Friday, September 24, 2010

Best. Song. Ever.

I think Eric Clapton's "Wonderful Tonight" is the best song ever. I'm not talking about the best worship song ("Shout to the Lord"), the best breakup song ("Little Goodbyes") or the best lullaby ("God is all Around Us"). Not the most fun in a long time ("Hey Soul Sister"), the song that takes me back to the start of our love story (tie, "Cowboy Take Me Away" and "I Could Not Ask for More"), my favorite song to sing in church ("Speak O Lord") or best hymn ("Praise My Soul the King of Heaven").

It's simply the best.song.ever.

Its opening notes roll out of the car speakers, a happy stumble in my station flipping.

It's late in the evening;
she's wondering what clothes to wear.
She puts on her make-up
brushes her long blonde hair.
And then she asks me, "Do I look all right?"
And I say, "Yes, you look wonderful tonight."

Such a simple situation, but who can't relate? It has what makes good poetry good poetry: a specific situation that's universal. It's not so specific we can't see ourselves in it, like a lot of pop music. It gives details to set the stage but let you be the woman wondering what to wear or the man telling her she looks wonderful.


We go to a party
everyone turns to see
This beautiful lady
walking around with me.
And then she asks me, "Do you feel all right?"
And I say, "Yes, I feel wonderful tonight."


Which of us hasn't wanted to be the lady everyone's turning to see? Or the guy walking in with her?

I feel wonderful because
I see the love light in your eyes.
And the wonder of it all
Is that you just don't realize
how much I love you.

He doesn't just say a bunch of cheesy, trite you're so hot and you turn me on. He shows us the couple in their natural habitat, simply being in love. Love isn't all hyped-up romance or being super-attractive or the emotional high of the wedding day; those are great moments but we don't stay there. In the trenches of real life, putting out a little effort to look good and then to be told you look wonderful is sweetness. Or to know the other one isn't feeling well even before they're willing to admit it; simple compassion that means she's not totally self-absorbed and feeding her ego on the looks of the party-goers.

It's time to go home now and I've got an aching head.
So I give her the car keys and she helps me to bed.
And then I tell her, as I turn out the light,
I say, "My darling, you were wonderful tonight.
Oh my darling, you were wonderful tonight."
I love how he's not too proud to let her drive, to accept her helping him to bed. And her gestures are so profoundly what he needs . . . his head is aching.
I like how the last lines of the verses change: You look wonderful, I feel wonderful, you were wonderful. That's songwriting, not some of the uber-lame songs out there that repeat the same 5 lines over and over and over and etc.
I asked Craig what makes "Wonderful Tonight" a good song and he said, "Its simplicity. It's straightforward with no innuendos."
Yes. Yes, babe, that's it. In far fewer words than I used.
What's your best song ever?

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