Your Favorite Moment in a Song

There was a long forgotten music blog that had a feature called Seconds (nb, I can not for the life of me remember the name of the blog). In it the blog’s writers discussed their favorite moments in songs in some detail. I always thought it was an interesting feature. I’ve thought about creating a post for it before, but always put it on the back burner.

Well, today Pitchfork posted their own version of it. So now I’m further encouraged to post a topic for this.

A note on sharing your moment: This can be a little cumbersome for a number of reasons. It’s helpful to include a link to the song, of course, and you can mark a specific time in a YouTube video, however that usually doesn’t give the listener enough context for why the moment is impactful. Make sure you specify the time in your post, and please write some words as to what makes it your favorite.  A bigger concern I have is how all the YouTube videos are going to clog up this post. I think hiding the video links behind a bitly.com allows you to circumvent Disqus automatic YouTube harvesting, but I could be wrong. 

Here’s some of mine:

The Hafler TrioKill the King 48:20. This is a weird one to start with, for a couple of reasons. 1) This isn’t really a song, it’s a whole album. That has more to do with the decision to not index individual tracks on the album, though. There are separate titles, but there’s no clear divisions in the track. This is a usual thing for Hafler Trio releases which are certainly not concerned with convenience. Speaking of which, 2) Andrew MacKenzie, the sole member of the ironically named project, has been very clear about his preference for not making albums available without their physical packaging. As such, he is rather diligent about policing uploads of his material, so there’s no YouTube videos of this moment, and I’m not going to make one. Anyway, this moment in the piece follows a long section of pure drone atmosphere. More specifically for about a minute before this, there is cascading voices constantly building, slithering in and out creating a  cacophonous ghostly chorus, and then suddenly, with no warning: Boom. A beat, isolated and alone followed by a short decay. Then again, and again, and again for about two minutes. During that time, however, there is found sound and atmosphere slowly intruding back into the piece, until the beat is subsumed. Another two minutes and a sort of siren intrudes. But it’s that initial beat that is so disarming. This is certainly not a percusive release, but when it hits, it hits hard. But it can’t stay forever.

A Girl Called Eddy “People Used to Dream” A Girl Called Eddy 3:30. A Girl Called Eddy, actually called Erin Moran in real life, released this one album on Anti- in 2004 and then, unfortunately, disappeared. It is, however, an album infused with heartbreak, perhaps more acutely, at least for me, than any other album. Moran was reeling from a divorce, and she expertly catalogs all angles of this shifted paradigm in her life. This, it’s central piece, is my favorite song on the album. Initially, I thought I would write about 2:35, when Moran’s heartache manifests in a much harder guitar line than previously and a heartbreaking howl of, “But where did it all go?”. But it’s this quieter moment that really hits it home. After the climax that follows the moment I just described, the music fades, and Moran asks, “But when did we stop taking pictures? And when did you lose all your fight? And where did you sign, ‘Give up and resign’? I never gave up on you, no, I never gave up on you.” It’s a contrastingly quite moment before the strings come back in. And the question ‘when did you stop taking pictures?’ seems so personal, and specific. It just hits you right in the chest.

Albert Ayler Trio “Ghosts: First variation” Spiritual Unity 00:00. Okay, this is perhaps a cheat as it could more properly be called an intro. But I love this false start, and I also love that they kept it in there. Normally the sort of studio chatter that begins some indie tracks annoys me. I don’t really need to know that you recorded this in a studio, or that you’re just starting out. Just play the damn song. But this moment feels very genuine, and I can almost picture Ayler starting, then taking his sax out of his mouth and wetting his famous Fibercane no. 4 reed again before starting in earnest. In reinforces the strength of Ayler’s tone, and sets the stage for the intensity of his performance. Ayler always sounds like he’s fighting through his instrument, mostly because he was, but that contributes to his undeniable spirituality. And it’s this small moment that really drives home that point.

Okay. That’s a few of mine. I’m sure there’s a ton more, but what about you? What are your favorite moments?