Dec 142011

The wisdom of The Hall continues to amaze me. For as many knowledgeable individuals who dazzle with their rock knowledge, it is the collective wisdom of our participants that I find most dazzling.

It is in this spirit that I want to allow for further amazement—not only for the people but by the people. Rather than turn this into my own original post, maybe even do a few minutes of research on the Web, I thought better of it. Instead, I’d like to pose a question on behalf of a fellow Townsperson to the collective wisdom of The Orockle.

My 10-year-old son has an obsessive way with enjoying music. He gets into a certain song and then plays it endlessly, often for weeks at a time. For instance, in the past 3 months he’s analyzed every nook and cranny of ELO‘s “Sweet Talking Woman,” Creedence Clearwater Revival‘s “Have You Ever Seen the Rain,” Van Morrison‘s “St. Dominic’s Preview,” and lately The Who‘s “Getting in Tune.” He sings along to the songs, if possible finding YouTube clips that show the lyrics in real time. He imitates each singer, digging in like John Fogarty at just the right points and even working in the backing vocals on the ELO number. He decided that he prefers the live version of “St. Dominic’s Preview” to the studio version. It’s really cool, if occasionally annoying when I hear one of these songs playing in the background for the 15th time. Mostly, though, it’s really cool—so cool that I can overlook the occasional slight annoyance. Beside, it’s not like the apple fell far from the tree.

There’s one thing that’s been bugging him, however, on repeated spins of “Getting in Tune”: the long fadeout. “The last minute is like a doll with a string,” he said the other night, “saying the same thing over and over. Why do they have to waste the last minute singing that one line?” I tried to explain the purpose of the fadeout, but I failed in convincing him of the fadeout’s intended majesty, its unlocking of the Power & Glory. Oh Orockle, how can I explain to my 10-year-old son the purpose of the long fadeout on The Who’s “Getting in Tune”?

PS – A day after drafting this I flipped over to an old Rolling Stones concert movie on TV while my son was on the computer. “Tumbling Dice” started up. “What’s this song called again, Daddy?” he called over to me. “I’m going to look it up.”


  11 Responses to “Consult the Orockle: How Can I Explain to My 10-Year-Old Son the Purpose of the Long Fadeout on The Who’s “Getting in Tune”?”

  1. mockcarr

    Hey, didn’t they come right out and say they can’t pretend there’s any meaning hidden here? The Who are giving you a taste what the band does live by working out that last minute. It’s a release of tension after 3 minutes of restraint. There’s the inherent Townshendy confusion though, because they’re getting in tune with the straight and narrow, but the accompanying is every man for himself, only loosely tethered to the song’s former structure. Still, the call and response between Roger and Pete/John is somewhat choral, like a Baptist choir and minister “getting right with Jesus”, Roger, Pete and John are getting right with the Rock, after the introspection of the verses.

  2. tonyola

    I’m not sure there needs to be a purpose, other than it’s something that Townshend and the band wanted to do. If the long fade works, bitchin’. For other examples of this long rock tradition, you can also play to your son the Kinks’ “Australia”, Bowie’s “Station to Station”, and something you featured on a recent Saturday Night Shut-In – Yes’ “Starship Trooper”.

  3. alexmagic

    Mod, you need to jump in and join on some backing vocals on Sweet Talkin’ Woman next time he plays it. Those heavy bass SLOW DOWNs are there for the taking.

  4. hrrundivbakshi

    I cannot WAIT for your report on how the meaning of “Tumbling Dice” changes for you as you become intimately acquainted with the actual words for that song.

  5. hrrundivbakshi

    Here’s what the words are for me, and I love them:

    Well, my-my-my, I been so lot witchoo, every day, every feel, every night. Bayyyy-beh! I’m no layyyy-deh! Tote met yo koo every night!

    Slow down, bitches, life will be no mitches, don’t you know the deuce is stick a while? bayyy-beh! Can’t you see ! You got to ro-ho-hole it, call me the tumbah-lin’ daaaah-ee-ice!

  6. misterioso

    Mod, first of all, any kid who likes “St. Dominic’s Preview” is ok with me (though I prefer the studio version to the–very good–live version). In his honor, I am listening to it right now–and may I add that though I’ve always loved the song it has taken me years to get most of the lyrics or even to start understanding what the song is about?

    So if the kid is hip to the virtues of Van and “St. Dominic’s Preview”–the last minute of which consists of Van riffing while the backup singers repeat “St. Dominic’s Preview”–I can see no obstacle to his grasping the fadeout of “Getting in Tune.” I think mockcarr pretty much pins it down.

    Finally, if he likes “St. Dominic’s Preview,” let him hear the version of “Wonderful Remark” that is on the Van odds ‘n’ sods collection The Philosopher’s Stone. It is an outtake from the St. Dominic’s Preview sessions and not to be confused with the very much inferior and badly produced later version that appears on the King of Comedy soundtrack. Very much a companion to “St. Dominic’s Preview” in sound. Has a long fadeout, too.

  7. I’ll have to check out that companion piece myself. For me, “St. Dominic’s Preview” is up there with “It’s All Over Now Baby Blue” for songs with lyrics that forever hold my attention and speak to me without my ever completely “cracking” their meaning.

    Speaking of long fadeouts, my son still has his reservations about “Listen to the Lions,” another song from that time I love but that my usually Van-loving wife always asks me, about 8 minutes into it, if it’s ever going to end.

  8. misterioso

    This is the one :

    I agree with both you and your wife about “Listen to the Lions.”

  9. Hey, I saw a used copy of the double-CD Morrison collection today and snagged it! I’ll let you know what we think of that tune when we get a chance to check it out.

  10. misterioso

    Hope you like it. A mixed bag to some extent, but reflective in some ways of his career: the early stuff is great and gradually it becomes less so with some weird production choices. (Thus, disc 1 is really good, disc 2 is hit and miss.) But as with Dylan’s Bootleg Series, some tracks are so good, especially when compared to songs that made the cut on records like Hard Nose the Highway or Period of Transition, that it is hard to know what he was thinking. Note, too, that the information about when stuff was recorded as given in the booklet appears to be accurate about 50% of the time, maybe.

  11. jeangray

    Right on. I really love that first disc — the second one not so much.

    I must admit that after our discussion pertaining to Jazz a while back, Ima bit suprised that you are a fan of Morrison.

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