Franklin Bruno-"Blue's the Only Color"
It's when I hear songs like "Blue's the Only Color" that I realize that I too often give praise too easily-that I'm all too happy to deem a song "perfect" or a "real work of art" that isn't quite either. It's for songs like this one that I must be careful not to praise others too highly because I then risk spending my best words before finding the music they deserve to be spent upon.
Unfortunately, that's the sitch I find myself in right now. So I'll give you the mp3 and some background, with a little bit of rhetorical flourish thrown in willy-nilly, and let you feel it for yourself.
Bruno has recorded for several different labels, under several different monikers. A Cat May Look at a Queen, an offering of songs from 2002, written and performed under his own name, is perhaps the best modern equivalent to Cole Porter's snarky sad songs that I've encountered since listening to, well, Cole Porter for most of last summer. All of the songs on A Cat May Look at a Queen are somewhat quirky, but without being funny,necessarily. Bruno has the ability to be playful about serious situations without mocking them, giving us songs that please our artistic sensibilities but pain us emotionally, because he's giving us new ways to revive the sublimated pain we've accrued through our wanderings upon this sometimes pleasant and sometimes mortifyingly painful planet.
In addition to the various musical ventures described above, Bruno has written music and toured with The Mountain Goats' John Darnielle who, during one Mountain Goats show, called Bruno "one of the greatest songwriters of the twentieth century." Bruno has taught philosophy and writes criticism for various mags and for his blog, Nervous Unto Thirst, and he has a new band, The Human Hearts, who have just released an album on Tight Ship Records, but yada yada, you can get all of this from the Wikipedia page (linked above).
"Blue's the Only Color" is really quite a perfect song. The central trope never falters, never extends too far-Bruno achieves perfect balance lyrically. The melody syncs wonderfully with the words. Bruno's slows and stops and starts are faultless. A Cat May Look at a Queen is so fantastic that it would be terribly difficult to choose one song to post if "Blue's the Only Color" wasn't singularly incomparable in beauty and sadness.