Notes on Curtis Mayfield’s “Move On Up”
1. This is my favorite percussion of all time. Not all speakers allow every sound to pass through optimally, but when you can really hear it, it is perfection. Steady momentum (see #5) with a surprising amount of subtlety and lots of little fills keep it real fresh.
2. (Full disclosure: I am not a drummer) I especially appreciate the use of cymbals in this song. It’s my fault for attending so many basement shows, but especially in live performances, cymbals (important: in gratuitous hands particularly) ruin songs. Everything starts to sound like, kccccchhhrrrrrrrrssssssssshh and the lack of restraint (which I maintain is crucial to music, although I might concede that it’s a matter of taste, but that’s just another subject altogether) becomes sort of grotesque. This is tangential since recorded music obviously operates under different circumstances, but the point is that I’ve come to be thankful for good cymbal usage. There is an ungodly amount of treble in this world. Treble is the Debil (not really). Anyway, I am not totally anti-cymbal or anything. Hi-hats are good.
3. At 3:07 a horn makes an awesome screech which I am crazy about.
4. And then, at 3:50, about halfway through the song, there is this part that sounds like a benediction, like, Amen, amen, and I like to think that we are in heaven for the rest of the song. I especially like to think this because the next song on this Curtis Mayfield collection is called, “(Don’t Worry) If There’s a Hell Below, We’re All Going to Go.” The Yin to this Yang.
5. Okay, and about momentum: ”Move On Up” is maybe the most prime example of this concept that has become newly important to me. Because I spent a lot of time traveling as a kid, and being on the road was the most concentrated listening-to-music time, songs with momentum make the most sense. Tempo doesn’t factor in as much as how a song is paced. When you hear a song with awesome momentum it sounds like a circle. Like a wheel. A lot of the ‘70’s “California Sound” has this quality, maybe because therein lies a Culture of Driving. Anyway, listening to music is being in motion and when we are in motion (walking, driving, exercising, thinking, etc), we tend to listen to music because it sets the pace for our lives. I think this is something that the songs I have made in the past have distinctly lacked, but for this new project I’m working on, I am trying to infuse more circular momentum.