My goal when writing about music is often to be as reductive as possible. That’s partially for you the reader, and partly for me. While I probably can’t write 3000 words on the new album from The XX, I also doubt you’d want to read a treatise like that. My goal is to make a comparison, fit the album into a specific task (driving, partying, drinking, having sex), and leave it to the reader to make a judgment on both the song and my opinion of it. It’s a difficult task, to be sure – telling people why it is I love a song or an album. In truth, it’s probably easier to talk about why it is I don’t love something than the opposite.
But then there are times, like with this song, where I can point to a specific portion – here it’s the 2 seconds about 25 seconds in – when Ben Harper sings “baby.” It just fucking melts me. This isn’t because I like this cover better than Marvin Gaye’s original, because I don’t. But I do like this version, and I like it more because it reminds me that I am privileged to be able to write about that which I love. When I hear those two seconds – and myriad others throughout music – I realize that the entire process more transcendent than what I could ever say about it.
Ben Harper and The Innocent Criminals – Sexual Healing (Live) (mp3) from Live from Mars