Saturday, November 23, 2013

Fairweather Friend

I've always been disappointed in "Fairweather Friend". Cale's closing tracks tend to be memorable; this isn't. Cale writes well and often of the disappointments of friendship; this song's title comes from a throwaway lyric. And, of course, it isn't even an original song - it's a Garland Jeffreys cover. (I'm not sure Jeffreys ever recorded a version, though.) But this is my problem, not the song's. It didn't ask for my expectations.

In fact, it's a perfectly fine track that fits well with the album. Its vaguely travel- and adventuring-themed images aren't far from the other songs'. The jaunty rhythm and unserious delivery brings the listener back into the mood of the early tracks after the one-two punch of resigned sorrow in "Amsterdam" and serious creepiness in "Ghost Story". And, seeing as Garland Jeffreys played and sang on Vintage Violence, it was rather classy of Mr. Cale to cover him. (And, hey, the saloon piano, especially the rolls around the two minute mark, is just a joy.)

Jeffreys is still recording and performing today, but he doesn't seem to do this number. I'm fairly sure Cale has never played it live. I suspect the song is best left an artifact of this particular studio.

So: listen to this album when you want light, expansive orchestral pop adventure fun. Enjoy this song for what it is. I do. But someday I hope I find a song like the one I expected the first time I played this record.