Saturday, September 23, 2006

Seven Songs 2: The Crescendo

(This is the second in a series of seven posts, written in response to a meme that asked me what seven songs I held in highest esteem. The first of these posts is noted here.)


Rock and Roll Dreams Come Through (Meatloaf)
- written by Jim Steinman


One thing that is common with most means of artistic media is that they're difficult to define. To begin with, we all have a pretty vague idea as to what a "story" is, or what a "drawing" is, or what a "song" is. The issue usually comes around with distinction: Could I, for example, write an entry full of verse-based metaphors and have it considered "fiction"? Could I haphazardly spread the remains of my lunch on a piece of plywood and call it "art"? Could I string a bunch of random notes together into some alien coherence and call it "music"?

Unfortunately, the nature of creative pursuit is such that we constantly try to present something new. We constantly push the boundaries of our chosen media, and make life hard for erstwhile analysts as a result. Inevitably the established notions fail, and we find ourselves falling back on gut instinct: This is a story because I say so. This is art because it feels that way. This is music because it can be absolutely nothing else.

It is on this basis that I argue on the importance of impact. A piece must be strong enough to hit you right where you stand. It must be powerful enough to leave you stock-still, realizing that what you just experienced could not have been anything else than what it claimed to be in the first place. A song should follow much the same logic: It must give you an experience.

"Rock and Roll Dreams Come Through" was a difficult choice, to be honest. You probably wouldn't be able to guess at the quality of the song just by reading the title; I mean, it actually sounds rather silly when you say it out loud. Its message is vague and a little questionable. Its artist (Meatloaf, in this case) is known for putting a lot of melodrama into his performances, and the video above can be seen as a prime example of showbiz campiness.

But the moment you start listening to it, it works. It doesn't just come together at the last second, mind you -- it works works. The tempo is carefully measured, the choral background is perfect, and the impact is unquestionable. Simply put, it hits you like a freight train. It leaves you more than a little shocked at its temerity, and you can do nothing more than admit that, yes, this is music. This is good stuff, although you'll definitely be muttering denials to yourself afterwards.

For the record, this song was what introduced me to the artist in question. In fact, it single-handedly initiated my search for its album, one that lasted about ten years before I finally found a copy in a second-hand music store half a world away. I still bear the marks of its impact even as I speak, and that's why it happens to be the second song on my list.


4 comments:

jeff-reiji said...

off-topic: hey, interested to join the Philippine Blog Conference?

Speaking of, this message feels like a spam. I feel dirty. (",)

Sean said...

Reiji: Hmmm... this is the first time I've heard of this one. What'll it be about?

Jac said...

mmm angelina jolie :heart:

Sean said...

Jac: That is Angelina Jolie, isn't it? Somehow I didn't notice that at first... what's she doing in a Meatloaf video?