Al Stewart – A Small Fruit Song

A minor key, some hesitation, melancholy, perhaps expectation. We are different. No matter how smooth the arpeggios, how we fit together like bursts of bluesy scale runs with strummed chords, there is always something we might not understand about each other. It makes us vulnerable.

But difference is also a source of excitement. I don’t always understand you, but that means there is always more to explore, as long as we don’t take each other for granted. We can talk about our fears and desires, but there is something ineffable. The truth is that we’re hardly aware of our own motivations, sometimes realizing years later that what we thought was rational was just feelings which had been rationalized through some strange logic. So we shouldn’t take each other for granted either.

To be kissed to the core, the warm flow of feelings, bodies close, minds closer. Perhaps it’s a dream of something hardly possible: to be known like no-one else has known us, at our most bare essence. Does such an essence even exist? Perhaps if I surrender I could find it with you. Then what? Maybe the consequences don’t matter, because it’s a dream that can never be perfected, an ideal toward which we can strive together, trying to open up to each other. We may skirt around it for an eternity.

The core, the essence, the soul, it may just be a fabrication of the flow of ever-changing thoughts. When I want to open up, what is it that I am revealing? Is it just emptiness trying to take some tangible form for a moment only to fade away when the attention goes away? Whatever it may be, it is a very basic desire, perhaps a need, to strive for: affection for something we may not even know well ourselves. Whatever I am, I desire acceptance, and wish you to be the one I let close like no other orange.

The lyrics are simple like a nursery rhyme, but that is why apples and oranges can be taken to some pretty far-off interpretations about difference. “Orange” is the woman who was the subject of many of Stewart’s early songs. The relationship didn’t end well, so hearing the minor chords here, and the use of past tense, seems like an anticipation of the stormy end. But that’s just hindsight.

A note on the music: Stewart is not always considered a part of the late 60s folk revival scene, but the influences are clearly there. Here the fingerpicking style is reminiscent of Bert Jansch. Stewart’s songs had a more pop-oriented approach later, but in the early songs the influence of Dylan and Fairport Convention can still be heard.