by Chris de Serres
“I had the great honor to tour with The Beach Boys, both as part of The Raspberries in 1974, and as a solo act in 1976. I can remember standing in the back of the hall listening to them play “Surfer Girl” every night, and, literally, getting tears in my eyes every time they came to a stop after… “Do you love me, do you surfer…….” Then the spotlight would hit Al Jardine as he would sing ….”girl.” It was really an odd feeling to be brought to tears, almost every single night by such a simple song.”
– Eric Carmen
Melody is one of the most beautiful unions in music. You take many voices and fold them together into one living elevation of art. They exist separately and as one. I used to love to listen to good vocal melodies over and over. I could listen to “I Can’t Tell You Why” by the Eagles over and over again. The way Henley and Frey gently buoy and transform Tim Schmit’s lead vocals in the chorus, it’s just so understated but magical. It’s an amplifier of emotion. The first 15 seconds of “Don’t Worry Baby” by the Beach Boys is this incredible wave of aural warmth. It’s overwhelming how the blend of voices fill up all the space around me.
Rock climbing has it’s own melody. It’s called simulclimbing. It’s when two climbers, connected by a rope, climb at the same time. It is a risky technique done only by experienced climbers who are well acquainted with each other. When it’s done well, you and your partner function as one organism. Moving and stopping together. It gives you the impression that you are flying up the mountain. Picture in your mind the way snakes and caterpillars move. That is a simulclimb.
I once simulclimbed with a partner who had been climbing since the 60’s. I was leading the rope and he was on the tail end. We moved so smoothly and effortlessly that I had to look below myself every so often to make sure he was still there. We didn’t do much talking. Things were going too well to break the silence. We just folded into each other and upward into the sky.
That was many years ago, when we ‘flew’ up a mountain. I have been trying to recreate that experience ever since. I guess that’s what makes melodies so incredible. It’s a special union which happens at one point in time. Then it’s over. The effort was put forth and it elevated the medium into something otherwordly. Something original. Something that transcends any singular effort.
A great melody can never be forgotten.