"I Wanna Make It Alright" / Paul Weller
I've been feeling in desperate need of a pick-me-up song -- so thanks, Paul Weller, for tap-dancing into town with this one, from his marvelous mature 2005 album As Is Now. (Man, I sure do dig rock stars who know how to age gracefully.) What a simple confection this is, a perfect example of less being more. It's just one musical phrase -- two notes, repeated in different keys, varied only occasionally by a seventh jump upward at the end -- but oh, how that dogged repetition gets his point across.
What's the plot here? I'm guessing it's one massive apology song, a clear-the-boards-and-start-fresh thing -- that soft husky vocal of the beginning sounds pretty humble to me. Patiently he repeats, "I want to make it alright / Alright between us two / I want to put things right on this ground / Before our time is through." Whatever he's done, he knows it came damn close to killing the whole affair. But, he protests, his intentions are thoroughly honorable --"I want to be the kind / You want to come home to" (what woman doesn't want to hear that?) -- though, oh yes by the way, there's a healthy dose of lust as well: "I want to be the one who gets to / Make it with you" (just a bit of gasp and shiver there.) Because we need both.
On the whole, Weller insists, he's a stand-up guy: "Try to love you better than / I ever done before / I wanna stand up and say / I'll always love you this way." How sweet is that? It's clear he's hurt her somehow, but he's sorry sorry sorry: "I don't want you feeling blue / At the end of the day / Try to put some goodness back / Before this good thing goes." Jeez, the fact that he knows it's a good thing puts him well ahead of most guys I know.
I love the comforting spirit of this song; it gives me the same warm vibe as Stevie Wonder's "Don't You Worry 'Bout A Thing." Those sibilant brushstrokes on the drums, the lilting little piano glissandos, keep the whole thing bright and good-hearted; the laid-back syncopation is sexy and yet reassuring, especially with that pleading quiver in his slightly gritty voice. (In the bridge, he sounds almost like Joe Cocker's long-lost brother.) It's amazing how physical this song is; I can almost feel his strong arms circling me, can almost smell the starch in his shirt. How does he pull this off?
I'm still not sure why this song lifts my spirits so -- after all, how does an apology from Paul Weller sort my life out? Who knows? All I know is that this track is one big easy chair I can snuggle up in for the afternoon. Some days that's the most we can hope for.
I Wanna Make It Alright sample