Make Me Happy: ‘Near You,’ Teenage Fanclub

Howdy! Album coverI’ve gotten quite intimate with Teenage Fanclub over the last six months. They have accompanied me every step of the way during the writing of my latest book, and I’ve discovered new gems from them that are wondrous and beautiful.

Take “Near You.” There’s something about this song that makes me smile and cry at the same time. During most of the song, a piano riff plays over and over that’s so simple, yet so melodic. The bass line starts at I, goes up a note to ii, then finishes with a IV before repeating. Again, simplicity.

But the more you listen, the more complex the song becomes. Two-part harmony, sometimes splitting into three-part harmony. is almost an afterthought, but adds an extra dimension to the song.

In fact, there are so many dimensions to this song that I hear something new almost every time I hear it. Layered within this song is something swirling – more keyboards maybe, or it may be in my head – that makes me light-headed. Again, the song is simple, but there’s so much going on – brass, booming drums, a sing along chorus.

And only recently did I discover the lyrics, which are sheer poetry:

I should get out of this seat
feel the world beneath my feet
strive to see more of the sun
try to change what I’ve become

Move on up through this down
take this luck and turn it around

I get near you but I never seem to reach you
I get near you but I never seem to reach you, reach you

Somewhere tonight the stars still shine
somehow I’ve got to re-align
fueled by the promise of the sun
pulled by the charm this night has spun

Move on up through this down
take this luck and turn it around

I get near you but I never seem to reach you
I get near you but I never seem to reach you, reach you

The lyrics are both positive and frustrating, which lends to the increasing complexity of the song.  The result is usually me singing along, either out loud or in my head, wondering how a Brit-Pop band like Teenage Fanclub, which started with loud, crunching guitars on the first two albums, could evolve to make such beautiful music. And a tear of happiness falls as I marvel at the beauty of music and how it can evoke such emotion in me.

 

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