Wednesday, February 04, 2009

My True Love” / Bobby Fuller


Buddy Holly yesterday, today Bobby Fuller--another rock-and-rolling Texan who died tragically young (age 23, found mysteriously dead in his car in 1964). Thanks to my friend Rob Keith of the Baskervilles for first turning me on to the Bobby Fuller Four, who clung to their Holly-inspired classic sound, even while America was being invaded by the Beatles and their compatriots. Like Holly, Fuller didn’t deal in irony or oblique storytelling—which makes his love songs (and most of his songs are about love) perfect for this month’s project.

Hallmarks of Fuller’s style include clangy surf guitars, splashes of Mexicali percussion, and echo chambers whenever he could get ‘em. Whereas yesterday’s song, “Words of Love,” goes for a lover’s intimacy, “My True Love” is a Statement Song: He isn’t talking to his girl, trying to seduce her, but formally declaring to the world how wonderful she is. How refreshing is that?

The song announces itself with a trumpet-like flourish of guitar, followed by a rat-tat-tat shimmer of triangle – a call to attention. Then it shifts into a legato melodic line as she spiels off her virtues. “Dearer she than you would dream to find / Is my own true love / Sweeter she than the sweetest wine / Is my true love” – the word order’s stilted and self-conscious, but why not? He’s not describing kisses or her sexy way of walking, he’s praising her character: “Gentle and shy with a sunny smile / Like the sky above.” Fuller’s earnest vocals make you believe it, too, as he finishes off that verse with “Never will I roam another mile [I love that vocal twiddle on “mile”]/ For my true love.” Irony would have killed this song.

He does develop his ideas a bit in the middle eight, shifting the focus from her to his own feelings. He sounds grateful and relieved -- “No more other loves to taunt me / No more winding trails to haunt me / I have found my place in the sun / With my true one.” (That line about finding his place in the sun sounds to me like it’s straight out of some John Ford Western.) What a nice change from the usual rockabilly image of the Ramblin’ Man. It’s hard to believe this is the same guy who wrote (his one big hit) “I Fought the Law.”

Bobby Fuller could also do the Complaint Song (“Love’s Made a Fool of You”), the Warning Song (“Baby My Heart”), and even the Under Your Spell Song (“The Magic Touch,” which has some surprisingly psychedelic touches for 1964). It’s all pretty darn good stuff. But right now, while the Valentine’s spirit is on me – I’ll take “My True Love.”

My True Love sample

1 comment:

wwolfe said...

You know, I can't think of anything to add to what you've written here, because you really nailed what's great about this track. But I just wanted to say I was happy to see Booby get some attention. "Never to Be Forgotten" is one of my all-time faves, and I've never heard a less-than-exciting version of "Let Her dance. (Including the rockin' version that finishes Marshall Crenshaw's "Good Evening" album.) So thanks for the garlands thrown Bobby's way.