Wednesday, January 28, 2009

How Great I Art: Tony Martin: "Walk Hand In Hand"

It is rare, dear readers, that my opinion of a song is a negative one. I will always try to find some redeeming factor in the mess, some future salvation, even. But this song makes that task a hard one.

Why? Is it because of the horns, the large choir of "awe," the general sense that Martin took this song as no one else wanted it? Hmm, in part, but only in part. There is a reason the BBC banned this, and it has nada to do with standard 50s boilerplate singing or production. It is the lyrics.

"Walk hand in hand with me/Through all eternity/Have faith, believe in me, give me your hand."

"Love is a symphony/Of perfect harmony/When lovers such as we/Walk hand in hand."

"Be not afraid for I am with you all the while/So lift your head up high and look towards the sky."

"Walk hand in hand with me/God is our destiny/No greater love could be/Walk hand in hand, walk with me."

Unless you are a nun (in which case, hey! Welcome to MSBWT, and no offense to you, ma'am) this is an icky song, to say the least. There are certain topics - religion being one of them - that are best avoided in what could be called 'mixed' company; at large family gatherings, work, the bus stop, etc. Music most likely (as I understand it) came out of religious rites and languages, and the lyrics from before the Greeks up to the 50s usually were that of men and women singing in praise/fear/hope of their creator. (If I am wrong about this, I'd be very happy to hear about it.) No one but no one presumed to know what the creator would sing to them, let alone how to suggest his/her/its majesty and power.

But the 50s was a time when all kinds of lyrical boundaries were being stretched if not broken altogether, and the lyricist here thought he had a fine idea in somehow comparing a couple in love walking hand in hand to the creator's general attitude towards us mortal creatures. WRONG. Like I said, only a nun (who "marries" Jesus, in effect) could hear this and get all gooey-eyed. Does God really want to take us on a date? (Does God have a crush on me? as the teen girl magazine might ask, with a handy quiz to figure out the answer.) "He's Got The Whole World In His Hands" says one song, and yet here this unfathomably large hand is holding yours - a rather awkward situation, at best. I'm sorry, but to paraphrase a play: Your Voice Too Short To Sing Like You're God.

(Alert readers may notice this was a number two single just before "Hound Dog"; I will soon be catching up with the story of the number twos in proper order, while at the same time introducing a profound and unpredictable man. Sorry for the delay in posting this but I am nearly settled in London!)

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