Sunday, 22 May 2011

The Detroit Spinners - Could It Be I'm Falling In Love? (1973/ No. 11/ 14 weeks/ Atlantic)

As a pop-obsessed 12-year old of 1985, this was obviously a song that I knew well, thanks to David Grant & Jakki Graham. But I had never knowingly heard the original version until Dale Winton played it on Pick of the Pops one Saturday a couple of years ago. So the initial effect on hearing this was to be struck by quite what a feeble effort the UK interpretation is; a blaring and thumping eighties arrangement that lacks finesse and turns the song into a karaoke number.

An absolutely crucial thing about this song that I hadn’t realized until I heard it anew again was how badly it works as a duet. Grant and Graham interpret the thing as being a buoyantly cheery song of found love – the ‘Could it be?’ question clearly a rhetorical device, a veneer of faux coyness to cover a mood of mutual triumphalism.

Actually, though, this is a song that is above all about doubt – about a sense of disbelief about the possibility of finding love and happiness;

Since I met you I’ve begun to feel so strange
Every time I speak your name…
That's funny.
You say that you are so helpless too.
That you don’t know what to do.

- and of admitting this to yourself when it may once again turn to ashes;

Each night I pray there will never come a day
When you up and take your love away…
Say you feel the same way too
And I wonder what it is I -
Feel for you

This mood of vulnerability is accentuated by the Al Green styling of the vocal. The music too is extremely slow, and the arrangements are all quite subtle details. This is an archetypal slow dance number to neck and to cling to at the end of the dance (or it would work just as well to cry into your beer to), to make the dancers very aware of the beating of hearts – either their own or the other’s.

The female vocals that come in at the chorus are spectral, as much in the mind of the singer as a woman who he’s talking to. This sense of internal feelings being externalised is accentuated by the ad lib to fade in the last minute of the single;

I walk around with my heart in my hands hey
Walk the street as long as I can baby
I used to sing (…)
Once you get me up
Won’t let me down
Just let this feeling carry me on…
Skip the beats with my heart, girl

Hushed. Awed. Sanctified by love.

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