Kiss of Venus

We are trying to use art to help give meaning to our lives. We might be minded then to consider a bit more what art is? Not so much to arrive at some definitive answer, but more to articulate or own views and so do better at making good use of art.

Let’s start with an exchange between JL and CM concerning the recording of Paul McCartney’s ‘Kiss of Venus’. Here’s the link that started it all off <https://youtu.be/JjXTmILf3oQ> Have a listen to see what you think.

JL : Not my cup of tea at all. A bit corny – ‘Kiss of Venus gets me on the go……..what does this mean? Is it art? Bet you sing it better. PC does not sound much on the go……more like on the gone.

CF : You are so unimaginative sometimes. I guess most of the songs I sing would probably sound corny to you.

JL : Too bad for me. I want to know what you think of them and what they do for you. Think about it? If not corney, then what and why? WMBT!

CF : Well it is a matter of poetic sensitivity. I think this is a point where you and I cannot agree.

JL : It is not a matter of agreement, but of you following through a bit better on some of your assertions. All part of self-articulation.

CF : Actually it is not the lyrics themselves but lyrics plus voice plus melody.

JL : Let’s pursue this later.

CF : OK, but I don’t think you will find my view interesting.

JL : That’s my problem.Your problem is whether you find it interesting……..

CF : I do but you already have your own critical opinion on the song.

JL : So what. It is open to change….

CF : Haha I doubt it. But ok I will try to explain.

JL : On what grounds. I change my mind all the time.

CF: Let’s do this properly ! Your sligtly contemptuous comment about that song made me fly off the handle but it is indeed a great occasion of ’self-articulation’ as you’d say. I usually have a very intuitive approach of music so it is quite an interesting exercise.
First of all, the lyrics. They might sound nonsensical but I don’t think they are at all. The “kiss of venus” is a poetic name given to the movements of Venus around the Earth in astronomy. To me, the song is a contemplative observation of the discreet harmony of the universe, whether it be in the movement of the planets, in landscapes, or in the connexion between two minds. The phrase « this golden circle has the most harmonic sounds » particularly resonates with me. The chords changes at that very moment emphasize the impression of harmony and make the words even more meaningful. 

JL : For easy reference here are the words of the song

The Kiss Of Venus

Paul McCartneyDominic Fike

The kiss of Venus has got me on the go
She’s scored a bullseye in the early morning glow
Early morning glow

Packed with illusions, our world is turned around
This golden circle has a most harmonic sound
Harmonic sound

And in the sunshine when we stand alone
We came together with our secrets blown
Our secrets blown

Now moving slowly, we circle through the square
Two passing planets in the sweet, sweet summer air
Sweet summer air

And in the sunshine when we stand alone
We came together with our secrets blown
Our secrets blown

Reflected mountains in the lake
Is this too much to take?
Asleep or wide awake?
And if the world begins to shake
Would something have to break?
We have to stay awake

Packed with illusions, our world is turned around
This golden circle has a most harmonic sound
Harmonic sound

And in the sunshine where we stand alone
We came together with our secrets blown
Our secrets blown

The kiss of Venus has got me on the go
She’s scored a bullseye in the early morning glow
Early morning glow

The kiss of Venus has got me on the go

Songwriters: Paul McCartney

CF : Hello there.

Another interesting fact about Paul McCartney. Yesterday I watched documentary about the Beatles that just came out. It is basically footage of the recording of one of their last albums. And it really shows McCartney’s songwriting process. The instrument and melody always comes first, then he tries to find lyrics to enhance the melody. This explains why the lyrics are sometimes « corny », and he says it himself. The lyrics are just here to serve the melody and not the other way around. He is more interested in the sound of the words than in their actual meaning. I thought it was quite insightful and interesting.

JL : PC and I agree then? I find it impossible to divorce the meaning and the sounds of songs, although I don’t necessarily require any deep interpretation of them.

CF : Talking about the musical aspect of the song : I like the fact that it is a simple guitar-voice song. I tend to get drawn to stripped-down songs because it allows the listener to really hear the sincerity of the voice and to get a hold of the melody and the harmonies. You think PMC’s voice is « on the gone », and you’re right, because he is 79. But I think the little cracks and the fragility of the voice make the song even more genuine and touching. I have listened to so many songs of his, and I am always amazed to notice that, whether he is 25 or 60, he still sings his songs with the same sincerity. And it almost brought me to tears on the first listenings to hear him embrace his vulnerability.

