Do You Feel Lucky?

(and feel free to comment! My older posts are certainly no less relevant to the burning concerns of the day.)

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Please Forgive Me: The Anthology Reviews #4: "Cuts Like A Knife"


Please Forgive Me: The Anthology Reviews is a track-by-track in-depth analysis of Bryan Adams's legacy in 36 installments. 32 to go!

Disc 1 Track #4: "Cuts Like a Knife" (May '83)

From a vocals standpoint: listen to this guy. Same voice as earlier tracks, but here he has really come into it, he has fully inherited and inhabited his instrument. From here on in he is in full possession of his powers: he makes a hoarse, strained yell sound effortless, and then he gets all hushed and whispery and expressive on us, and all of it works.

From a music standpoint: listen to this track! Here this one comes, sauntering in on a swaggering, slinky little riff and a solid, midtempo stomp that yields to pling-y guitar and ballad-style vocals, only to build right back into the chorus roar. It could almost be the loud/soft/loud grunge dynamic, a decade early! Only, less roar. Considerably.

But it's the same basic dynamic, and with the exception of the epilepsy section of the guitar solo, it all works like a dream. This song is one damn piece of work. It is put-together. From intro to verse, to prechorus, to that simple but sharp refrain: solid.

Lyrically, the refrain is a minor problem. Just lyrically. It doesn't make a lot of sense that it cuts like a knife, but it feels so right. There's some kind of definite story going on in this song, and the fact that it feels so right just doesn't fit with the rest of what's going on. I buy that it cuts like a knife! I can well believe that. But how can it feel so right? Who is this someone new she found, who is he and what does he mean to her? How can it feel so right?

But you can't argue with a song like this. The chorus-out will come in openly jeering at all attempts to make any such piddling sense: "Nah-nah-nah-Nah-nah-nah-nah-nah-nah-nah!" might as well be all "Nyahs" in the ears of such naysayers! Ultimately, whether it makes sense or not, we have no choice but to take the song's word for it.

I have a theory that there's more going on in the story than the lyrics make explicit. That there is a reason that it feels so right - but we're left with only the tantalizing fact that it does!

It feels so right.

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