Monday, 27 February 2012

Heartbeats / Can't Find My Way Home: Songs That Get You From The Start

The other day I put the Blind Faith album on my Nano. I hadn't listened to it for many years, and it came over my Bose earphones straight out of my schooldays. Blind Faith was Eric Clapton, Ginger Baker, Steve Winwood and Rick Gretsch, and they were the first "supergroup" (the other was a band called Humble Pie, but they never really convinced me). One track, Can't Find My Way Home, took me off to another place entirely, which given that I was commuting to work at the time was a major feat. 

Here is the original album version...

 For some reason I thought of Jose Gonzales' version of Heartbeats...

Both songs are acoustic and have similar structures, with multiple repeats at the middle eight, and their lyrics barely make sense in an evocative way. Heartbeats is a strong song, as shown by the number of people who have covered it already and the beating it can take at their hands.

Heartbeats is about, well, what, exactly? "One night to push and scream / And then relief" could be about childbirth, and the song could be about the parents coming together only for the birth and then splitting "We had a promise made / Four hands and then away". I'll go with it being a hectic and heady one-night stand between two people who are attracted to each other, couldn't be in a relationship, are confused about why they are there and need to "speed up truth" to resolve what they are feeling. I'm guessing something like this is what most people think it's about if they don't think about what it's about.

The lyrics of Can't Find My Way Home sound like a man asking a woman to stop being a distant princess and let herself get into a relationship with him. But I wonder if it isn't actually about someone on drugs: the throne being the distance a drug user gets from the real world, and quitting drugs being "leave your body alone". Again, I'll go with the love lyrics. The song, the whole thing, is a musical evocation of what it is to be "near the end and I just ain't got the time / And I'm wasted and I can't find my way home". The guitar tune, chords and Winwood's scat singing then become an essential part of the song. 

Which as I write this, I realise is also true about Heartbeats. Seriously. Play any version on You Tube - except the Knife's - and those opening chords and tune get you at the start. It's what these two songs have in common and so few songs do. Enjoy both.

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