Thursday, March 17, 2016

Once More With Feeling

   Knees wrote the words to this song in the early 70s but only played around with it on piano. He had been inspired by a Conway Twitty song that was controversial because of its explicit lyrics (As my trembling fingers touch forbidden places . . .) and wanted to write an explicit song of his own.


Last night the words we spoke after makin' love
Were so tender, like your warm red ruby lips.
You said "I love you" and you've shown it
In so many different ways now I hunger
For your trembling fingertips.

And then you said, "Once more with feeling,
There's no mountain we can't climb,"
And with bodies a-glow from the time just befo'
And nothing but love on our minds

Then we came to a place
Where only lovers go,
Inching our way up another plateau. Oh. Oh!


And then you said, "Once more with feeling,
There's no mountain we can't climb,"
And with bodies a-glow from the time just befo'
We go for it just one more time.

And then we came to a place
Where only lovers go,
Inching our way up another plateau. Oh. Oh!
 

    Recently I read one of the best books about songwriting, Jimmy Webb's TUNESMITH. In it he talks about melodies and how they usually fit a "scale". But he says that if your melody has more than three or four notes in a row in a CHROMATIC scale, you're probably doing something wrong. A chromatic scale is one that has every note in it. C to C# to D to D# to E to F to F# . . . But when I figured out the melody for the chorus of this song I realized that it had a phrase that consisted of SIX chromatic notes in a row. Should I change it?

    But let me first bring up "prosody". Prosody is a musical term for the rare occasion when the lyrics of a song and the music complement each other. Or the words of a poem and its rhythm. Edgar Allan Poe's "The Bells" is usually given as an example, where the words are about tinkling bells and the poem itself has many, many tinkling-sounding words and rhythms. Prosody is very difficult to do and if a songwriter pulls it off he should be quite proud.

    Well, the melody on the last line of the chorus uses the chords A7 and D7 and ends with G7 on the last note. Like this:

A7                                   D7                          G7
Inching our way up another plateau. Oh. Oh!

and the ending notes of the melody are:

                                        F#  G  G#    A    A#    B
Inching our way up an-oth-er plat-eau. Oh. Oh!

    So, according to Jimmy Webb, the melody shouldn't work, but when it comes to prosody, can you imagine better words for a melody that climbs up six steps, one half-tone at a time, than "Inching our way up another plateau. Oh. Oh!"

    Let's face it, when it comes to sex, inching is by far the best way to go.
 
   I'm not even going to mention the prosody that follows the words, "Then we came": a huge major chord, followed inevitably by the satisfied lassitude of its minor.
 
   Some of the sound effects were supplied by Gavin O'Keefe who snatched them from the internet.
 

  
  

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