Monday, April 5, 2010

I Heard It Through the Grapevine

I'm going to blame sleep-deprivation for the twenty minutes I just spent figuring out why my printer was still reading the black cartridge as empty, after I had just changed the ... color cartridge. Oh.

Today I learned "I Heard It Through the Grapevine". It was not what I expected at all! I thought I knew it - not to play, but, you know, recognize and sing along with. But the song in my head that I thought was "Grapevine" was actually a conglomeration of "Grapevine", "Big Girls Don't Cry", and "Takin' Care of Business." Thank you, 1980s television. Somewhere deep in the recesses of my memory, I remember plump, anthropomorphized California raisins and bran flakes dancing to this song in a Post Raisin Bran commercial, and somehow it got mixed in with Sesame Street's "Big Birds Don't Fly". Not sure where "Takin' Care of Business" came from, but I have definitely had
"I heard it through the grapevine (Every day!)
heard it through the grapevine (every way)
heard it through the grapevine (it's all mine)
heard it through the grapevine (and workin' overtime)"
stuck in my head in the past. Similar musical material. Another potential medley rears its threatening head...

...Awkward pause.

So I have a confession to make. When I just looked up "Takin' Care of Business", I was surprised to find that, um, it's not a Rolling Stones song... and hello, Bachman-Turner Overdrive, nice to meet you. That's embarrassing. But you have to know, I am the daughter of a man who had to ask the spotty, cracking-voice cashier at a CD store (I picture the teenager who works in all the service industries on the Simpsons) to help him find a CD of "the band that did 'I Want to Hold Your Hand.'" Pop culture and my family are like oil and vinegar - we could be so good together, but we just don't mix. My rebellion against the hegemonic classical influence of my upbringing has been slow, and there's a lot of music to catch up on. I remind myself for the umpteenth time that that is why I'm doing this!

A few thoughts before I sleep to dream of color cartridges and dancing raisins: 1. The bass, chord changes, and the melody in "Grapevine" often hit on beat four or the and-of-four. That is why it's so hip. However, playing it on solo piano or accompanying a singer with just a piano, somewhere you gotta throw in some downbeats to make up for the pulse provided by other instruments, either by altering the bassline from what's in the recording, or in the rhythm of the chord comping. 2. This song is really sad! I never really paid attention to the lyrics before. Girls, be up front with your dude, because hearing through the grapevine that you're leaving for another guy... that's just not cool. 3. I like the super-dramatic string parts. 4. I played a little show today - a gig I do occasionally, but hadn't done for probably almost a year. I may not be retaining my daily songs right now (I am DETERMINED to fix that!), but my playing is much stronger than it was a year ago. I'm more comfortable outlining a groove that's not written on the page, and I'm much less stuck in the page, thanks to the crazy practice of trying to learn and memorize a song every day.

1 comment:

  1. 'hegemonic'

    And now I am but one word closer to omniscience. Thankyou. :o)