RIFFS / Shakespeare's in the house: Chris Rea jumps to Womack & Womack's 'Teardrops'
Thursday 26 August 1993
I started having difficulty in the Seventies when rhythm-box tracks first came out, and I worried that I was getting older. But it wasn't me, it was the music that was getting squarer. In 'Brown Sugar', 'Honky Tonk Woman', 'All Right Now', the tempo moves about a bit - it's not exactly tight - and the atmosphere of the room in which the record was made does travel into the Friday night on which it's played. When machines took over, I found myself aged 24 and not inspired to move my body.
This was the first track to do that to me for 12 or 14 years, it was a wonderful experience, like God was smiling down on me again, like He was still there.
It's a classic Friday night Romeo and Juliet story - somebody's been unfaithful, and the scenario's taking shape within the opera of the weekend dance. It's about misery, but Cissy makes it sound OK because she sings from her soul - she gets that hard Tamla Motown sound like Martha Reeves, and she sings as if she's playing an instrument, she doesn't make a big job of a long word.
It's got the classic synth noise, a funky sound in its own right, not a copy of another instrument. The whole thing is in and out in three minutes, but says it all. I would hazard a guess they worked in the old way, and they put it down when they were feeling good about themselves. I guess it runs at about 130 beats per minute, and whenever I hear it I want to jump up: 'Footsteps on the dancefloor, reminds me baby of you / Teardrops in my eyes, next time I'll be true.' Those are four lines that would take Shakespeare 19 lines to say the same thing in. I think if the feeling is there, the grammar doesn't count.
'Teardrops On The Dancefloor' is on the Womack & Womack album 'Conscience', 4th & Broadway BRCD519.
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