Wednesday, February 18, 2009

“Big Love” / Little Village


Talk about a dude on the prowl – this whole song is just saturated with horniness. The singer of this song hasn’t got any particular woman in mind, although -- as he mentions in verse two -- he needs a fifty-foot woman to wrap his love around; that’s how big his “love” is. I’m laughing, but oh, I’m feeling the love, too.

This was the Super Group that never really made it—John Hiatt and Ry Cooder on guitar, Nick Lowe playing bass, and Jim Keltner on the drums, with everyone trading off on vocals and sharing songwriting duties. (You who know my proclivities can see already where this is going.) They should have been EPIC, but somehow it never quite gelled and they all went back to their solo careers. Their one record, though, is a classic early-90s roots-rock gem, shot through with witty double-entendres. (Have there ever been more car/sex metaphors crammed into one song than in “She Runs Hot”?) So when I hear “Big Love,” I can’t help but picture just how big the singer’s, erm, love really is. “I’m a full-grown man / Looking for a real love,” John Hiatt declares, in his most urgent soulful groan, in the refrain. Look out, ladies.

Take that deliciously retarded tempo, the whomping drums and thrusting bass line, and Cooder’s plangent Dobro whining like power lines vibrating in the wind—well, it’s a pretty sexy track indeed. It’s all about superlatives – “I need love as big as an ocean / I need love that can't be crossed / A love in perpetual motion / I need a love that won't get lost” – he’s just bursting with it, isn’t he?

The line that really gets me is this: “I need a love gonna lift me up to that drinking fountain / Just like my Daddy did in my younger days.” There’s something surprisingly tender there, which somehow I ascribe to John Hiatt. (Me and Hiatt and Hiatt’s daddy – oh, we go way back.) Suddenly this guy is interesting.

“Now is this love / Gonna get up off the ground / Is this love gonna get up off the ground,” Hiatt wails and moans. Really, ladies, we ought to help this poor schmuck with his burden of desire. After all, he’s, well, big, and girls, isn’t that what we want?

And dig how he humanizes himself in the third verse: “I never did just a little drinking / I could drink the Milky Way.” This line plunges deep for me -- knowing as I do that both Hiatt and Lowe are reformed alcoholics who bonded in the making of Hiatt’s Bring the Family (dig the cover image of John drinking coffee, the AA beverage of choice). “Think small and your heart starts shrinking,” Hiatt bravely declaims, and with one fell swoop, I am seduced. Who cares how “big” this guy is; his heart is big, and for a woman, that’s what really matters.

Big Love sample


Crafty said...

Good choice, I really like that album.

I guess you passed on "Solar Sex Panel"..... ;)

Holly A Hughes said...

Just saving it for a rainy day. :D

I have to admit, every time I listen to this album, I ponder who wrote which line. I have to credit most of the sex puns to Nick Lowe, but "Solar Sex Panel" seems pure Ry Cooder to me.

wwolfe said...

I had the great good fortune to see Little Village play at the Pantages Theater in Hollywood. It was a remarkable show. They played more than three hours, with lots of stuff from Nick's and John's solo albums, as well as almost every song from the Little Village album. After their fourth (!) encore, "Across the Borderline," they told the crowd, "We don't know any more songs!" Ironically, the one song from their own album they didn't play was my favorite, and my most favorite of all Hiatt songs, the wonderfully titled "Don't Think About Her When You're Trying to Drive." To make up for it, though, they did a very, very long version of your selection for today.

I'd been waiting for a Nick Lowe-related entry to mention that I finally got to see his entire "Austin City Limits" appearance. Very enjoyable, with a brand new song called "I Read a Lot" that I hope ends up on an album soon. If you haven't seen it, it's worth a visit to YouTube.

Holly A Hughes said...

Lucky you, to have seen Little Village! I've seen them all separately, but missed the combination act, to my eternal regret. Thanks for your memories. ("Don't know any more songs," yeah, right.)

I did see the ACL with Nick, and pored over the full interview on line. It was magnificent, wasn't it? Though not enough Nick -- there's never enough Nick for me.

Don't worry about the shortage of Nick Lowe posts; next month he turns 60 and I'm thinking a monthlong celebration may be in order...

Dancing Otter said...

I'm a total Hiatt freak. I wish I'd caught Little Village back in the day.

I think the reason the super group didn't make it is because of egos, kinda like this songs title (Big Love).