The Emptiness of a Song

There’s a certain kind of emptiness you can hear in some songs. I was thinking about that on my walk with the dog this morning. It’s one of the things that I viscerally dislike about the Velvet Underground.

It’s one of the aesthetic things that’s hard to talk about. But there’s something about the sound of the room I don’t like. It’s empty in a way I can’t stand. There’s a kind of hollowness in it. A kind of sharp hollowness.

I associate it with New York, but that may be unfair. Except you can hear that same kind of hollowness in this song.

So, I’m not alone, I don’t think, in associating that kind of space in the song with New York.

Last night, I had to talk myself out of buying the Chess Records box set, but as I was listening to the previews of the songs, I realized, interestingly enough a lot of those old Chicago blues also have a kind of hollowness to them, but one that I experience as warm and pleasant.

And it made me wonder if it might indeed be a known quality of either the recording studios they were using or how they set the band up in them or even how the track was mixed.

I’m not sure if this even makes sense and I certainly don’t hear it in all songs, but sometimes there’s a kind of sharpness to the space around the music that I really dislike and sometimes there’s a warmth in that space that I do like. But I’m not sure what it is that I’m experiencing or where in the mix it’s located.

But it does make me wonder one thing. Is this why I’m all in for The Doors? Yes, I intellectually get why they’re terrible. I don’t care. I love them. Every ponderous, belabored over-poetic, too full of their own genius part of them.

All their songs have that warm room feel.