Saturday Single No. 8

Originally posted April 7, 2007

I was hoping, when I ran the random Baker’s Dozen from 1975 for Wednesday, that the RealPlayer would pull up a Tim Moore song. Well, it did, stopping on “Aviation Man.” And I kind of shrugged, because that was the proverbial half a loaf.

The song I had really been hoping for was “Second Avenue,” from Moore’s self-titled 1975 debut.

There are those, as I’ve said who demean the product of the singer-songwriters who made up a good portion of the population of the record charts in the 1970s. I’ll be the first to admit that there were a lot of bogus and sometimes smarmy tunes on the airwaves at the time. But really, when weren’t there? There’s always been a lot of chaff surrounding the wheat; that chaff is one of the things that make it possible for the grain to exist and be recognized.

Moore’s work is genuine grain, even as it falls on the outer fringes of the singer-songwriter universe, where the musical spectrum begins to edge into pop. And it’s work that has songcraft and wordcraft that writers in any genre would do well to examine. Moore’s music provides a strong and frequently lovely foundation for the lyrics, and his lyrics add detail upon detail until the scene is made as clear as it would be in a good short story.

Some of Moore’s stories are about love, of course. Love songs of all quality are endemic in popular music, whether about how wonderful it is to be in love or how awful it is to break up. Less common, it seems, are well-written songs about how one deals with the aftermath. “Walk On By,” by Burt Bacharach and Hal David, comes to mind, as does Carole King’s “It’s Too Late.” But that song, written by King with Toni Stern, is more about dealing with the realization that things must be ended, not about dealing with the emptiness that follows. I’m sure there are others out there, if I took the time to make a list. Even so, those songs would have to be extraordinarily good to be any better than today’s Saturday Single, Tim Moore’s “Second Avenue.”

Tim Moore – “Second Avenue” [Asylum 45208, 1975]

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