(Cross the) Heartland: Pat Metheny, “As Falls Wichita, So Falls Wichita Falls” (1981)

I don’t know about the rest of the Pat Metheny fan base, but I was pretty much unprepared for what As Falls Wichita, So Falls Wichita Falls had to offer. Over twenty minutes of musical narrative that sounded like no other recording in my early record collection. It wasn’t quite jazz, though it also wasn’t unstructured enough to be a film score.

Even way back then, I thought of this opening side as a kind of journey, though not necessarily a physical one. A person might be thinking of a particular time in their life: things they’d done and places visited. And while that story tumbled out, so did the music. There are musical climaxes that carry a great deal of emotion, adding to the pensive feel.

My favorite part of the composition comes about a third of the way in, when a drum machine pattern is set against a talking drum. I don’t know if it was intended, but that’s always sounded like a conversation to me…and not exactly a relaxed one either.

Toward the end, as Lyle Mays’ synth washes rise and rise, I see everything dissolving to bright white. Does the journey have a happy ending? I have no idea.

Up next: Ozark

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Mark Saleski

Mark Saleski is a writer and music obsessive based out of the woods of central New Hampshire. A past contributor to Jazz.com, Blogcritics.org and Salon, he writes several weekly features including the Friday Morning Listen, (Cross the) Heartland, WTF! Wednesday, and Sparks Fly on E Street. Follow him on Twitter: @msaleski. Contact Something Else! at reviews@somethingelsereviews.com.