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My new favorite song

March 7, 2013

My new favorite song is “Reckless Heart” by Matt Hires.

It succeeds my last New Favorite Song: Franz Schubert’s Notturno in E flat major op. 148 for piano, violin and cello (it was new to me). My last, last, new New Favorite Song was “Needle and Thread” by Matt Duke.

Why do I love this song? It’s first line:

Pretty girls come from the ugliest places. You come from the worst of them all.

Awesome first line. Witty and snarky and true. A universal truth turned particular. It’s the kind of thing Jane Austen said, only with fewer words (you already know my affection for Miss Austen).

I think I was subliminally prepped to like this song by the briskly strummed mandolin (or maybe just guitar in a high register) intro. “Reckless Heart” has this in common with two old favorites—  “Yo-ho, Sebastian” (Cosmo Jarvis) and “And We Danced” (The Hooters) a tune from my all-too-safe and sadly wasted youth.

Hires is from Tampa, so its not surprising to hear a country influence in his music. Oddly I also get a Canadian vibe that reminds me of Blue Rodeo and Barenaked Ladies, and I hear a touch of Celtic. I think that has to do with the ballad format and the meter. The lyric is in triplets with the stress on the third syllable: pret-ty GIRLS come from THE ug-ly-EST pla-ces YOU …. And I like how he ends the first stanza with fall and starts the next with follow.

The “kiss under traveling skies” is a nice image. It could be big, fluffy clouds moving fast across a bright blue sky, or long rows of wispy, serrated clouds like the waves on a following sea. Skies rhymes with dis-guise which happily associates, in my mind, with the great Springsteen song “Brilliant Disguise” and the George Bensen standard “This Masquerade.” A big part of the appeal of a new song is how it reminds you of old ones.

Now comes the chorus. “Oh, you got a restless heart beating ou-ou-ou-out on your sleeve.” The stuttering ou-ou-ou, simulating that fast-beating heart, really makes you want to sing along. Hires and his producer up the ensemble in the refrain and lay a nice jingly-jangly tambourine on top for more energy and playful infectiousness.

Usually it’s men who are restless in love—reluctant to commit and always having an eye out for something better. Here it’s the girl who is the tom cat. She knows she can use her good looks to get what she wants from any man. “Reckless Heart” is about the tyranny of beautiful women and one man’s honest rebellion against it. That’s what he means when he sings,

Everyone’s looking for love, looking for something to hold on to. Oh, I’ve looking for 25 years, and I know I won’t find it in you.

He’s saying “you can’t fool me anymore.” Listen to the disdain in “you” like she’s something he stepped in. It’s a massive putdown, a lot more hurtful than the name calling artists in another genre would use.

Matt Hires

A hero has risen to fight the tyranny of beautiful girls.

Notice how Hires completely abandons the cadence and melody at the beginning of the phrase? He’s in the honesty of the moment.

What seemingly starts as another country-western love-gone-wrong song ends up a positive pop anthem. He’s learned his lesson and won’t be blinded by crushes or lust anymore, or be conned by flirtation into one sided love. All that layered guitar energy carries a pledge of male self-respect. “Reckless Heart” has irony, but is not an ironic song. It’s energetic, fun, poetic and honest. That’s what I like.

Two old favorites from Canada:

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