Talking movies, music and other close encounters of the social media kind.
In 1983 (or maybe it was 1984) my older brother Tom bought the 12 inch vinyl copy of Grace Jones extended mix ‘The Apple Stretching’.
The album was meant to played at 45 rpm but he mistakenly played it at 33rpm on the record player.
For two years.
So, for two years the siblings thought Grace Jones was a black male, singing with a very, very low baritone voice and the music itself had an extremely slow tempo.
Then in 1985 (or was it 1986) Tom bought the Grace Jones album ‘Living My Life’ and the song The Apple Stretching on that album suddenly sounded much better. The tempo was quicker.
And Grace Jones sounded, well…normal.
When I first heard it I thought; “Man, that new Apple Stretching mix on that album sounds great – it’s so much better than the original! ”
Tom thought it sounded better as well.
So much so, he then realised what he’d done.
He got the original 12 inch vinyl he’d bought two years ago and then played it to speed of 45 rpm.
It sounded exactly like the new album he’d just bought.
I couldn’t stop laughing. He started laughing as well.
The song had always sounded like that – we’d just been hearing The Apple Stretching at the wrong speed.
For two years.
Since then, it’s been a running joke with the siblings.
Every time I listen to this Grace Jones classic (which is her love letter to the city of New York),
I think about that time.
Written by Melvin Van Pebbles – The Apple Stretching is, according to writer Paul Flynn – one of the best lyrical songs about New York. From describing the Statue of Liberty as a ‘Lady Waiting in the Narrows’ being kissed by the sun that comes swaggering across the high wind to Luigi the accident prone rubbish man who ‘don’t speak English so good‘ it gives a vivid picture of one morning in New York city a.k.a ‘The Big Apple’.
When these lyrics are sung by Grace Jones’ strong seductive voice, coupled with a funky but sophisticated bassline groove (courtesy of expert Reggae rhythm section merchants Sly & Robbie) it gives this song a unique fusion of Jamaican cool and New York chic that’s sonically hypnotic.
And so today (which is 9 years when my brother Tom passed away) I will be listening to The Apple Stretching (at the right speed of course), downing a cold beer and having a bit of a laugh.
No it ain’t Judgement Day.
No it ain’t Armageddon.
It’s just the apple stretching and yawning,
Putting it’s feet on the floor.