Should She Stay or Should She Go?

As a music professional, I've become a deeply analytical listener both at work and (for better or worse) when listening for pleasure. When I'm mastering a song, I carefully, purposefully flip my focus between minutiae and the big picture - the snare, the song, the sibilance, the air, the low end of the lead vocals, the album. When I'm listening for pleasure, I can't help falling into analytical traps and hyper-focusing on a single artist, sometimes a single song for days, weeks, months. I had a Them period, followed by a summer of Peter Sarstedt. In the months after my son was born, I alternated listening to Del Shannon and Silver Apples, a lot. Last October, I had a love affair with a single song: "California Dreamin'."


And then there's Scott Walker. He's like my high school boyfriend. I forget him for awhile, but I keep coming back to him. Early Scott, late Scott, baroque pop Scott, avant Scott.

This week, I've been listening to two Scott Walker songs on repeat. Literally. I walk around with headphones on, listening to these songs on a loop. Mostly the Scott Walker versions, but sometimes I dip into Shirley Brown or Ronald Isley versions. I don't know why these two superbly dramatic love songs have captured me, but here you go:

Make It Easy On Yourself - by Burt Bacharach and Hal David

Stay With Me Baby - co-written by Jerry Ragovoy and George David Weiss

(If you like these songs, do yourself a favor and go buy some hi-res versions!)

They are equally theatrical - heart-aching, breath-taking, kissing in the rain, driving fast down PCH1 in a 1967 Porsche 912 passionate - but in totally opposite ways. In Make It Easy On Yourself, he's telling her to go, find happiness, he'll make it alone. In Stay With Me Baby, he's pleading for her to stay, he can't live without her. But that's just the lyrical content. The music, the way he sings, the harmonies, the string arrangements, the timpani, the extra chorus...! Make It Easy On Yourself could have ended at 2:30, Stay With Me Baby could have faded out at 3:00, but oh no, we need that extra chorus!

So, which is it, Scott?