Friday, July 29, 2016

I'm a Sinner, I'm a Saint

It's been a busy time these days for me. I haven't felt the need to really write here. I still have to finish writing my D song reviews. I've started but haven't finished.

Right now, though, I'm adding a new song to the list, and thankfully, if I go by her first name, it'll be in the 'M' reviews, so this isn't added after the fact.

I heard this song when I was around six or seven, and I always kind of liked it. I never knew what it was called, only that it sounded good. For the first time since then, today, I heard it on the radio again.

Thank god my radio lists the artist/song in the car, and the radio station lists their recent airings online as well.

I can listen to this now objectively, from a lyrical standpoint and a (more importantly) musical standpoint. It didn't take me long to discern that the song is in A major. I'm kind of pleased to hear something in a major key for once, as minor keys are over-used in pop music. Of course, as a kid and now, I like the song for its chorus. As a kid I mondegreened the line "I'm a sinner, I'm a saint" as "I'm a sinner, I'm a sink."

To describe it, I want to first make a couple of comparisons. Take 'Feels Like Heaven' by The Cure, and take this song's first chorus line. The two progressions match identically: A major, E major, B minor, D major. The difference of course is one is light, easy New Wave, and the other is hard-edged rock. Of course, the second time the chorus plays - "I'm your hell, I'm your dream..." - the B minor is replaced with an F sharp minor.

The second comparison I must mention is between this woman's voice and temperament and Alanis Morrissette's. Both sound very similar. Alanis has 'You Oughtta Know;' Meredith has 'Bitch.' Both were released within two years of each other, both are rock-oriented, and both have strong female vocals that reflect strength and independence. Morrissette's lyrics may be more vengeful compared to Brooks' bright acknowledging, but both sound like women you do not want to mess with or consider as traditional in any way.

The music comes across as straightforward and completely unapologetic, which sets the stage perfectly for Brooks' lyrics. The gem for me? The B minor chord. In my head, in the way I see it, the chord - played right as she sings that very 'I'm a sinner, I'm a saint' line - wholeheartedly exemplifies invitation to challenge, strength, confrontation. It comes across as "You have a problem with this/me? Deal with it." It is rare for this chord to come across, to me, as a personality that stands its ground with a firm expression on its face. The only other example of this is 'Walk Like an Egyptian' by The Bangles, and I'm uncertain whether that's B major or B minor. All I know is it exemplifies a girl who doesn't take bullshit partly thanks to the lyrics, and I find that highly attractive. It's used in moderation, however - an F sharp minor replaces it every second time. That comes across as aligning and submissive, rather than B minor.

The lyrics, in short, refer to acknowledging in a relationship that she is naturally strong, refusing to apologize for anything or defer to the traditional subservient feminine image, and yet, happily, her boyfriend wouldn't have it any other way. That's where the positives come from, compared to Morrissette's anger over a failed relationship. I like that. It's how the B minor works so well. The song exudes female strength and independence, which makes it loud and necessary. I just love that strong B minor...

Music: B+
Lyrics: A-

I love finding these childhood gems. The best part is analyzing what I knew I liked so long ago and figuring out why. Plus I know she's not a sink.

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