this must be the place....goin strong , yeah baby!!!

Monday, October 20, 2008

More Arthur - What It's Like

So here is another song off of Love is Overtaking Me, the soon to be released Arthur Russell compilation.

Arthur Russell - What It's Like

Originally I thought this to be the weakest song on the album. The compilation is country themed, and this is one of the songs where the instrumental timbre of country music is strongest. There is a wanking lead guitar, slithering organ line, and a slow-walking bass. The drum beat is straight and simple rock, but a little articulation on the hi-hat really goes a long way. A triumphant trumpet gives the song a boost about halfway through.

Lyrically, it shares some of the nature description in previous songs, but the writing as a whole is dramatically different. First and most obvious is that it reaks with cliches and some of the lines are really awkward rhymes. What makes this passable, and even an asset to the song, is the structure of the story-line.

It's easy to ignore the continuity because of the staggered vocal phrasing, but if you pay close attention to the song as a whole, it has some depth to it. It's open to interpretation who the speaker is in the second half of the song, but if you cast it as the preacher it ties a lot together. Suddenly the silly sounding organ runs make sense and the bad rhyming and overly simplified descriptions of love fall right in line with the zeal of a man making a forced decision on religious logic.

I thought I'd post the lyrics to the song in order to help you follow the story and form an interpretation of your own:

In Iowa, in the tall grass
there is a couple.
She's very young,
he's a young preacher.

And every day they would go out
to the fields where nothing is planted
and lie in the tall grass.

But one day, he called her into the sanctuary.
He said, "Kate, I've been touched by the Lord.
I don't need you anymore."

She didn't know what to think.
But she loved the Lord.
So she just leaned back in the pew and thought about the tall grass and said:
"Reverend..." she said,
"Reverend... Reverend the only reason I did it is to find out what it's like."

Give me, the truth to me,
and tell me of what I see,
a feeling there must be an answer for me,
I feel like I ache all over inside,
my heart is so,
so troubled. I feel like I could die.

Oh, is this what love's supposed to be?
But I'm not one to gamble,
And I don't need to scramble.
I didn't know that love would strike me blind.
This is what it's like.
This is what it's like.

On Sunday, I read somewhere
that real love is heart and soul,
yeah, but only a master could understand that.
I left that old magazine and walked down into the green
of summer, I felt like I could cry
but in the grass I only sat.

Well I'm not one to gamble,
and I don't need to scramble,
I didn't know that love would strike me blind.
This is what it's like.
This is what it's like.


  1. someone went and got hisself a man boner.

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. yeah, it's kind of out of control. my passion is waning though, i hear sam cooke calling again.

  4. I'm thinking about covering this song, just for fun. I was thinking it would be interesting to do female vocals on it, since the song is so ambiguous.