Introductions are a fact of life. They can be absolutely inane, unmemorable to the point of almost nonexistance, but they are always there. Most songs fit into that general category; at first there’s silence and then there’s the song. If you’re lucky you get a faux intro (i’m a total sucker for the vesitigal stick count off, or the breif moment of band-banter), or a few bars of intro, but most songs lack a killer first line. Which is perhaps why, when a song really does introduce itself, it rings something special to me.
The Cavalry Cross has an intro so entirely important, it takes up almost a quarter of the track’s running time. Richard Thompson is not a noodler, so one must wonder why he starts off this grey, damp gunpowder song with a guitar solo. Although “solo” is probably the wrong word; while the guitar is the focus for the song’s first minute, it doesn’t sound anything like a guitar solo. It sounds like a person, a voice writhing and explaining. It sounds hyperextended, warbling between excstacy and pain. And then when it ends, because it is all a Richard Thompson song, and this is a man with real humor about the whole thing, he takes this miraculous guitar sound and slashes it to silence with a breif c chord. And immidiately, the song begins.
As far as I can tell, bob dylan has only laughed once. And it wasn’t with you, it was at you. The introduction to Bob Dylan’s 115th Dream is one of my moments in recorded music. Dylan starts playing the song, gets through the first line, and then cracks. And can’t stop. Of course, the reason he’s laughing is because his band didn’t start along with him, but it’s such a deep caustic laughter, and it’s so much deeper than just a botched opener. He’s laughing at you because you expected an acoustic rambling man tale like “Motorpsycho Nightmare” from Another Side, and he’s laughing at you because you’re probably not going to take the song seriously enough, but then you’ll know it like gospel. He’s laughing because he already knows the lyrics, so he knows what the tombstone reads at the end. I remember having a conversation with the single most Dylan obsessesd friend i’ve ever known, and telling him that I loved the song so deeply because it was Dylan at his most honest and least guarded. I still love the song, but after a few years, I think it’s the opposite. Those 26 seconds are dylan getting his fists up first and chasing the air our of your stomach.
Sorry for the delay in posts. I got kidnapped by chicago for a while. It won’t happen again.