Friday, September 22, 2006


Do you hear what I hear?

Have you ever listened really closely to a piece of music? I mean REALLY closely. Pick your favorite piece and try it some time.

I've done it with Dave Matthews' song Dodo from his solo album Some Devil. Easily my favorite song of all time. Here's what I discovered. It is much more intricate than it might seem at first blush. The vocals are the most obvious. There aren't that many lyrics to Dodo. The most poignant line is

When was that killed
the very last dodo bird?
And was she aware
she was the very last one?

Dave's voice is gentle, like a pearl rolling on velvet. The song is a lullaby of sorts with that voice.

After listening for the lyrics about 50 billion times, I started honing in on what was going on with the music. The song begins with a ripple effect, reminiscent of water dropping into a shallow pool. A bass line plunks out notes that are picked up by the guitar and repeated through the rest of the song, like a mantra -dunt, dunt, dunt, de dunt da - dunt, dunt, dunt, de dunt da - like a hopping, pecking bird. Behind this are drums, the bass, and maracas or a tambourine (or both). As the music continues, horns come in with steady notes at first, eventually building and sliding, building and sliding. Toward the end of the song, a sax solos, the notes distinct and comforting, and rising - a dodo burbling, perhaps. The effect by the end is enough to cause an out-of-body experience. The song finishes with a bongo, a tambourine and a deep laugh.

The layers are astounding. When I listen closely, I hear something new every time. Exquisite.

What is your favorite song hiding from you? Have a listen and uncover its secrets.

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