Trivial pop song, by Iggy & the Stooges.

One of the songs that, among other things (see below), shows that a good producer makes all the difference. The guitar riff is a trivial three-chord progression; the drums, bass and vocals are primitive, almost clumsy. But it has tremendous power. How to capture this power on record?

Double track the parts? Crank up the echo? Plaster away the silence with sound, the way American producers like to do?

Listen closely. This producer doesn't take from the silence, but instead, enlarges it. The echo doesn't filll the sound up, it adds space, the atmosphere of an empty swimming pool or football stadium. A soft tambourine adds a touch of fuzziness to create more depth. in the far background, a piano drones on a single chord stressing the harmonics of the guitar chords, making it seem as if they are echoed off a mountain wall. The result is a magnificent empty space; the guitar plows through it like a chainsaw and Iggy's voice assumes a haunting intensity.

In this case, the producer was John Cale.

Other producers who make all the difference: Bob Ezrin, Brian Eno, George Martin.

What's odd is that I've played this very song on some of the most recherche keyboards on Earth: an Elizabethan spinet? the Woolsey Hall organ? as well as on toy keyboards in Wal-Mart and gotten much the same response...what IS that melody, anyway? You sound SO good...

It's not even a melody. Transcribed for keyboards, it's easier than Chopsticks, and I've even programmed it into my cell phone: CCC(rest), BBB(rest),AAAAAAAA. Fleshed out, you simply add fifths to each note, and the singer's voice (under the chords, not over), which repeats the basic pattern.

My musicologist friend concurs that it's not 'just' a trivial pop song: it's a Moroccan folk song, that The Stooges latched onto in emulation of The Rolling Stones and Philip Glass, who were trying to divine just what music IS, a common obsession in those days. It speaks volumes that this simplest of all musical phrases -- three notes in natural minor -- can evoke such emotion even when picked out on an E-Z 2 Play Karioke Lite-Guide synthesizer, and heard two aisles away. If there is anything good about the production, it's that John Cale simply allowed the 'raw power' of the group to speak for itself, rather than tarting it up.

To my poetic mind, it sounds like the Dance of Shiva, the first atomic bomb, air become so warm and thick as to be like flesh....

Wanting to be your dog (a literary walk)

HELENA: And even for that do I love you the more.
I am your spaniel; and, Demetrius,
The more you beat me, I will fawn on you:
Use me but as your spaniel, spurn me, strike me,
Neglect me, lose me; only give me leave,
Unworthy as I am, to follow you.
What worser place can I beg in your love,--
And yet a place of high respect with me,--
Than to be used as you use your dog?


We cried together! I have tasted all the happiness the world can offer! Listen, daroga...listen to this....While I was at her feet...I heard her say, 'Poor, unhappy Erik!' ... AND SHE TOOK MY HAND!...I had become no more, you know, than a poor dog ready to die for her....I mean it, daroga!...


"Yes, indeed," I said with mocking bitterness, "you are afraid of him, Wanda!" I threw myself down at her feet, and in my agitation embraced her knees. "I don't want anything of you, except to be your slave, to be always near you! I will be your dog-"

"Do you know, you bore me?" said Wanda, indifferently.


Porportuk's voice rose slightly and triumphantly. "As a dog, I own you."

"As a dog you own me," El-Soo continued calmly. "But, Porportuk, you forget the thing I told you. Had any other man bought me, I should have been that man's wife. I should have been a good wife to that man. Such was my will. But my will with you was that I should never be your wife. Wherefore, I am your dog."

Porportuk knew that he played with fire, and he resolved to play firmly. "Then I speak to you, not as El-Soo, but as a dog," he said; "and I tell you to come with me." He half reached to grip her arm, but with a gesture she held him back.

"Not so fast, Porportuk. You buy a dog. The dog runs away. It is your loss. I am your dog. What if I run away?"

"As the owner of the dog, I shall beat you--"

"When you catch me?"

"When I catch you."

"Then catch me."


Y hoy río si tú ríes, y canto si tú cantas;
Y si tú duermes, duermo
como un perro a tus plantas.


And O my love I love you again
I am your dog your cat
your Cleopatran snake

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