Thursday, February 9, 2023

Album sequencing, more Roches

When I was young and chronically bored in the car (in the 80s - we had car stereos and tapes but did not yet have handheld devices) I would go through my folks' collection of boomer tapes (James Taylor, Marty Balin solo, etc.) and my various embarrassing Sting tapes etc. and develop theories about which songs would go in which positions in the album. You start off with the strongest statement, go into something more conventional but still strong with the second one, end the first side with something memorable and optimistic, start the second side with a hey-we're-back, and then the penultimate song is the most enigmatic, the grace note to the strong and memorable closer that is the final song.

The position that I could never quite figure out is song 2, side 2. In many ways it seemed to be the place where the weakest material hung out, at least according to my very scientific study of approximately 20 over-the-hill boomer tapes.

I mentioned a few posts again that I've been getting into the Roches. Keep on Doing has a very interesting side 2/song 2 in "The Scorpion Lament," a slice of deep melancholy about almost getting caught doing something regrettable at night. They can't resist clever clunker couplets like:

faithful and unhenpecked
I somewhat recollect

but then it has just an awesome line in

God has let me release a sting
in my own eye

It's the only obvious reference to a scorpion in the song, and then it incongruously ends on a major chord as they sing "it's not alright with me," and then there's a super jarring transition into "Want Not Want Not." I like it.