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Side By Side - Kay Starr

This is yet another number from Capital's Great Hits of 1952, which like Mary Ford on yesterday's track, uses the new technology of double tracking. Interestingly, it was written by Harry Woods, who also wrote the fabulous "Try a Little Tenderness".

It starts with the jaunty brass section and Kay Starr's mellow vocal, double tracked to create another Andrews Sisters mode harmony from the second line onwards.

Very pleasant, but..... I sense you thinking. But wait, savour the jazzy surges of the Glenn Miller style brass section, then there's the pretty soulful singing of Kay on the middle eight from:

See that sun in the morning

peaking over the hill

but, at 1 minute 36 seconds TURN IT UP as it really takes off as Kay duets with herself, even descants against the main melody with herself, the moment where, as Kay 1 sings

"we ain't got a barrel of money"

Kay 2 intones

"ooooh, we ain't got money"

and the band really hots up, even the piano starts adding funky little frills, as the second Kay follows the melody along harmonising with her alter ego.

It goes up yet another notch with the "through all kinds of weather" bit with it's relayed

"it really doesn't matter, doesn't matter at all", as the vocal interplay between Kay and herself just gets better and better, right to the climactic end.

Of course the subliminal gag is that Kay is split into the two vocals, the two people who travel "side by side" happily through life together while others

all have "had their troubles and parted"

they'll "be the same as (they) started"

so you could say that this is a song about schizophrenia, but as child I had a vision of two women skipping away happily arm in arm. The song is a paen to a friendship between two women. But it's more than that. It's a love song that says we don't care what the world throws at us, we going ahead with it anyway and no-one's gonna stop us. So while the double tracking could be said to be all about emphasis, even in those dark lesbophobic days, surely people noticed what it was really emphasising.

"-well that's how I feel about someone

and somebody feels about me

we're sure in love with each other

and that's the way it's gonna be"

And while the production of the song is almost Shakespearian as an example of extended metaphor, the music itself is as uplifting as their indomitable friendship.

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