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Time and Tide – Basia (1988)

Basia - Time and Tide“Time and Tide” is a song that epitomizes everything I love about music. Polish singer Basia Trzetrzelewska is best known for her upbeat, jazz-pop songs that sound right at home on a cruise ship, but her first hit in the United States was the charming “Time and Tide,” a slower, dreamy standard that always leaves me smiling.

The song begins with standard jazz fare, as Basia’s voice finds a beautiful melody over some complicated chord changes. Backup singers join her on the second verse, singing in harmony, and then the chorus takes a sharp turn: an almost-New Wave sound, simpler, with Basia singing to a piano in simple intervals. First she sings the root, then up a third, then back to the root, and then a fourth, then the root again, and up all the way to a fifth as she tells us, “We’ve got time, oh baby, there’s no rush / Gonna be a better day for us / Hang on, and I will wait for you”

You have to know something about chord progressions to truly appreciate this song. Basia throws everything but the kitchen sink in there — no simple I – IV – V progressions in sight — but it all makes sense. The bridge features a key change and a piano instrumental, laced with those beautiful harmonies again. Then there’s another key change, but it’s hardly noticeable since she’s been changing chords every half measure.

The song grows only slightly in intensity, but again, you hardly notice it until the key change, and then as the chorus repeats itself, it settles back down, going through the chorus and ending on that perfect fifth interval.

I guess it’s not cool to like this one-hit wonder — how many Basia fans do you find nowadays? — but I still marvel at the complexity and beauty of this song. I usually like my songs simple, but this is one exception.

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Peter Lee

6 Comments

  1. SIR!!! We are “OUT HERE” – check out members.tripod.com/~Basiafan/, http://www.basiaweb.com and most importantly http://www.basiasongs.com. We are awaiting the release of her latest album – probably first quarter 2009.

    As for the song you picked, my absolute favorite – I remember clearly the day I heard it for the first time back in 1988: was driving in town, been dealing with being laid off when I heard her voice – I was entranced. I tried to figure out who she was (“Basie?”) so I drove to the local jazz station and asked them. They told me Basia, and I IMMEDIATELY drove to the local music store and bought the CD – been hooked since then.

    At the time, she was NOT a one-hit wonder – her songs did well on Billboard over here and excellently abroad – she was featured on all the major talk shows of the day: Letterman, Carson, Arsenio (who loved her stuff!). Her vids didn’t get any airtime since MTV was into rap and VH1 hadn’t even been born yet.

    Now we are awaiting the album and the tour!!! I saw her live for the first time in 2005 on the Matt Bianco Reunion tour, San Antonio, TX and it was BLISS!!!

  2. I think your first attempt got caught in the Spam filter because it had too many links. The second one came through okay. Thanks for dropping by – glad to know she still has a loyal fan base!

  3. Oh, I love the Time And Tide album. Promises is my favourite from that. I had her in my Top 10 albums of 1988 a couple of months ago. Her album as a member of Mar Bianco was pretty good too.

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