Feigned nonchalance

There’s a thread going on in Amazon’s discussion area which seeks to identify the “most compelling line in a song,” though as a practical matter, it usually takes two lines, maybe more, to complete the thought.

I briefly entertained the idea of contributing “Kickin’ in the front seat, sittin’ in the back seat / Gotta make my mind up, which seat can I take?” Pithy as it is, though, it’s not all that compelling, and after thinking about it for a few minutes — and spinning a few tunes to gauge emotional response — I decided on this old favorite, first quoted here back in ’03, which still packs a wallop:

I close my eyes for a second and pretend it’s me you want
Meanwhile I try to act so nonchalant
I see a summer night with a magic moon
Every time that you walk in the room

Jackie DeShannon came up with this in late 1963, and it’s been regularly expropriated ever since: the Searchers got a British Invasion hit, and Bruce Springsteen often plays it live. Still, this is a song that practically demands a female vocal — guys seldom admit to this level of yearning — so I’ll direct you to the 1994 Pam Tillis version, which is a country song mostly because the marketing people said it was.

(Discovered at Pop Culture Junk Mail.)



  1. McGehee »

    20 August 2011 · 9:01 am

    1994? Damn, I thought Pam’s cover was older than that.

  2. Baby M »

    21 August 2011 · 1:18 pm

    “She comes out of the sun in a silk dress running like a watercolour in the rain”

    Best line ever.

  3. CGHill »

    21 August 2011 · 1:51 pm

    This was Al Stewart’s strength: he set the scene with enough detail for your imagination to go to work, but not so much that you’d have nothing to do. Our best storytellers know this.

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