levon Helm doesn’t have a firm grasp on the manoeuvre. Of course, Helm also has the power of heart-breaking minimalism, of hitting the snare drum once less often than you think possible. Such is the way also of Buffaloswans’ drummer, who sounds his snare on every 2, without fail and nowhere else. It’s as if, in the mind of the drummer, there were no other beat in the bar.

Tonight Buffaloswans will release their self-titled debut album in their hometown of Vancouver. Based on the songs I’ve heard, it’s a record that should sit alongside the work of The Band in the annals of strong Canadian Americana, and its release comes just in time for the Late Fall of Buffalowans, currently underway. [Info]

Posted by Jordan at November 15, 2007 11:37 PM

You are too kind. Thanks alot for the comparison/ question: What does The Late Fall of Buffaloswans mean? And why didn't you invent it sooner?

Thanks again!

Posted by Buffaloswans at November 16, 2007 3:51 PM

c'mon - buffaloswans are not the reincarnation of the band. they are good, but they are not what they seem. nor are their songs anywhere close to the majesty of the band's. and one more thing: the buffaloswans don't have a richard manuel, rick danko, levon helm, garth hudson, and their robertson is no longer around.

Posted by citizen anonymous at November 17, 2007 5:06 PM

Sounds like you know them, but whatevr that song sounds a helluvalot like the Band in spirit to me.I sense bitterness. In the song and in your words. Maybe art imitates life and art all at once.

Posted by graham at November 19, 2007 4:44 PM

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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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