When I was a little boy growing up and seeing how adults behaved and could do more things than children – apparently – I was eager to become a grown-up. Little did I realise that what actually happens is that in as much as you can do things that children cannot, you have more responsibilities than children and the carefree appeal of childhood can often be one to pander after come adulthood.
A word closely related to being an adulthood especially in comparison is the concept of ‘angst’. Children don’t seem to get angst – it’s something you related to going through a lot in life – the bumps and bruises that come with the package of getting to know yourself and those around you.
It’s not easy to convey that aspect of adulthood and how it’s different than childhood without coming across fairly depressing in the process. So Bill Withers’ achievement in recording and then presenting the world with the song ‘Hello Like Before’ is something to be lauded and acclaimed. Don’t listen to the lyrics at all on first listening, just get a feel for the song. Feel the hope rise and sigh and rise and sigh and settle with that hope still there, but unable to quite grasp it fully. Check how chilled out the feel of the tune is and how laid back even the vocals come across even when they soar near the end. That laid back feeling though is more out of resignation than a genuine agreed contentment with the world.
Then get into the lyrics and imagine the conversation. Imagine what kind of stuff has been built up over the years leading to that conversation and the emotions and baggage that can only be hinted at in the exchanges. You don’t get that sense of angst when you’re in the innocence of childhood. That angst doesn’t hit until you’ve had those hard experiences even starting from those teenage years when the innocence is replaced by those weird feelings of rejection or misunderstanding.
This is not meant to be a depressing episode of AF, it is a celebration of a how a chill-out tune can still tug at the heart strings and get the old memories flicking back to how things used to be. Bill’s original obviously sets the standard high, but there can be no denying that Cathy Rocco’s version makes those same points from a whole other angle that still leaves you admiring and wondering. Brilliant rendition of great song. Truly refreshing take on this piece and maintaining that laid back sense, but more pointed and vivid in vocal realisation. Good job done by all concerned.
Thus whether or not you’ve ever experienced angst, it is still worth your while tasting it and seeing how truly bittersweet it can be, but how it makes life and relationships all the more valuable. Enjoy.