Risate da amare, nelle canzoni. Un articolo del Guardian fa una breve panoramica sulle risate nelle canzoni: dai Clash, a Morissey, ai Beatles, per poi insistere su Elvis Presley. La risata nella canzone: una presenza insolita e particolare. Vi è qualcosa di irresistibile: un invito ad unirsi all’avventura, oppure una pausa per dire “Ehi, va tutto bene. È solo una canzone!”.
Via The Guardian.
Laughter is not an oddity in song – from Johnny Cash’s A Boy Named Sue to the Clash’s This Is Radio Clash, via Morrissey’s We Hate It When Our Friends Become Successful, music has given us guffaws and chuckles and wild-eyed cackles galore.
But its presence always seems faintly peculiar, or at the very least notable. A laugh isn’t music, but nor is it words, and its purpose seems so different to that of the more guttural grunts and growls and moans that populate song. It is variously an audible expression of that great internal wriggle of joy, a callous bark of contempt or an hallucinogenic peal of delirium, to name but three.
Laughter does bring its own musicality of course — put to good use in the Laughing Policeman, a song that sounds at first peculiar and then contagious. Here, the laughter comes creeping under your skin in the same way as Jack White’s whomped-up guitar on Seven Nation Army, orKylie Minogue’s breathy chorus of la la la, as if halfway between an instrument and a nonsensical refrain.
Occasionally a burst of laughter signals that we have entered psychedelic territory, as if the wildness of rock’n’roll has led us over the line into the mind-bending and surreal – consider the Beatles’ I Am the Walrus, for example, or David Bowie’s The Laughing Gnome. The splutter of laughter at the start of Bob Dylan’s 115th Dream occurs before the entire song wheezes to a halt only to begin again, and serves to set the tone for what is to come: the great silly romp of it, the hats and crepes and stolen boots of it. There’s something quite irresistible about it – the laugh as a beckoning in, an invitation to join the ramshackle adventure.
Occasionally a laugh in a song can work to offset or underscore its subject matter. Joni Mitchell’s brittle little ha-ha! at the close of Big Yellow Taxi, for example, has a perfect Valley Girl vacuity to it. This is such a bright balloon of a song about such a sombre subject, that her final heliumed laugh seems a distillation of its message – the shrill stupidity of paving paradise and putting up a parking lot.
Sometimes, too, a laugh can serve to break the fourth wall of a song. One of my favourite on-song laughers is Elvis Presley. Elvis had a penchant for fooling around with his lyrics in live shows to make them more amusing, and perhaps the most famous example of this is the laughing version of Are You Lonesome Tonight? Recorded at the International Hotel in Las Vegas, 1969, the legend holds that Elvis had just sung the bastardised line: “Do you gaze at your bald head and wish you had hair?” when he spotted a bald man in the audience and promptly dissolved into laughter. Meanwhile his backing singer, Cissy Houston, maintained her composure, which – coupled with the melancholy of the original song – only contributes to the mirth of it.
But my favourite musical laugh is another, briefer example from the King. Performing a live version of Suspicious Minds, again in Vegas, Elvis tells the audience that this is his “new record that just came out”, and as he speaks there’s a delightful little burble under his words that seems to continue throughout the entire song until, around 6.5min in, it bursts out: “I can’t walk out,” he sings, “because I ha-HA love you too much baby …”
It’s a beautiful moment. Elvis has the perfect kind of laugh, a gleeful, faintly dirty hummunuh-hummunuh sound. And its arrival here, at such a crucial point in a track about a curdled, airless love affair, comes as a respite. “It’s ok,” the laugh seems to say. “It’s only a song.”