Sunday, February 20, 2011

The Alan Parsons Project - "Old and Wise" (1982)

What a coup to have Colin Blunstone around to sing this one, his voice, sounding much as it did fifteen years earlier, so familiar a presence not just in this song's style, but in its sense of exploration as well.

After the instrumental intro, the verse starts off with a two-line rhyme. Instead of developing a longer verse out of these materials, however, they are abandoned and we are instead in a new key where we hear a four-line rhyme (rhyming lines two and four) that sounds like the chorus is starting already. Next comes the refrain line, though, and it seems only now that the chorus is truly beginning and that the previous lines were part of a broken verse structure.

In the first eight bars of what is perhaps, then, the chorus proper, there are three lines of text, the aforementioned refrain line (four bars) followed by a rhyming pair (two bars each).*

And oh, when I'm old and wise
Bitter words mean little to me
Autumn winds will blow right through me

The four-bar section then repeats, but it's followed by two lines where this time line three rhymes with line one instead of line two.

And someday in the mist of time
When they ask me if I knew you
I'd smile and say you were a friend of mine

This would have been a very clever way of creating closure for the chorus, but more clever still is the fact that the harmonies do not resolve on the last line and in fact shift into a modulating section where the words continue on without a break. It is at first as though we are in a bridge, but musical development is almost immediately truncated and the title words then appear again in a rhyme that lands the song back in its home key.

And the sadness would be lifted from my eyes
Oh, when I'm old and wise

This whole magnificent structure repeats once with slightly altered words and the song then comes to an end with an instrumental coda.

* Using the same word in both lines, but the intent to rhyme here does seem apparent.

1 comment:

  1. Hey, great blog. I love how you analyze the songs in terms of structure/chord progression. Really makes me look at them in a different way. Cheers!