Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Vinyl Vacation: "Sooth Me" - The Sims Twins

Record Store Day is fast approaching and though the event has started to take more than a little flack of late, as a relative vinyl neophyte, I thought it might provide me with a handy excuse to talk about some of my own recent acquisitions and, wax rhapsodic about, well, wax.

I'm the kind of guy who approaches life like a kid in a candy store, which has its ups and downs. Although I love trying to sample everything life has to offer (because, let's face it, life kicks fucking ass), actually attempting to sample EVERYTHING life has to offer is also kind of insane. Add to that my decision to try to write about many of those things I just can't get enough of and I often find myself perilously falling into "The Busy Trap" wherein the pursuit of things I love becomes a stress creating end unto itself.

This is especially dangerous for a music writer as there's not only always infinity great new music coming out but there's also way more stuff that you should have already listened to popping up on your radar every day. Many's the night where a simple thought like "you know, I can't believe I only have three Superchunk albums" ends with me on the other side of an internet wormhole with six more hours of music on my iPod that I'll never have time to listen to.

It's times like this that I've been walking over to my stereo and throwing on "Soothe Me". Everything about acts as salve to the over-connected soul.

It started with the discovery process. In an age where "music discovery" is generally a two-second Google search, there's something so enjoyable at shifting through racks of dusty 45s in Laurie's Planet of Sound and stumbling on an old soul song you'd forgotten about. The inefficiency of spending ten minutes to find two songs that I didn't even know I was looking for feels so gratifyingly luxurious that it would be worth the buck-fifty I paid for the single alone. But the discovery didn't end there. I'd only ever been familiar with the Sam and Dave version and was unaware that it was originally recorded by a group I'd never heard of called the Sims Twins. On top of that, thanks to the label I learned that "Soothe Me" was a Same Cooke song, a fact so blindingly apparent once I'd read it that I kicked myself for never connecting the dots.

But ultimately, it's the music that gets me. The record starts with a satisfying pop and crackle that sounds like it coulda been a sound effect from a Quentin Tarantino movie. This is followed by the intro of a mellow bass, followed quickly by the kind of tinkling piano that so abounded on old soul records and whose cheap thin sound is, to me, a slice of aural comfort food. Indeed everything about "Soothe Me" is meant to, well, soothe. It's one of those love songs that cuts right through the noise of everyday life, stress and anxiety and manages to evoke the feeling of taking total comfort in another. I've read that Cooke apparently repurposed the song as religious gospel, which makes total sense to me. A few lyrical tweaks is all that's called for because it's not a song about carnal love but about the kind of connection between people that creates a tiny slice of divine between two human beings.

The B-Side is another Cooke song, this one called "I'll Never Come Running Back To You". It's a sprightly, latin-tinged torch song whose message is presumably meant to contrast with it's A-Side. It's never going to be a favorite of mine but dammit, it sounds like a Sam Cooke song and it's one I've never heard before, which is in and of itself a treat. More importantly it gives me a a two-and-a-half break to cleanse my palate before allowing myself to flip the thing over and listen to "Soothe Me" again. Listening to the same couple of songs on repeat can be so satisfying, especially after a long day and it feels so easy and natural, yet it's something I never would have even thought to do on my bottomless iPod.

It's not that I would ever consider ditching my iPod or trying to have a complete music collection on vinyl, the toothpaste is out of the tube and, frankly, I do enjoy being able to dj with a library of practically every song I own, anywhere I go. But when I'm feeling burnt out or worn down or overwhelmed there's something so comforting about this wonderfully finite and imperfect-sounding hunk of plastic and the scratchy succor it provides.

No comments:

Post a Comment