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Thursday, January 06, 2005
SONGS I LISTENED TO THIS YEAR THAT I LIKE A LOT (SILTTYTILAL) #1-2005: NICO, "I'LL KEEP IT WITH MINE"
Or, "reason number two million why everyone performs Bob Dylan's songs better than Bob Dylan does." I've liked this song for a while, but I didn't even know it was a Dylan song until I went to look up the lyrics this morning, because one line grabbed me, all of a sudden: "come on, give it to me," which comes directly before the "key line" that lands on the tonal resolution Dylan is so fond of. (I'm no Dylan fan, and just off the top of my head I can give you "A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall," "Tangled Up In Blue" and "Highway 51 Revisited" as examples of Dylan songs that use this trick. It's a folk trope, but Dylan sure does like it.) I just hadn't caught it before, because it seems so out of line with the tone of the rest of the song. It was the first thing I listened to this morning, because it is so warm and soothing and nice, "Pale Blue Eyes" if Reed had fully gone for it and given into the warmth lurking beneath Nico's cold facade. That rhythmic acoustic guitar! Those gorgeous strings that her voice throws out before it like a penumbra! The way it just holds on chords for like quadruple the number of bars it needs to!
But "give it to me"? The first thing that brings to mind is Jay-Z's "I Just Wanna Love You," not Nico. It's confrontational and brash in a way the song just doesn't suggest sonicly, much more reminiscent of hip-hop or modern R&B than folk-pop. In the grand Dylan tradition, the lyrics don't actually say anything, and my attempt to puzzle out a concrete character or narrative failed, because I just don't think it there--it's maddeningly unspecific, and the creative writing tutor in me wants to put a bunch of big red circles on it. But it does have a feel, and that feel shifts very suddenly with the line in question, from something supportive to something much more desperate or agressive, depending on how you want to take it. It's the "come on" in particular: it's insistant, nagging, pulling at your sleeve, demanding something. The sentiment "I'll keep it with mine" is very sweet, but the way the offer is being made suggests that the song's object of address does not want to give it up, and that turns the song into something much more akin to obsession than love.