Monday, January 18, 2010

And So It Goes

And So it Goes

A day off. Hooray! It was a lovely, peaceful day that went somewhat contrary to plan. I had my day planned out pretty much to the minute, as is my custom, on a couple of hot pink sticky notes. But I discovered that my boyfriend also had the day off, so the day started off with pancakes and Simpsons instead of whatever was on the post-it.

The day took a bit of a sinister turn in the evening when my boyfriend pointed out the empty parking space in front of our apartment, where my friend's car had been until some unknown point in the afternoon. Turns out it had been stolen (er, towed) by the NYPD, because my 90-year-old neighbor told the cops it had been abandoned. No warning or anything. My friend is pretty pissed that the only recourse she has is to sue my nonagenarian neighbor who was just looking out for his 'hood. As for myself, I'm relieved that it was towed and not stolen, not least since I sleep about 20 feet from where she was parked.

I had planned to go to some friends' show, but ended up staying in, waiting for a police officer to bring me the paperwork my friend needs to get her car back. I should say, I had a good excuse to stay in. I really wanted to go out, but I needed the alone time even more. Sometimes being alone with my piano (as I was all day, once I tore myself away from the Simpsons) doesn't count.

I would like it to be known that today's song is an example of extreme compliance with Rule #2. Love. It.

Officially, "And So It Goes" is in C major, but it likes to hover around the relative minor an awful lot. Come to think of it, so does "I'd Like to Hate Myself in the Morning", only in that song, the effect is more slinky than solemn. Here's what I like: every time we come to that A minor, we land on an A minor sus on the downbeat, then resolve the D down to the C on the second beat. There is none of the plaintive dissonance of B against C natural - except once. In the last verse, on the lyric, "but you can make decisions too", on "too", he voices the chord with the B suspended against the C. Listen to it, it's easier than me explaining it further.

I like that the A minor-11 voicing has a sort of controlled poignancy. As if he's saying, "Here I am, making this decision to let you into my heart, and I am going to pretend I'm ok with the risk of pain." And by the final verse, he can't pretend anymore: "But, oh yeah, you can make decisions too, so I'm not completely in control of this situation ow ow ow half-step poignant can't-live-with-you-can't-live-without-you" (yes, I'm mixing my pop stars here, I know)...

I know, I know, this is a tiny detail, and it's only present in the piano part of Billy Joel's recorded version of the song. On a lead sheet, the chord structure is the same in every verse, and in other versions, the pianists throw in that A minor-9 chord with impunity, seemingly without respect for the arc of the story. Maybe they're not anal retentive like I am. Or maybe they just exist in a different sector of the musical universe than I do. I exist in the sector that houses and employs a lot of singers and actors. I love singers and actors. Someone's got to; they need tolerant pianists. And I think the world needs pianists who give a damn about the voicing of an A minor chord on a particular lyric.

I was gonna write a lot more about lyrics and how I love them, but even days off (especially days off) come to an end, and it's now past two in the morning. So we make plans, and they go awry, and we try to control the resulting dissonance. And so it goes.

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