Friday, September 07, 2007

"Tears Been A-Falling" / Joe King Carrasco

One of the best organ riffs ever, a perky funhouse ripple of sound that always makes me smile. Maybe this track lacks that Tex-Mex quality that allowed Joe King Carrasco to trademark his music as Nuevo Wavo , but it's still cheeky and danceable and irrepressibly fun.

I never heard of Joe King Carrasco back in the late 70s-early 80s, when he played the New York clubs and joined Stiff Records' traveling show. That's a pity -- I would have loved to cram into a dank little club and groove to songs like this and "Perfect Spot" and "Buena." Looking back on my musical tastes at the time, I was always more easily seduced by the fun groups -- the B-52s, Jonathan Richman, Devo, Blondie, even the early Talking Heads (before David Byrne's terminal artsy pretension set in). Joe King Carrasco & the Crowns would have fit in just fine.

The lyrics are pretty elementary -- "Tears been a-falling / Since you've gone away / Tears been a-falling / Please come back to me," and so on. He slops around his house all day and cries himself to sleep; he just can't believe she's really gone, his tears fall like rain, the usual pop sentiments. You could write such words yourself, in five minutes; they don't even rhyme. But the extra syllable he has to throw in -- "Tears been A-fallin'" -- is proof positive that this number is really all about that catchy shuffling rhythm, punctuated by Kris Cummings' winsome organ fills. In fact this song, from Carrasco's 1983 album Party Weekend, was a reworking of his own earlier "Tears Been Falling," a much more pedestrian rocker. Without that syncopation, this song is nothing; with it, it's magic.

Frankly, this guy doesn't sound too terribly broken-hearted; it's more like a sort of numb slacker woe. My girlfriend's gone, what a bummer. Pass me that Corona there, will ya? Joe King's voice can't help but sound playful and adolescent, like a guy you might have had a crush on in high school. Nothing angst-y there, nothing menacing, nothing earth-shaking -- but someone you'd sure have fun hanging out with. I can't imagine why that girl ever left him . . . but take my word for it, he won't stay lonely for long.

Tears Been A-Falling sample


Anonymous said...

Well....what can I say?
All my love to you , Holly!
Thank you soo much for writing about this song.
It only wish Joe would read this.


ilesofsmiles said...

Too bad I never got to see this band LIVE!
We all would'a had some fun.. right Mr. L!

Smiley ;D