Monday, November 26, 2007


Enough with sordid! How about something sweet, then. On the sweet, gauzy Andalucia, John Cale and his buddies from Little Feat create a modest little melt-in-your-mouth confection. It's soothing, quiet, and more reminiscent of Vintage Violence than anything else on Paris 1919.

Alright, instrumentally, it does borrow liberally from George Harrison's recording of Dylan's "If Not for You," but the vocal line is something else entirely. It's a strained vocal, and Cale seems on the verge of going out of tune the whole time. And yet this works, somehow - the weakness of the voice brings out a humble grace in a song that a more assured vocal might make cloying. On the other hand, too weak a vocal might make the song seem sickly (as does Ira Kaplan's on the otherwise graceful Yo La Tengo cover version). Cale walks the line between and makes it work.

The lyric mostly fits with Paris's continental diversions, though the "Farmer John" bit always strikes me as odd. Possibly because it makes me think of the 1959 song by Don & Dewey, but also because it doesn't seem to fit with the album's very Eurocentric namechecking. The lyric at large is more vague than most of the album, but gets a lot of mileage out of the ambiguity of the addressee - is it a woman or a Spanish state?

The real genius of the song: it gracefully ends the first arc of the album, offers ear candy to encourage repeat listens, and lulls the listener into a calm that Macbeth can more effectively shatter. It's perfect where it is, right at the center of Cale's best album.


Ian said...

Seriously, Cale recorded with members of Little Feat? My mind, she is blown.

Jack Feerick said...

Yup. Lowell George, Richie Hayward, and Billy Payne are all over Paris 1919; Wilton Felder from the Jazz Crusaders played bass (and ended up selling Lowell a Bible, or so the story goes...).

Anonymous said...

This album, and this song in particular, remind me of memories of christmas. The whole arrangement seems shrouded in snow and nostalgia somehow. perhaps one of the most evokative melodies i've heard. incredibly visual too. so... yeah i like it!