I’ve heard that people think it’s dangerous to analyze such connections, and that there’s a magic in not knowing how certain connections work. I don’t buy it. First and most important: emotion will always work faster than analysis. Second: there will always be new things to be moved by. Third: let yourself be moved by the understanding, too.
For me, this is perfectly embodied in a song by Kiki and Herb. Kiki and Herb are a faux torch-song duo who perform as if they are on a reunion tour of sorts. Their supposed heyday was decades before and now Kiki, damaged, drunken, spiteful and absolutely, desperately human sits on the piano basically dying, telling old stories and singing other people’s songs.
They perform a version of the 80’s hit “Total Eclipse of the Heart” that is hilarious, powerful and desperate, the final minute or so of the song is frighteningly moving. A crescendo has been building for minutes, Kiki is now riffing on the original’s “turn around bright eyes” motif. Kiki is quoting The Byrds, Joni Mitchell and, getting louder and louder she begins yowling Yeats poetry (with Herb shouting like a lost sailor his background parts into the storm of Kiki’s desperation) “The falcon cannont hear the falconer... Surely the second coming is at hand...”, riffing more, “Turn around.... turn around... don’t turn your back on me... don’t turn your back on Kiki!!! Kiki loves you! Kiki needs you! Kiki would die for you!!!”
All this crazy manic energy has coalesced, and you realize that the decades old “turn around” of the pop hit has been transmutated, now its a plea: “Turn around, come back. TURN AROUND, STAND STILL AND BE LOVED BY ME GODDAMMIT.”
Kiki -and if anyone is a falcon who can’t hear the falconer, it’s her- is crying for you to believe in her transformation, her second coming. She is turning and turning, and transforming and transforming, watching you walk away, but she won’t have it .TURN AROUND! TURN AROUND! The song ends with her demanding to have her love accepted. DON’T TURN YOUR BACK ON ME! KIKI WOULD DIE FOR YOU!
It’s perfect. The emotional tone is complex, gigantic and terribly human. Every word and note in this finale has been precisely thought through, and it’s still delivered with the real investment to carry the listener to an emotionally powerful place.
It took me dozens of listens to this song at full volume to realize all this. It gets more powerful each time I hear it, and the more I decode, the more it moves me to shivers... And of course, then I realize that these moments too, are about being heard, about brazenly demanding what you feel you’ve worked for, like most of the moments that are moving me right now.