Rediscoveries: “He Left it All”
Some random thoughts:
1. That’s a really fine song.
2. One of my favorite parts of this clip is Mark Trammell’s harmonic inflections on the choruses. A lot of people - including Trammell himself, judging by this comment - seem to take George Younce’s remark that Trammell was the best quartet man Younce knew to be an endorsement of Trammell as a marquee front man. But watching this clip makes me re-wonder if Younce’s comment might have actually been a way of acknowledging Trammell’s superior, understated ability to lay down some of the best harmony in the bidness from the back of the stage. You can’t have a great quartet, after all, without good harmony, and few people have demonstrated an ability to get out of the way and do their quartet jobs as well, with as little overweening showiness, as Trammell in the ensemble.
3. Kurt Young is mostly remembered as the guy who blew his performance with the Cats at the Doves and got fired. But this clip helps contextualize his brief stint a little better. He’s not without vocal ability, of course, and he has the right look for the Cats. But he also struggles to place his tones and, more deeply, he doesn’t have much a rapport with the audience - hard to put my finger on what it is that gives me this feeling … but … well, ok … look at the way he holds the mic at the very tip end of the wand, up and away from his chin, and the way his whole upper body remains bent back and away from the audience almost the entire time … used sparingly, this posture can convey a sense of rapture and awe before divine Providence shining down from above, but striking this pose as consistently as Young does here makes it seem after awhile to be emblematic of a certain coldness or distance that he gave off on stage.
4. It’s certainly not unique to this clip, but notice the way Glen Payne stands behind Young during his second verse and talks him up all the way through to the chorus … shouting little encouragements or annotating some note or line of particular emphasis with a short shout or happy hoot or hand gesture or whatever. Happens all the time, I know, and most people probably just chalk it up to supporting a colleague at work. But of course there’s more to it than that. For one thing, when a more famous or well-known or beloved singer like Payne - whom audiences respect and implicitly trust to know what good music is - gets behind a singer like Young in this way, it shapes the audience’s response to the performance, particularly when the performance isn’t going as well as it might. Back in the day when I was hacking my way through songs at the keyboard for a regional quartet, our front man would often take to carrying on a la Payne in this clip precisely when solos were going downhill or starting to fall flat. Is there a shorthand name for this that anyone knows of?Email this Post