“I Was 17” – Easy Come Easy Go D2

Now that we are two albums deep into the sf59 pop phase, my God, I realize how much I miss Americana.  I like The Fashion Focus and Everybody Makes Mistakes.  Some of my favorite sf59 songs are on those LPs.  But they were never my go to albums.  I don’t consider this sf59 era to be my era.  Americana is part of me. TFF and EMM are albums I own.  That is the difference.  

Everything in this song is sublime to me.  I love the Americana era guitar tones and this song’s lead guitar is as clear and pure a tone as I’ve ever heard.  The lead notes hang in the air with a softness and sweetness like what you would hear from the voices in a boy’s choir.  How can the sound overflow with emotion but still remain so fragile?  

The layers of the song are simple and the approach worked here.  If anything else had been added to the mix, it would have broken the delicate lead guitar.  The acoustic guitar grounds the song.  It has that nice, chunky acoustic sound even though it is being played so softly.  Rounding out the sound, we have a marimba or xylophone (I never learned how to tell those apart).  The lead guitar succeeds because of the marimba supports the guitar and sometimes chases it.  

The lead vocals are overdubbed and JM does well keeping the pitch even.  His voice is silky and fits perfectly with the instrumentation.  The highlight comes in the outro with the extended call and response of “sorry I broke your heart” from the lead vocals and “I was 17” from the background vocals.  The voices swirl in and out of each other as the intensity in the music increases over an ascending chord progression.  And it just keeps on going.  I love how JM holds on to an outro and won’t let go.  

The music stops and we are left with a repeating sound effect (a delay of some kind?).  You hear someone chuckle and some background noise as instruments are put down.  Had I been the one in charge at the time, I would have cut that off, but I would have been wrong.  I still find it to be endearing after all these years.

Sorry I broke your heart
Left you with no start 
Don’t you know I wish 
I could take back the time

17, I was 17

Ah, the universal theme of guilt about what you have done in the past.  I feel this one in my marrow.  I think it is the human condition to hurt or be hurt, although we usually like to pretend that we are above all that.  It is a hard thing to evaluate your own actions and how you have impacted other people, even harder when you find mistakes, pain and regret in the process. 

Sorry about our plans 
Left you with no band 
Thought you’d be alright

This verse seems to indicate that he’s singing about a former band member.  I remember there being a few angry band breakup songs back on Americana.  It was sort of the Rumors era of sf59.  

The fact that this is not about a romantic relationship makes me like it even more.  It is hard enough to hold yourself accountable with a significant other.  It takes even more courage to hold your own feet to the fire for a relationship some might consider disposable.  This is the mark of a decent person.  

Don’t you know I wish 
I could take back the time

The fact that this sentiment is posed as a question intrigues me.  He could have said it a simpler way.  But asking it as a question implies that there is an intimacy in the relationship.  The object of his apology should know the singer well enough to know what kind of person he is, how he would feel and what he would do.

Sorry I broke your heart 
I was 17

The implication here is “I did this horrible thing to you because I was young and didn’t know any better.”  As if youth alone causes such folly.  When I was closer to 17, this seemed plausible.  Now it certainly does not.  I’m still trying to figure this relationship business out lo these decades later.

What happens when you are all grown up and you still haven’t figured it out yet? Does the line have the same impact if you are singing “sorry I broke your heart/I was 33”?

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