Monday, 16 November 2009

Living on a prayer

I wish I could write a pop song a fraction as good as I Say A Little Prayer. One of those stories about daily life which rings true, where the expression is unimproveable . The condensed dream of a young African-American working girl, optimistic and joyful, where schmaltz is a stranger. The singer's rushing into a new world where a change has already come.

It's the first Pop song I can think of written in present simple, where whatever's said is always true ; in the past, the present and the future. It makes a magic tension; the words masquerade as being about the now, but they're about the forever; where, just by saying it, she sings into existence love itself.

" I'm combing my hair now/ and wondering what dress to wear now/I say a little prayer for you" The repeated line, the mantra, wishing up her lover, who maybe doesn't really exist at all.

She's a modern girl, earning a living, independent. " At work I just make time, and all through my coffee break time, I say a little prayer for you" . There she is, believing the world has turned for the better, skipping down the street like Mary Tyler Moore, rewarding us with the present of her eternal smile, yesterday, today and tomorrow's reverie of a woman mainlining on happiness.

The song's so powerful, so rich, that Dionne Warwick's office girl daydream becomes Aretha's gospel shout to Jesus, a Saint Theresa of Tennessee falling into religious ecstasy. No more in the North, back down Highway 61, where strange fruit had filled the trees, paycheques are as rare as diamonds and you'll only lose if you try to win. Here, you don't stand a prayer.

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