JL : I have to say that I had never thought of it like that. Of course, I take my hat off to him as a person, but that is not what I would listen to a song for……

Here’s a 79-year-old man who could have retired years ago but still writes and records songs. So it may not seem perfect or technically impressive but that’s what makes me appreciate it. It is rough and sincere, poetic and humble.

JL : It’s certainly (delicately) rough, but I find it hard to think of PC as humble. However, I respect your appreciation of the song being sincere and poetic. I lack the musical sensitivity, I suspect.

CF : You shouldn’t get fooled by the apparent simplicity of the chords, it is actually very well crafted (and not easy to play, as are all of his songs). And it is art for sure, because PMC is probably one of the greatest British songwriters ever. 

JL : I defer to both your musical competence and judgement on this one.

As a last comment, I had the idea of trying to decide, whether in time I could see how I might come to appreciate the song and the singing, more than at this time, following your insights……unfortunately the answer is negative. Some of the reasons would appear to be my lack of technical musical competence, my enjoyment of other types of music, little or no context/personal meaning for the song, PC’s celebrity status and the associated huffing and puffing on all sides.

How about this for an idea……..? Listen to this

(There’ll Be Bluebirds Over) The White Cliffs of Dover – YouTube

https://www.youtube.com ›

I think the song is corny, sentimental, self-indulgent and exploitative of patriotism for gain…….but I love it……….

What do you think? I would be pleased to know……..

JL : Just had a thought……..Let’s take a different PC song and I will reflect thereon, using the categories, which you used for XoV……might clarify a few things (or not, of course).

The song I have chosen is Mull of Kintyre. I have always liked it, but can’t say that I actually listen to it much……I find it sentimental, but acceptably so (I am also a bit sentimental). It’s also quite tuneful, without the irritating repetitions of XoV. I sing along with after recent playings……..the song pops into my head from time to time.

Mull of Kintyre

Paul McCartney and Wings

Mull of Kintyre, oh mist rolling in from the sea
My desire is always to be here
Oh, Mull of KintyreFar have I travelled and much have I seen
Dark distant mountains with valleys of green
Past painted deserts, the sun sets on fire
As he carries me home to the Mull of KintyreMull of Kintyre, oh mist rolling in from the sea
My desire is always to be here
Oh, Mull of KintyreSweep through the heather like deer in the glen
Carry me back to the days I knew then
Nights when we sang like a heavenly choir
Of the life and the times of the Mull of KintyreMull of Kintyre, oh mist rolling in from the sea
My desire is always to be here
Oh, Mull of KintyreSmiles in the sunshine and tears in the rain
Still take me back where my mem’ries remain
Flickering embers grow higher and high’r
As they carry me back to the Mull of KintyreMull of Kintyre, oh mist rolling in from the sea
My desire is always to be here
Oh Mull of KintyreMull of Kintyre, oh mist rolling in from the sea
My desire is always to be here
Oh Mull of Kintyre

CF : Talking about the musical aspect of the song (XoV) : I like the fact that it is a simple guitar-voice song. I tend to get drawn to stripped-down songs because it allows the listener to really hear the sincerity of the voice and to get a hold of the melody and the harmonies. 

JL : This is a guitar song a plusieurs plus a regimental pipe band. The latter is associative, but fits in well musically and with the Scottish motif. Not sure that I got hold of the melody and harmonies in the way you do. Indeed, I clearly do not, but I do enter into the spirit of the thins.

CF: You think PMC’s voice is « on the gone », and you’re right, because he is 79. But I think the little cracks and the fragility of the voice make the song even more genuine and touching. I have listened to so many songs of his, and I am always amazed to notice that, whether he is 25 or 60, he still sings his songs with the same sincerity. And it almost brought me to tears on the first listenings to hear him embrace his vulnerability.

JL : Not sure that I am good on sincerity. Not relevant to MoK, in my case. By the way, what do you make of MoK. I would really like to know.

PS1 I did not say that PC was not humble, merely that “I find it hard to think of PC as humble”. The reason for this is simple. So much of his reputational being is invested in-th-eyes-of-others, that he must find it hard to put that behind him, which he would need to do to become humble. His celebrity, in my view, would be likely to get in the way…….What’s the basis for your thoughts on his ‘humility’?

PS2 Oh yes…. is it art? Of course. It’s musical art and more precisely ‘pop’ musical art. It’s got both musical and lyrical structure and content. Unpacking that is more of a job for you, however.

How are we doing? WMBT!

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