Big Joanie, Cranes in the Sky

This song makes me want to pick up a bass guitar again.

I was talking about timbre and genre with a music theorist colleague today. About the way that genre can rarely be chalked up to form or harmony or meter and about how it’s so often tied to the identity of performers in a way that overrides sound.* About how, if it genre is rooted in sound at all, it’s rooted in timbre: in the sounds of voices and of instruments, or in echo, reverb, amplification, distortion, or their absence.

I added this song to a playlist that I called Shimmer. It’s a collection of songs tied together by timbre that I guess I’m trying to pull together into a genre? a style? 90s shoegaze is over-represented but if you imagine the platonic ideal of that sound you can hear one slice of what I was going: songs where individual pitches get subsumed in echo and distortion, where drums reverberate, where voices are part of choruses. Songs that are loud but still float, where melodies are somehow both clear and indistinct.

Big Joanie’s echoing drumbeat drew me in, the bass thrummed in time with my heartbeat, the solo voice wove through them like a thread in a tapestry, and the harmonizing voices that join on the chorus pull everything together.



*See: Maureen Mahon on how Black musicians have a hard time being accepted as rock and roll artists, me on P.P. Arnold, etc.