Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Track Attack- "Crimson & Clover" (Tommy James and the Shondells)

Velvet Underground's "Heroin" is one of the most accurate depictions of drug use to appear in any medium. Not once in the song's sprawling, static-laden 7 minutes does it endorse or deny drug use. There isn't a hint of sensationalism dripping off of Lou Reed's panicked lyrics. He has no idea where he's going, so he turns to drugs. While the journey sounds incredible at first, it soon descends into shrieking violas and wailing guitars. It consciously takes time to present the listener with yin and yang; high and low.

Tommy James and the Shondells' "Crimson & Clover", written in 1968 performs the same duty for lovemaking. Though the two colors have little, if anything to do with getting intimate, you can hear sex in all of its permutations when Tommy James exhales his first "oh." No matter how much anyone pretends, first times are nerve wracking. Religious declarations and marriage pledges are understandable reasons why waiting happens, but the nervousness felt is as valid a reason for waiting. No one wants to be nervous. "I think I could love her", James delicately trembles, proving even in when you're fully entrenched in such an outward act, it’s easy to drift inward. That mental focus is unavoidable. You can't bury it under piles of clothes, drops of sweat, tender music, or expressive moans. 

The group does manage to brush past those initial stages of shaky hands into something more assured however. James and drummer Peter Lucia Jr. penned the tune as a reaction to the success "Mony Mony" afforded them; and a desire to move forward is what fuels "Crimson & Clover". At a certain point, any thoughts are thrown to the wayside. In the song, we hear the lizard brain take control as guitars shift into hiccupping strums and tambourines jangle. When James mentions “I’ve been waiting to show her" an instrumental shift acts as proof. Soon enough, even the "showing" stops as a tremolo-weighted James is left extolling the virtues of "Crimson and Clover". Jitteriness and ecstasy will co-habit "over and over" for as long as lovemaking exists.

If you have suggestions for songs you want to see featured in future editions of Track Attack, feel free to leave them in the comment section.

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