Saturday, March 24, 2007


“Let’s Stay In and Make Love” / Nick Lowe

NICK LOWE WEEK

The sexiest song I’ve ever heard, period.

MY NICK LOWE THEORY#6: Considering how many pop songs Nick Lowe has written over the past 40 years, it’s amazing how his melodic invention never flags. On his most recent CD (The Convincer, 2001) , he's still finding fresh tunes to charm us with. I dig the way this tune starts out shimmering on a seventh chord and stairsteps down into a major key, taking its sweet time to get there. It's all about seductive chord changes and unpredictable syncopation, venturing coolly onto jazz turf. (Nick's visited there before, on Dig My Mood -- check out the elegant tracks "You Inspire Me" and "Freezing.")

Here's the set-up: This guy (I imagine it as Nick) has just mustered up the nerve to tell his wife/girlfriend (and yes, I imagine it as me), “I don’t really care / About tonight’s affair / We don’t have to go.” Not unusual; lots of men say that, but they mutter it angrily, because they hate putting on a tux and would rather watch the game. The last time someone pulled that on me I was LIVID. But that tentative melody – starting OFF on a note that begs to be resolved – makes her pause, listening. And when he gets to the chorus, and she finds out why he wants to cancel the engagement – “Let’s stay in and make love” – well, how could she mind that? The languid lilting tempo, the noodling guitar and electric piano, all make this song so intimate and tender, I know I’m melting already.

Look at how he sketches the scene, so cinematic, camera angle and everything: “Now you’re waiting in the hall / And I am on the stair / Looking at you from above / Say, darling, just for a change / Let’s stay in and make love.” Again with the melody – that hopeful lift on “Let’s”, the cozy repeated notes on “stay in,” a higher note to emphasize “and”, the way he slurs “make love” into three notes that curl around caressingly. I don’t imagine any writer plots a song in such detail, but when you’re in the zone, songwriting-wise, serendipity takes over.

Soon he gives us the movie’s script as well, with a voiceover: “You say softly, ‘Darling / You’re quiet tonight’ [extra beat of silence] / And you‘re right, ‘cause what I’m thinking of / Is ‘Take off your dress / Let’s stay in and make love.’” How lightly he sings that line, just a suggestion, like drifting his fingertips over her (my) skin. But in the bridge, with building volume (and cocktail lounge-y piano arpeggios from Geraint Watkins), he moves down the stairs and presses his case, each line shifting urgently into a higher key: “Let’s forget the chattering crowd / And get back to what’s really real” (cue those chattering back-up la-la la-la la’s ).

Okay, that’s probably a new dress she’s wearing. She knows she looks fabulous in it. She’s been looking forward to this do -- it’s hard to change gears that fast. So he’s got a little more persuading to do; he tempts her with a new scenario: “I’ll put on something that’ll groove us / You may dim the lights / Then come to me darling / Let’s stay in -- / Slip off those things and love me now.” He begins to drift off, losing the train of the melody from the first two verses. Distracted . . . intoxicated by desire . . . those buttons, the zipper, a rustle of satin...

Jeez, Nick, if she doesn’t take you up on it, I will.

http://www.amazon.com/Convincer-Nick-Lowe/dp/B00005MCW4/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1/002-8741997-4930451?ie=UTF8&s=music&qid=1174752909&sr=8-1
Happy birthday, Mr. Lowe!

6 comments:

Julie said...

A wonderful song on an essential CD. Happy Nick Lowe week, Holly!

StavinChain said...

You are 100% correct, Holly...an amazingly sexy song--and why it wasn't a hit single is completely beyond me. When I was in radio, I was known as "the guy with 45 r. p. m. ears" because I could pick the hits. When I first heard "The Convincer," I was long gone from radio, but I just KNEW "Let's Stay In" had to be a hit single. Now, 6 or so years later, whenever I hear that song, I imagine I'm back in radio, I'm playing it on the air, and the phone lines ALL start lighting up. Most of the people want to know where they can get a copy, but a few of the ladies have other things on their minds...

Jason Bugg said...

I just stumbled upon this. Wonderful. My girlfriend and I are in love with Lowe's music.

Holly A Hughes said...

Me, too, Jason -- me too. If you keep on reading here, you'll find a LOT of Lowe songs get stuck in my head!

hrrundivbakshi said...

Hey, Holly! Just wanted to give your props, since I purloined a link to your excellent interprtation of "Let's Stay In and Make Love" at the Rock Town Hall blog -- where today's themes are: "why don't more chicks post here?" and "Worst and best rock pick-up lines."

Check us out at http://www.rocktownhall.com

frankenslade said...

Holly, I'll second what Hrrundivbakshi says. You are a shining example of what us predominantly male rock nerds don't see often enough. How dare anyone ask if women are capable of talking rock stuff? :)