Saturday, September 12, 2015

Ten from Fountains of Wayne: "All Kinds of Time"


"All Kinds of Time" /
Fountains of Wayne

What?  The only Fountains of Wayne song you know is their one pop hit, "Stacy's Mom"?  Now that's a shame.  Permit me to widen your horizons, with not one but ten FOW tracks that prove their genius...   
From Welcome Interstate Managers (2003).
What?  Football season already?
Despite having grown up in a Big Ten household, with a father who was a college quarterback, I'm not much of a gridiron fan.  The NFL mostly bores me, and today's ramped-up college football is not much better.  But as autumn rolls around, I still have a soft spot for high school homecoming games (shout out to the Ripple Rockets!) And whenever I hear this song, I picture our high school quarterback, the sublime Dale Walker, going back for a pass.
"The clock's running out / The team's losing ground / To the opposing defense."  Okay, scene set.  Now zoom in on our hero: "The young quarterback / Waits for the snap / When suddenly it all starts to make sense." 
And then, the slow-mo moment supreme. Everything hectic fades away, and he's In The Zone. "He's got all kinds of time /  He's got all kinds of time / All kinds of time."  
How beautifully the melody expresses this. The verses' long yearning scale-climbing lines (just a hint of falsetto reach at the top) resolve in the soothing chromatics of the chorus. The loping, easy tempo has just enough syncopation to remain light and poised.  No marching band here, just a copasetic jazz combo.  
Yes, it's about football -- but it's also about grace.   "He seems so at ease / A strange inner peace / Is all that he's feeling somehow." As he scans the field, he has leisure to think about all his loved ones, the audience watching at home.  A ray of golden light finally shows him his open man -- "just like he planned."  And all the weeks and months and years of practice and conditioning and, yes, innate talent, suddenly yields this effortless moment of perfection.
I won't go on about Keats' "Ode to Autumn," but if you know that poem -- yeah, it's the same idea. Ripeness is all, and ripeness never lasts.  Savor these moments when they happen; they won't come again.
It's sheer poetry, this song. There's a story embedded in it, but it's also simply about This Moment and This Feeling.  Was the pass caught?  Did they score? We never learn -- and yet somehow, I don't even care. The game's already won in my book.
Oh, and by the way?  If you find yourself whistling this gorgeous tune for the rest of the day -- you're welcome.   

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