Sunday, October 19, 2008

Say it

A few years ago, the nostalgia site RetroCRUSH published a list of the 50 Coolest Song Parts. I'd like to add one.

I've found myself weirdly fascinated with the Ben Folds/Regina Spektor song "You Don't Know Me". In some ways it seems to go back over and mine the territory Neil Diamond and Barbara Streisand marked out thirty years ago with "You Don't Bring Me Flowers"; it is, as any Folds production is, impeccably produced, with a bouncy tune juxtaposed with harsh dump-song lyrics. It doesn't live up to its potential though -- while "Flowers" almost seamlessly converted from a solo to a duet, with really only a few rough spots that Diamond should have rewritten, Folds uses Spektor mostly as a backup singer, which, though I'm not too familiar with Spektor's work, seems to be a huge waste. It's a big whack of points off of what should be an awesome song.

Anyway, Spektor steps into character as the jilted lover precisely once in the song, for two lines at the end. Having sat through an unrelenting tirade from her soon-to-be-ex, the woman finally steps up, first with an impatient "What?", then with a cracking, devastated, but utterly defiant "Say it!"

Bam. Kick to the fucking nuts.

There is no place left to go. The man ends with a noncommittal justification for refusing to proceed further, and the song fades. Good stuff.

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