And now, for something mushy. In a totally non-disappointing way of course.
Remember Vanessa Carlton? Well if you don’t, she’s just about to grace our Throwback Tuesday post of the day so you might as well just bow down and read on.
The year was 2002, when a mighty 22-year-old US-based songwriter and vocal-powerhouse Vanessa Carlton unleashed her phenomenal début album ‘Be Not Nobody‘, a heady mix of Pop-Rock with a rather gloomy undertone, on a world infested with boy-bands and teen-pop princesses, who were thankfully on the verge of a much-needed extinction. The ridiculously unbearable amounts of mush-pop unleashed by the Backstreet Boys and N’Sync was gradually slowing down, Britney was growing up at a rather alarming rate, and Christina Aguilera literally ‘stripped’ at the drop of a hat while promoting her sophomore extravaganza (which to this day remains one of my fave albums of all time). 2002 was all about real music making a comeback, with the irresponsibly amazing Norah Jones dominating every credible chart with her Diamond-certified début smash ‘Come Away With Me‘. And while the world concentrated on Norah Jones, a shy and multi-talented Vanessa Carlton slowly made her way up the charts with her début single, ‘A Thousand Miles‘, which eventually became one of the biggest hits of the year, bigger than any single released from Norah’s ‘Come Away With Me‘.
‘A Thousand Miles‘ is the perfect example of a love song that does not rely on an overdose of mush to sound genuine. The first thing that strikes you about this song is the jubilant piano riff – which is undeniably the backbone of the song. The piano is Vanessa’s primary instrument here, her earthy vocals come next. Comparisons with the incredible Tori Amos are inevitable, although I feel there’s nothing remotely similar to both these vocalists apart from the fact that they both play the piano. Tori’s style is entirely different from what Vanessa offers on her début album, and although dark undertones are the hallmark of both Tori’s Double Platinum certified 1992 début album ‘Little Earthquakes‘ as well as Vanessa’s ‘Be Not Nobody‘, both vocalists shine through with their distinct individual sounds. Vocally, Vanessa sounds vulnerable, emotional, earnest and real – and although she never really soars and sounds restrained in most parts of the song, a sense of urgency and determination marks the song as she yearns to be with her lover, rendering an overall dreamy flow to the song. The Marc Klasfeld directed video for the song shows a no-frills Vanessa playing the piano and singing away on the top of a truck, certainly adding to the earthy charm of the song. Check it out right here :
‘A Thousand Miles‘ peaked at # 5 on the Billboard Hot 100 and spent a whopping 41 weeks on the chart (the 6th biggest hit of 2002 in the US), at # 1 in Australia, and peaked within the top 10 in Europe and Asia – eventually being nominated for 3 Grammy’s including the prestigious Record and Song Of The Year categories, but losing them all to Norah Jones’ unbeatable ‘Come Away With Me‘. Based on the popularity of the single, Vanessa’s début album ‘Be Not Nobody‘ entered the Billboard 200 Albums Chart at # 5, selling 102,000 units in its first week – eventually being certified Platinum for sales over 1.38 million units in the US alone. Till date, the album has sold over 3 million units worldwide.
‘A Thousand Miles‘ is one of those songs that I play when I’m generally happy. The song’s simple and catchy, yet with a surreal feel to it, and it’s the kinda song you listen to when you have a special someone on your mind, and you spend a considerable amount of time thinking about that particular person. The insanely catchy and grand chorus with its multi-layered instrumentation is my fave part of the song – I love how it celebrates that funny feeling you get when you crave for someone. Truly a refreshing classic that sounds as amazing today as it did a decade ago!