30 October 2005

an unfinished poem

the whole of the moon : terry reid
click on the image below to listen

Here's a song that leaves me curious and half-satisfied. Written by Mike Scott and originally performed by his 80s group The Waterboys, The Whole Of The Moon is probably one of the most lyrically vivid songs you will ever hear. Rich in metaphor and symbolism, it moves you so much that it almost qualifies as lyric poetry, not only in terms of composition but also in the way it contrasts two different characters. (I pictured a rainbow/You held it in your hands...I wondered, I guessed and I tried/You just knew.) The relationship between the narrator and the object of the song is open to interpretation; I see it as between one who has achieved so much, and another whom he or she has left behind, and even that doesn't say much. Which is exactly the reason why this song leaves me hanging: from the first line to the last, all it does is describe the distance between two people. There's no evolution or conclusion to their relationship; there isn't even conflict. You can say that the contrast itself suggests conflict, but I'll disagree. It's obvious that the narrator still yearns for the other person, but I'm bugged by the question of what he intends to do with his awareness of that distance. You're there, I'm here, and then what? I just wish there was a line or two to suggest some kind of closure. But then again, this very vagueness is probably also the reason why the song speaks volumes. Closure can be an overrated thing.

For the full lyrics, click here. This version, by the way, is by Terry Reid, a.k.a. the man who turned down Jimmy Page's invitation to be the vocalist of The Yardbirds, which became Led Zeppelin. Although Reid has a respectable solo career, can you image how he must feel everytime he hears a Zeppelin tune?

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