As I am, at this moment, crazy in love with Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness’ “So Close,” so as part of the New Music Friday thing of giving some space to acts that are associated with Nick Fradiani in some vaguely plausible way… look, AMcMitW discovered himself to me when he played the Big Summer Show in Modesto, California, in June/July 2015, on the same bill as Nick. <=things I know off the top of my head
Three big reasons I adore this song:
1. The airplane metaphor. The VISUALS of just the first verse are awesomely bizarre and striking, and then it sticks around for the “so close to taking off, so close to going nowhere.”
2. The angsty electronic dance track. I love this kind of thing with Yaz and Erasure and the lighter Depeche Mode and Pet Shop Boys and basically everybody who was moody yet danceable in the late 1980s, especially if Vince Clark was involved. Pure anguish – yet with a beat you can dance to. Oh yes.
3. The wordplay, which was tantalizing enough that I had to look up the proper Greek scheme that applies to the bits I like. There are two, and I lucked into both being in the A’s. Anadiplosis is the repetition of “so close” at the end of the phrase “we were so close,” followed by the beginning of the phrase “so close to taking off.” Antanaclasis is using “so close” to imply emotional closeness, then using the slightly different sense that means “almost happened” or “so proximate in time.”
Antanaclasis (repetition of a word but with different meanings) is a big thing I like about Nick’s “All on You,” where the meaning of the key phrase shifts from “all your fault” to “all over you.” Here we go, and then I’ll chatter a little more about Andrew McMahon.
Anyway, the Modesto show – and a whole bunch where McMahon was on the same bill with Nick, to the point that I really wanted them to tour together – was in the era of “Cecilia and the Satellite,” which came off an album I liked immensely. My favorite song seems to be “High Dive,” which is just the essence of a certain kind of California autumn night, both for the imagery and the lovely distant wistfulness of the vocals on “headlights in the driveway.”
The essential Californiosity may be the line about “going 80 in a 45.” But I’d still argue that “headlights in the driveway” is vocally at the temperature of a warm September night when the leaves on the trees haven’t quite turned yet. “Dancing to someone else’s song” is arguably the saddest summary of a non-attainable or no-longer-attainable person from a musician’s POV.
Anyway, I was looking for video from that Modesto show (there never was much for the early acts, IIRC) and came across this curiosity from way back in 2009, when Andrew McMahon and Matt Nathanson got the urge to cover Bruce Springsteen’s “I’m on Fire” as a duet, with smoky vocals and inexorable piano.
I suppose if we’re going to be fair, I’ve gotta include Nick’s Springsteen cover, “Because the Night.” Unfortunately, I can’t find the really excellent, intense version from the 2016 Guilford Fair (if anybody ever gets the notion of selling soundboard recordings from full-band shows, I am so “there” that I’m drawing the damn map), so we’ll have to settle for the less-developed but still pretty compelling American Idol performance… as a video of someone’s TV. We’re rockin’ it low-fi here.