Friday, October 16, 2009

Can't Get It Out Of My Head

Buddy and Julie Miller (with Patti Griffin)--"Chalk" (mp3)

You know how they can get stuck in your head, and they're usually some drivel, some incessant beat or goofy repetition of a word like "umbrella" or "alcohol." You know how they can appear to be playing everywhere all the time. Or maybe they aren't even a real song; maybe they are a commercial jingle or a part of song that you used to like that has been sold to a multinational corporation to promote a product not even remotely connected to the song.

But sometimes even an honest song can get stuck in your head.

It doesn't happen often.

There's too much static out there, too much noise to allow a place for an acoustic guitar and a voice, eventually joined by a piano and another voice, maybe an electric guitar overdub for the solo.

"Chalk" is written by Julie Miller and performed by her husband, Buddy Miller. Julie Miller is a woman who has written more good songs than I can even count, and still, I consider this among her very best.

The odd thing is that she doesn't sing on it. Patti Griffin provides the harmony voice. What must it be like, I wonder, to write a song this good and to have the critical sense to realize that you are not the right person to sing it?

Here's my theory: though Buddy has a good voice, he has to strain a bit on the melody of this song, and that reaching for notes (that he does reach) gives the song an additional emotional weight. Since the lyrics carry their share of pain and resignation, the way he works so hard to keep control of the melody mirrors the lyrics. Julie's version, given her kind of odd, little girl voice, probably wouldn't work as well.

So if you are one of those readers who don't listen to the music on this blog, make an exception here. "Chalk" is enough country for those who like country, enough folk for the folkies, in addtion to having interesting guitar parts and harmonies for the musicians.

Chalk by Julie Miller

I always pretended for your sake
So you wouldn't know how you made my heart break
I tried so hard to save you from yourself
But I never could cry out loud for help

All I did was help you tell a lie
You never even knew it when I said goodbye
I ran so far and I don't know why

You never even knew who I was
You saw about as far as a blind man does
I carried you with me everywhere I went
I carried everything till my back was bent

All I did was help you tell a lie
You never even knew it when I said goodbye
It keeps on raining and I don't know why

All our words are written down in chalk
Out in the rain on the sidewalk
If all our heartaches were in a stack
They'd go all the way up to heaven and back

We don't know all the trouble we're in
We don't know how to get home again
Jesus come and save us from our sin

It won't be too long before people will be putting out their lists of best CDs and best songs of 2009. This is will be on mine.

"Chalk" is on Buddy and Julie Miller's latest CD, Written In Chalk, available at Itunes.


cinderkeys said...

Shoot, I can't get the MP3 to load.

Anonymous said...

I can't either.

Bob said...

Thanks to Billy, you should be able to hear it now. Thanks, Beery.

jed said...

check the version on my damn channel - don was. i can't get it to copy. nice post!!!!!

jed said...

by the way - buddy miller is the bomb. check out "spyboy" by emmylou harris.

cinderkeys said...

Wow. This is not a genre I'm normally into, but Buddy and Judy Miller are really good. I'm thinking of buying the whole CD instead of just getting the one song from iTunes.