There are certain songs that possess a strange magic. The capturing of a moment, the summing up of a life, the encapsulating of assured optimism and inevitable disappointment in the singular space between a lyric phrase and a piano note; these are the moments when we remember why songs are sung and passed down and listened to in the dead of night, why they can carry you through to dawn, and why they can make you stop and question everything that has gone before and then walk away to start a new life.
There are certain songs like this; they come rarely; there are not many of them. One of these songs came hissing out of my car radio one time, and then broke the static silence another time, so that I remembered the band name, and knew it was them when the agency sent me the mail to say that they were coming to town – and sent me the CD too.
Which came to live in my car with me, on long winter drives along cold lakes and watching mist rising out of deathly mid-winter north European mornings; that reminded me that it was alright, when I held my head and didn’t think I was going to make it this time; that whispered bassily to me through heavy headphones on the sofa in the dark somewhere late in the night, empty and exposed and not knowing.
“This Is How I Let You Down” is one of those songs that get you and hold you down
“This Is How I Let You Down” is one of those songs that get you and hold you down. Surprisingly though it was another song from the album, “Old Piano” that was the one that won singer-songwriter Jon Motte a Nashville songwriting prize from among 8,000 bands from all over the world, and propelled him into assembling what became The Franklin Electric, to record the album, and to go out and sing these songs to people.
Motte has said that it was the death of his earlier musical partner that pushed him into finishing, finalizing and recording songs, instead of just messing around with them. Maybe it’s that which he harks back to constantly, the melancholy that leaves its fingerprint on every song. And yet to see them on stage, you realise that it must be true that the root of joy is in sadness – and vice versa.