Thursday, December 15, 2011

Love's In Control: The Casuals: "Jesamine"

As common as they seem now, musicians have been going on tv to compete against each other for promising stardom and riches for some time; The Casuals won Opportunity Knocks three times in 1965 and got a recording contract, but the public enthusiasm for them, as it does for so many in these situations, did not translate into an instant hit for their first single. Sure, people liked them, but not the song. And so they moved to Italy and had a career there doing Italian covers of English-language hits (they did The Bee Gees' "Massachusetts" for example). Then they changed their label from Fontana to Decca and got this hit, a cover of a song by The Bystanders written by Friendly Forbear* Marty Wilde and Ronnie Scott, the Bystanders' manager.

It sounds as if it was written and performed almost anonymously; there were no stars in this hard-working band, and it sounds very much as if the old-fashioned beat of the 50s is combined with the "butterfly child" 60s vibe of a man in love with a girl who is life and death to him, who "makes his life a dream" but doesn't seem to know what effect she has on him. It is a wistful song with a sense that beauty like this is ephemeral and a hesitancy to do anything lest she fly away, forever. The music circles around this dilemma elegantly, the music itself slowly settling and then soaring, aching to break free but not really able to; not yet, anyway. The awfulness of how he is "not really living" without her is balanced by his adoration of her, her opening his eyes being her real gift, again one she may not know she is giving.

If the previous song had the feeling of "Gee, this what falling in love is like - gosh, I'd better get used to it" then this is much closer to the near narcotic state it can have, wiping the mind clean of anything but the Other, making the rest of the world seem irrelevant and the lover can find nothing and be nothing without the beloved. Again, this might seem extreme, but the songwriters - even if published this under psedonyms - are right to emphasize the Romantic here, which The Summer of Love tried to make universal. This presents a truer sense of what nobility and vulnerability there is in love (especially, as here, one-sided & maybe even unrequited love); the next song will go far beyond this, and far beyond anything I've written about so far in terms of love's intensity and all the desperation those arrows can cause.

This song, by the way, like Leapy Lee's was The Casuals' only real hit; not to get too meta here, but it is as if Love itself was propelling these artists into the charts, to right a certain wrong. With this next song, it certainly sounds as if Love has got the reins.

*The name I use to describe anyone who has anything to do with New Pop before it actually starts; in this case, Wilde is Kim Wilde's father, so he is a literal forbear!

No comments: