Yesterday, from out of nowhere, I was brutally possessed by a Country and Western-loving demon.
It wanted me to listen to Islands in the Stream by Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers.
It was relentless. I was not allowed to rest.
It finally had its way when my lovely friend downloaded the track and delivered it in a cab an hour later (having trouble as I do leaving the house/ using the internet for material gain).
My God, the demon was right to be so insistent. This song is Liquid Gold.
Here is why:
‘Dooooooooooo, Doo-Doo’. ‘Doooooooooo, Doo-Doo’.
This is absolutely the best way to start a piece of music. It’s no-nonsense, stall-setting out stuff. It says, ‘I’m that kind of tune. Yeah, mock me if you want but I know who I am and now you want to know me too’.
Then Kenny kicks in like he’s just channel-surfing on the sofa and you caught him bursting into song. Big chocolate-bear Kenny with his safe beard and testosterone socks. You trust this man more than your father. You want to hear what’s on his mind.
It’s a love song- what else?
Then who’s this in the second verse? A bird? A sickly bird who may break with every note? No Way On Earth. It’s Dolly LEGEND Parton. Her breasts alone could run the United States of America. Fragile and sweet as candy but gussied up in waistcoats Karl Lagerfeld doesn’t understand. With a voice close to pain.
But she’s reigning it in: this is Kenny’s gig- for now.
You know it’s on its way. Yes, it’s Coming Home Time, Baby! A Chorus for All Seasons. Smelling like bread. Wearing a cashmere scarf. Stuffing marshmallows into its face.
It’s got harmony. It’s got chords. It’s had three grown Bee Gees licking each other’s armpits in a tiny studio to get right.
I’m so lost in the moment I don’t know which part to sing to. Am I high or low? Man or woman?
What a crazy-fool question- the chorus makes them One: Kenny and Dolly in full healthy heterosexual vocal snog. Giving a great big soft leather hug to the 80s and wisely closing with a made-up word that appears in the printed lyrics:
‘We can rely on each other aha,
From one lover to another aha.’
Oh God, I’m thinking, don’t let it end yet.
Well, do songs end on exquisite key changes? You can bet your life they do not.
It’s Dolly and she’s Taking Over. Seems she was just Warming Up. Now she’s on Fire. Kenny’s become back-up.
Go, Dolly, go!
More chorus, followed by teasing instrumental and Dolly wailing, ‘Come sail away with me’, like a giant yoyo wrapping round my soul.
And who would have thought of so many ingenious ways to keep playing with form? A slight raised note here, holding a word longer there. It could just keep going on and on forever.
And so it does, in Country and Western Heaven. If I pray to God He may just let me in.
The demon is exorcised but Dolly’s on iTunes to stay.