Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The Roches

I have a very vague memory of this song, from what age I have no idea. I'm at my grandparents' house on the Cape, I think. It's probably a holiday, because most of my mother's family is there. My aunt K— and another aunt, either D— or S—, are singing this song a capella.

This doesn't happen a lot; we weren't one of those musical families that sits around singing songs at every gathering. In fact, I can't remember this happening any other time.

In my memory their voices are beautiful, the harmonies perfectly practiced and delivered . I can still hear the closing lines, and could recall them years later effortlessly. The song is sad, but my aunts are having fun with it, with each other.

Because of that, this is one of those records I used to pick up and mull over every time I would see it in a bin somewhere, but I never took the plunge until this past weekend, when I found it in Northampton's own Dynamite Records for the irresistable price of $2. As a result, I had never actually heard the original version of the song until this week. I suppose I could have found it online, but it never occurred to me to do so.

As it turns out the record was produced by none other than Robert Fripp (and features Tony Levin on bass, no less!), but apart from the occasional brief and busy guitar solo, he basically stays out of the way and lets the three Roche sisters' unadorned voices carry each other. Multiple acoustic guitars blend into a somewhat formless backdrop on most tracks, this one being the blurriest.

It's a terrific song, and the refrain melody sounds just as I remembered it. The singers are top-notch, their voices technically spot-on every note. But even though I only heard it once many years ago, and even though it probably wasn't quite as crisply executed as I recall, I think I prefer my aunts' version. Memory is a funny thing.

Buy it (scroll down)... on vinyl.

From my deck to you: The Roches – "The Married Men"

NOTE: Pardon the crappy recording, by the way. I tried to clean up the record as best I could, but you get what you pay for, and this one was two bucks.