It’s easy to tell a song he’s produced.
Just as Spector had his Wall Of Sound,
Martin his prim parlor notes,
there is always a tell that Mutt is at the controls.

First, there is a hook.
Then, there is another.
Then, another. Yet again.
Still one more.

Then the lyrics will begin.
They’ll never be too specific—
specific doesn’t pay.
But they will be raw with longing,
rife with meanings doubled and tripled back on themselves
like pink taffy being yanked through the machine,
glossy, fat, and ocean-salty.

Instrumental solos will be brief,
and the modulation will hit you like a tire iron. There’s no time to catch your breath:
you’re back there on the soccer field,
smelling mown, wet grass on prom night,
looking at the glowing lights of the gym.

You’re alone,
and in love,
and tender all over with the aliveness of both.

The night is soft,
and the music says it’s happy, happy, happy,
but there’s an undercurrent of sadness there,
and it yanks you away like a riptide.


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