Monday, September 3, 2007

The Wide-Eyed and Laughing

I'm almost sure that this title refers to some sort of literary or pop-music reference; but what it is escapes me. For a long time I thought it might be a Byrds song, due to the presence of David Crosby and Graham Nash, but that turned out to be Starry-eyed and laughing, from "Chimes of Freedom".

This song, as much as any other on Moves, highlights the depths of Bernie's relationship issues at the time, not only with his dissolving marriage but his professional relationship with Elton as well:

Are you still in control of the boat that you row
Or do you still cling to me when its sinking
I never condemned you, I only consoled you
When candlelight made me a King


Whoever it's about, the writer is disillusioned with the relationship as it is, and is thinking back to better days and knowing that it was doomed from the start:

For no one knew better than the tealeaves and the tarots
That the wide-eyed and laughing
Were just one step ahead of the wind


John certainly assists in this perception by casting this in a woozy musical setting of Theramin-sounding synths, Johnstone's sitar, and chorus vocals featuring the forever-identified-with-the-hippie-dream Crosby and Nash. It's a serviceable melody, and certainly sounds unlike anything else on the album, or even in EJ's repertoire- but it has a static feel and isn't especially memorable, despite its unusual nature.

Much has been made of the downbeat and depressed nature of almost every cut on this album, and this track is certainly another example of how unhappy both men seemed to be at the time. Bernie in particular (at least in my admittedly incomplete experience) was never again as open and personal in his writing as he was on Moves and a couple of Rock of the Westies tracks; he is baring his wounds for all to see and that never makes for a comfortable listening experience.

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