Sally Seltmann: A Grownup's Song Of Longing

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In "Harmony to My Heartbeat," Sally Seltmann takes familiar parts and transforms them into something new. Cybele Malinowski hide caption

itoggle caption Cybele Malinowski
Sally Seltmann

In "Harmony to My Heartbeat," Sally Seltmann takes familiar parts and transforms them into something new.

Cybele Malinowski

Thursday's Pick

  • Song: "Harmony to My Heartbeat"
  • Artist: Sally Seltmann
  • CD: Heart That's Pounding
  • Genre: Pop

At first glance, there are a lot of familiar echoes in Sally Seltmann's "Harmony to My Heartbeat." The drumbeat and pop-orchestral grandeur comes from the Phil Spector playbook. The structure of the verse lyric bears more than a passing resemblance to Oasis' "Morning Glory." The crucial line at the start of the chorus is drawn straight from Tommy James' "I Think We're Alone Now."

But all music, or at least all pop music, is created from the same components, and unless there's a revolution coming sometime soon, there aren't going to be any notes that we haven't heard before. The former singer of New Buffalo, Seltmann does what all good musicians do: namely, take those familiar parts and transform them into something new.

What's most novel about "Harmony to My Heartbeat," as least compared to the sources that seemed to inspire it, is its shift to a grownup perspective. The Spector quote is used to convey adult, not teenage, longing. And, unlike Tommy James, Seltmann isn't running out of a desire for escape, nor is she fumbling blindly toward the unknown. Instead, she sees her destination clearly, and she runs only because she can't think of any reason to wait any longer. It's a crucial distinction, suggesting that Seltmann knows what she wants, knows that it's within her reach, and is glowing with contentment that she's made it at last.

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Sally Seltmann
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