Thursday, May 10, 2007

Mr. Wilson

The lead track of 'Slow Dazzle' is "Mr. Wilson," a partly-ironic and partly-sincere tribute to Brian Wilson. (And also, I've heard, Harold Wilson, but I dunno about that.) It's a very light song with an acid center, which makes it hard to interpret. If I had to try, I'd say that Cale is identifying with Wilson ("Take your mixes, not your mixture/Add some music to our day", "Whisper whisper, got a monkey on my back") and that it quite scares him. Though that probably fits his future career trajectory too closely to be true. Anyway, what that has to do with Annette Funicello or the movies he mumbles ("I know your movies/'In the Sea' and 'Serenade'"), I've got no idea.

It's a strong though too-cute piece of music, with deliciously cheesy string/xylophone/choir (mellotron?) arrangements and repetitive electric piano chords played staccato. Some jauntily syncopated drumming on the sinister middle eight is a treat to hear. This has an interesting form: two times verse + chorus, a middle eight + chorus, and a coda. I should note: in the coda, despite the ironic and mysterious lyric "California wine tastes fine," all musical irony drops out and only a frankly affecting string part and vocal harmonies are left.

3 comments:

kaggsy said...

Hi - love the blog - great idea! However, I kind of disagree with your interpretation of Mr. Wilson, which is one of my favourite Cale songs. JC has a long documented admiration of The Beach Boys, and I think the song relates back to his youth in Wales, listening to Radio Luxembourg and other stations and being desperate to get out of small-town Britain. I find the "Wales is not like California in any way" line to be incredibly moving and I think Mr. Wilson is one of JC's more autobiographical moments.

Keep up the good work!

Inverarity said...

This song is extremely popular with a few French Beach Boys fans:
http://www.blogotheque.net/mp3_art.php3?id_article=3096

As is, inexplicably, Dixieland and Dixie. But we'll get to that in a bit.

Johnny B said...

Wilson and the Beach Boys contributed songs to a couple of beach party flicks (as well as made guest appearances) in the 60's, plus of course the Boys' whole identification with that scene in general- that probably inspired the "I know your movies" line. I would imagine that that was the first place Cale would have seen them as a very young man...