December 10, 2010

Lyrically Speaking: It Makes No Difference

  Earlier this morning when I was contemplating doing another Lyrically Speaking, "It Makes No Difference," by the Band popped into my head because of the sheer pain in the lost love of the words. When a song makes you feel something deeply -- pain, happiness, etc. -- you've got greatness.
  By sheer chance, today also just happens to be the 11-year anniversary of the death of Band bassist Rick Danko. While Rick didn't write the song (that would be Robbie Robertson, probably one of the most underappreciated American songwriters), he did sing it. His mournful voice, which he often stretched into registers I didn't think possible, perfectly projects the deep, deep loss of the lyrics. So RIP, Rick. We miss you.
  As for the lyrics, Robertson came up with some beauties. First of all, this song isn't written in standard verse, verse, chorus, bridge, verse. It sounds instead like it was written as if the person was just rambling through his sorrows, tears rolling down his cheeks. My favorite line: "Since you've gone it's a losing battle/Stampeding cattle/They rattle the walls." Stampeding cattle? Wow. This guy is really bad off!! And this line, another killer: "Well, I love you so much/It's all I can do/Just to keep myself from telling you/That I never felt so alone before." Yikes.
  Robertson is known for his story-songs -- "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down," "Get Up Jake," "Up on Cripple Creek" -- songs that sort of transport you to another place and time. But for me, this song just eats me up. "It Makes No Difference" is originally found on 1975's "Northern Lights - Southern Cross," but may be best heard in the Band's farewell concert "The Last Waltz" (see video below).
  Oh, one more note: If you like the Lyrically Speaking entries, you can easily find them by going to the Labels pulldown menu to the right, and look for "lyrically speaking."

It Makes No Difference
It makes no diff'rence where I turn
I can't get over you and the flame still burns
It makes no diff'rence, night or day
The shadow never seems to fade away

And the sun don't shine anymore
And the rains fall down on my door

Now there's no love
As true as the love
That dies untold
But the clouds never hung so low before

It makes no diff'rence how far I go
Like a scar the hurt will always show
It makes no diff'rence who I meet
They're just a face in the crowd
On a dead-end street
And the sun don't shine anymore
And the rains fall down on my door

These old love letters
Well, I just can't keep
'Cause like the gambler says
Read 'em and weep
And the dawn don't rescue me no more

Without your love I'm nothing at all
Like an empty hall it's a lonely fall
Since you've gone it's a losing battle
Stampeding cattle
They rattle the walls

And the sun don't shine anymore
And the rains fall down on my door

Well, I love you so much
It's all I can do
Just to keep myself from telling you
That I never felt so alone before

From "The Last Waltz"

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