The biggest problem I have with writing this blog isn’t thinking of something to say. It’s usually just the opposite: I must have seven or eight ideas that I could turn into posts right now, if only I didn’t also have to work, make dinner, clear things away, and get a little bit of sleep.
Even the smallest idea usually needs about an hour, start to finish, by the time the tags are added, the links are identified, and an interesting picture is downloaded onto my computer and then uploaded into the post. So that’s why there’s an average of just over one new post here on any given day. There would be nine or ten new posts every day, if the rest of life wasn’t quite so persistent.
Besides finding the time to put some thoughts down, I also have a real problem with closure. Like an email chain where nobody wants to let the last email go unresponded to, for fear of looking rude, I sometimes have trouble wrapping things up. Starting a post here is never a problem, but ending one usually is. The record industry has discovered a way around that, and they use it more frequently than I had realized, before today. To make my point, I’ll need to go back to a few hours ago.
I was done for the day at work, and on my way home on a sunny and warm-but-not-hot afternoon in suburban Chicago. I had the windows down, the radio playing rather loud and yes, Peter Frampton, for a brief moment I did feel like you do.
The wah-wah-wah-you’re-gonna-die part of Frampton’s opus had given way to the final guitar part, where the longer-than-usual solo was building to its crowd-pleasing finish. Like the Springsteen concert I went to the other night, you can’t get an audience worked up into a frenzy and then end a song with anything other than a flourish. That’s exactly why live shows can be so exciting.
But most of the songs on the radio haven’t got that. The next song I heard, after Frampton’s epic, was Bob Seger’s “Hollywood Nights.” I like the song a lot, and to suggest I’ve heard it a hundred times in my life doesn’t sound unreasonable. But at the end of the song, it goes into a fade. For all I know, they played the song in the studio for three hours on the day they recorded it, and just picked out the spot where the fade out begins.
I immediately understood the possibilities that this realization carried. Songs I’ve heard quite enough of over the years suddenly became unknown, at least in some sense. Every song either ends in a fadeout (such as Lynrd Skynrd’s “Freebird“), or it doesn’t (such as U2’s “Sunday Bloody Sunday“).
I found myself passing the drive home by listening to songs all the way through (which rarely happens anymore), trying to find out which ones end with one final note (like Guns n Roses’ “Sweet Child o’ Mine“) and which ones just fade out (like Don Henley’s “Boys of Summer“).
So now, after decades of hearing some songs over and over again, I have a new reason for listening to them. Funny how things can go that way, sometimes. And once again, I struggle to write a good ending (since I don’t have the benefit of a slow fade out). Maybe I’ll try it just this one time………