Minnie Riperton: Can You Feel What I’m Saying?


Sex is in the mind; it is the product of a thousand memories and fleeting glimpses of desire which, in their eventual entirety, push us over the edge of reason and into moments of respite from the humdrum of everyday life. It is musical inflection according to time and place, a mutual rhythm, an art form, made new, no movement the same twice. The dirtiest thoughts become viable actions; the revolt reflex is unwound and whipped across your skin like leather. Nothing else matters but the unrolling of the senses, the taste of vapid weeping fluids and the touch of another’s fingertips. Sometimes a kiss, a mere touch, a look, can be as erotic as the most complicated orchestrations made and felt, lips touching another and you suddenly know there’s more than mere attraction.

Your mind travels with the moment and the way another can make you feel, just with the look in their eyes. Their response makes you smile suddenly to yourself on a crowded train, awake in the night longing for completion. A street corner after midnight in Soho becomes a bayou deep down south, the scent of magnolia drifts over me and as I close my eyes I hear this voice singing to me as a kiss once floated to the very centre of me.

Minnie Riperton is one of the few singers I can think of who can not only speak at the top of her five-octave range, but who can pull on my heart strings, her dreamy fugues bringing satisfaction inside me. Her music has always been associated with some of the happiest instances of my life. My sweetest passions glowing in memory, kisses that have changed me, men whose names still linger and being a child, noticing the particular golden gloom peculiar to a summer twilight in the English countryside, church bells ringing in the distance, birdsong. For me, Minnie’s voice is all these things and more, a hope that innocence is not yet completely lost, that somehow in this angry, violent life there is sweet repose in a voice, a touch, a look.

I have found there is. From that street corner in Soho one night came beauty many months later. That treasured kiss turned from memory into reality once more, then to other arts of euphoria, a cut on the sweeter side of my life. Sometimes you just fit right with someone, their body twists with yours in harmony and his loving left me feeling happy and sated, not tormented. If my previous lover had rocked my world into complication, intrigue and hidden agendas, this man made me feel as though the pain had lifted. No dark and tortured secrets, no lies, just the want. For I had wanted him the first time I saw him, and, reciprocated, we found our way to each other at last. Looking at him, I was not in control, the magic from that kiss was still there as it became more, much more. He arrived, much wanted, a good feeling, so this song is his, can you feel what I’m saying?

Yes I could, for as he pulled me towards him and kissed me once again, I was no sainted girl with a lost love to remember; I didn’t want to resist him nor recall the past. No girl with virtuous thoughts and a sweet vanilla flavour. I’m darker than that, a volatile, passionate mixture of dark island blood and golden syrup, wild honey, the mind bending passion of the heat. I am a child of Voodoo and Santeria, born during a summer electrical storm. My golden skin wrapped around him like a living canvas, temptation, elation and the slip and slide of true lovemaking, his eyes as bewitching as his movements, he covered me with pleasure.

He became the words in this song, long treasured; his rhythms were mine, I was his, gently he chased away the sadness. My axis turned that night and his sweet presence in my life paints my skin with the most sensual and passionate of colours, the top of the fifth octave in Minnie’s music, magical dreams and midnight summer air, the smell of his skin, the beauty I see and feel in him, his kisses.

Now they’re yours, now they’re mine. Can you feel what I’m saying baby?

Oh yes.



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