What makes a song really touch you? It might be rhythm, chord use, your favorite instrument, lyrics, that dazzling singer, it can be anything. Does the song energize you, does it help you falling asleep, does it support you in times of joy or sadness.
A song – to me – that ticks most of these boxes: Worn Down Piano – Mark & Clark Band.
Written in 1977, a mix of Disco, Rock, Classical music and a balad, a hit in far too few countries if you ask me. Bombastic, dramatic but especially steaming with energy. 8 minutes and 10 seconds about an old piano (“still a bit out of tune“), that naturally catches my attention. It is full of tempo changes and timbres. The lyrics are sometimes funny, sometimes raw with an occasional touch of mystery. If this song is played on the radio in my home country, it means you’re very close to the turn of the year, so the association with it is always good, fun, free.
As a street piano player I have some considerations too, for numerous reasons. Numero Uno: it’s way too difficult for me to play ;-)! Of course, these are 2 dueling pianos that you hear (surrounded by a wall of sound), so good luck to you if you want to give it a go. Chances are slim you’re going to find 2 well-tuned pianos on the street, then 2 pianists to know the song and being able play it together. The song being so difficult to reproduce, feeds my admiration, my fascination for it. In short, I have never heard this song – anywhere in the world – played in the streets and I will personally change this blog if that ever changes.
When it comes to the lyrics: How often did I play the streets and felt like “the man in the torn coat“. We both prefer not to speak a word while expressing our love for the instrument through our fingers. None of the bystanders knows who we are or vice versa. Eventually we disappear from the scene and – once our sounds have died away – the piano stays behind, waiting for the next player to sit down.
The main reason for this blog however: Street pianos often come in pairs with other art forms (painted, sculpted etc.) and invite you to add another one to it (a sing-along, a duet, dancers etc.). Exactly that happened to Worn Down. The song triggered illustrator Mr. Hans Gravekamp to make this cartoon with full lyrics, so on my behalf a salute to this song as well as the cartoonist.
Stay safe, enjoy playing!
Worn Down on YouTube
Worn Down on Genius-Lyrics
Worn Down on WIKI
Worn Down as Cartoon