Chariot Tracks (Something Old, Something Older) is Frank Arricale's third album. Presented as "a time capsule," it works as a concept album on multiple levels. A compilation of songs written in previous decades, the most recent is from 1992, while the oldest is from 1975. By current standards, of course, these songs are not merely old-fashioned, they're positively ancient, having been written a lifetime ago. But, as the album art reminds us, a lifetime is an absurdly short amount of time; and, while these songs may reasonably be seen as little more than artifacts of a time gone by, they may also be seen as something more than that. On a more ironic level, Chariot Tracks is presented as a kind of greatest hits package. "Kind of" insofar as, not only weren't these songs ever hits-until now, they've never even been released. Of course, if human beings ever stumble upon this time capsule five hundred-or five thousand-years from now, it's doubtful that they'll be overly concerned with how many of the tracks actually cracked the Top 40. And on yet another level, Chariot Tracks can be taken as an account of one man's lifetime, told out of chronological order. Through this lens, the matter of the passage of time is central; each song is ostensibly a slice of the same life at different times; and the interconnectedness of the songs-already thematically and structurally related-leads to additional depth of meaning. "The Dance of Life," for example, can be heard as the middle-aged voice of the same person who sings "Love Song" in his youth; "Lullaby" is sung by the same father who sings "Rita May" on his deathbed; and so on. Whether or not the listener chooses to listen to the album within such a framework is a matter of choice. Either way, the album consists of songs about longing and despair, loneliness and sorrow, with some much-needed humor sprinkled throughout; but, whatever place the passage of time has in the mix, it all starts and ends with love. Although, as on his previous two efforts, he performs all the vocal and instrumental parts of his meticulously detailed arrangements, Frank Arricale considers himself to be, first and foremost, a writer. As such, the songs on Chariot Tracks often convey his affection for-and indebtedness to-John Lennon and Paul McCartney above all others. Also apparent are the influences of other brilliant songwriters, Kate Bush and Randy Newman among them. But, in the final analysis, his unique blend of heart and intelligence, of sentiment and irony, is his own. Some comments from Frank Arricale on each of the tracks: "Love Song": Simplicity itself. Wasn't this song on McCartney? Or maybe it was Wings at the Speed of Syrup. The first of two songs on the album written when I was 19 for my girlfriend Linda. We've been married 33 years now, and she's still my girl girl girl. "Seven Years in Japan": We've been married 33 years, and she still hates this song. I love it. It's simultaneously funny, painful, and touching. A song of isolation and yearning, about (among other things) being on both the dispensing and receiving ends of prejudice. "Girl Girl Girl": I'm convinced this could be a number one single if we ever run into 1965 again. "Rita May": Subtitle: "As I Lie Dying". This recording isn't as moody or weird as it could have been. But it is appropriately morose. "Tomorrow": More of a prayer than a pop song. It's all right. "The Planets": See "Rita May". I have no idea how I came up with this one. In my mind, it's a Kate Bush song. "As I Love You": One of the typical melancholy love songs for which I'm so widely unknown. It embodies a kind of romanticism that I associate with an earlier era (earlier even than my own). To me, it's as reminiscent of Harold Arlen and Irving Berlin as it is of Lennon and McCartney. Fred could have sung this to Ginger in 1936. "She Do It": Just a straightforward rock 'n' roll record. Nothing serious. An obvious nod to John at the end. "The Kiss": A song of betrayal and guilt. Apparently, I can't stay upbeat for very long. "The Dance of Life": I really like this one. It has a dramatic, cinematic quality to it. When I hear it, I'm convinced the guy who wrote it is literally describing scenes from his life. He really isn't. And yet there's definitely something genuine, something autobiographical, about it. I wonder what it is. "Home Again": This could be my theme song. A song of loneliness and longing, made even more poignant here by the awareness, already established with track 2, that you can't go home again. "Lullaby": The other song written for Linda when I was 19, it's also a lovely song for parents to sing to their children at bedtime. A goodnight song for loved ones everywhere.
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