Books for Everyone!

July 2022

The Way

Certain types of songs I do not find by myself. Dear Husband introduces them to me. They are fantastic ditties that I otherwise never would have listened to, heard of, or remotely understood. I live in a completely different musical world from that of my Webmaster.

One such example is Guitar Noir, by the Aqua Velvets, which became the inspiration for a poem by me, and then a dramatic reading.

Another example is The Way.

By Fastball.

Of course, you’ve heard of the title of this song.

You haven't?????

Well, neither has an entire flock of youngsters who were mere children during its major hit-dom, which was 1998-1999.

I’ve long known of the song, Bésame Mucho, but Dear Husband was not very familiar with it. Upon hearing it, for about the 20th time, streaming out from my backless headphones, my hubby asked me if the melodic line is similar to that of The Way.

And, yes, there definitely are some tonal similarities and chord progressions between the two songs. Not enough to trigger a George Harrison-type lawsuit (three little notes, He’s So Fine, My Sweet Lord); but enough to make me wonder if the writers of The Way may have subconsciously borrowed a bit of that Mexican modulation.

Bésame Mucho was written in 1940 by Consuelo Velázquez. It’s a terrific piece of music, haunting in its simplicity, evocative to the very end, but not, in my opinion, a great song for a singer to prove her prowess.

The melodic line is monotonous. Dale Evans sang the song in the 1944 Hollywood film, Cowboy and the Senorita. I just listened to her version, and, I must admit, I was not aware of the lyrical beauty and controlled power of her voice. To sing such a non-fluctuating tune, with its limited dynamic range, is to court disaster with the natural tendency within any vocalist to provide drama to the rhythmic succession of tones that do not feel like they’re going anywhere — except to the end.

I would mess up, more than once, somewhere along the warbling of the lyrics!

And, yet, Bésame Mucho is one of the most recorded and “covered” songs in Spanish music. Easy-to-sing does not automatically translate to pleasing-to-hear; I prefer this song as an instrumental. This melody is the background for my dramatic reading of Chapter 1 of THE LAST WALTZ.

But back to The Way.

The melody and lyrics of this song were obviously haunting enough that they persisted in the mind of one 10-year-old who grew up to discover — only last year — the name of this song online. I do not wish to endorse this website (I much prefer Vimeo); or to, gah, make mention of that Myspace place where this American guy hung out.

I therefore avoid any mention of that video-hosting digital graveyard, and the tag-name of the author of this societal imprint.

His comment is so tellingly emblematic of all that has gone wrong in America in music, in radio, in DJ-ing, in record/CD sales, in the entertainment industry in general, that I hereby present his troubled tale of more than 20 years of searching for . . . the name of:

The Way.

Hundreds of other listeners chimed in to post their concordant replies.

I can't believe it, this is the song I've been trying to find since I was 10 years old. There was this one summer in the 90's they played it on the radio a couple times and I loved it, but the DJ never said the name, and then they never played it again. I remember going to the music shop and flipping through as many CDs as I could trying to see if any of the titles sounded remotely familiar. And back then you could scan the bar codes on the CDs and play previews of the songs on headphones in the shop, and I'd do that over and over. I never found it. By the time the internet became searchable enough that I could probably find it, I couldn't remember enough of it to properly search it. Somebody mentioned it by title just now and I thought, "Wait is, that...?" and looked it up immediately. I'm just really excited right now, this is such a strange feeling.

For me, an even stranger feeling is the sense that this song is the theme for the Adults-in-Charge of America.

Where are they going without ever knowing the way?