Sometimes a highly enjoyable pop tune isn’t so much extraordinary as perfectly executed within the limits of what it is. They can’t all be Strawberry Fields Forever. They can’t all have astonishing chord sequences, unexpected key changes, innovative structures, and bold conceptual underpinnings. Yet a song that objectively might offer nothing particularly new might still be assembled with such craftsmanship that it’s just plain delightful – sometimes a really good rock ‘n roll song adopts all the tried and true conventions and just does it right, all of it just so, leaving you wanting to hear it again. I think one of the best recent examples of this can be heard in the Lumineers’ Ho Hey, which you can find on this blog site under Graeme’s Video Emporium, or on YouTube etc., if that suits you better.
Paul Westerberg’s Love Untold is that sort of song. Westerberg is a very good songwriter who cut his teeth in a much admired if commercially luke-warm band called The Replacements. On his own he’s enjoyed only moderate success, but this song gleaned a little airplay for a while, and should have got more. All the traditional elements are in perfect balance, the power chords, the descending melody of the verses, the forceful middle eight. It’s one of those songs that manages to be poignant even as it rocks pretty hard, and tells a story about missed chances and unrequited love that has real emotional heft.
Does anyone recall the saddest love of all, the one that lets you fall, nothing to hold?