Wednesday, July 31, 2013

John Cale - "Macbeth" (1973)

I'll leave the guitar solo out for clarity's sake and diagram this song otherwise as AABCABC.

The A sections are verses and they're short - only four lines each. At first, you get two of them and then the B section, but it's not clear what the B section is. (This is the part that starts off with "And you know it's true/You never saw things quite that way.") It's certainly reasonable to call this section a bridge, but it's odd to get a bridge before you get to the chorus. The other alternative is to say that it's a chorus.

The C section ("Somebody knows for sure/It's got to be me or it's got to be you" etc.) is similarly ambiguous, catchy enough to be a chorus but didn't we just have one?

Given that both sections repeat after the third verse, I'm saying this song has two choruses.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Smokey Robinson and the Miracles - "I Second That Emotion" (1967)

The second part of the chorus of this song looks like this:

 photo a1f3bec0-8ac4-447b-a958-1b0b49fa08ee.jpg 
The first time it goes to the G major chord in measure two, there are two upper neighbor notes (F# and E) descending until it finally gets to the chordal tone.

The second time through the four-bar phrase, there is a melodic sequence sung at a higher pitch. On the A chord this time, G is sung as a blue note (a repeated minor seventh of the chord).

This quality is then echoed when the chord switches to G. Once again, there is an upper neighbor (A), but when it descends to F, it's sung as F natural.

Friday, July 5, 2013

The Clash - "Train in Vain" (1979)

I wrote all of the lyrics to this down just so I could compare the verses. I honestly didn't know if they were all the same, but they are - twelve bars with the same chord progression each time.

There are a lot of words! Forty-four in the first verse, forty-four in the second, and a whopping forty-nine in the third and last. It's the contrasts in melodic contour with different syllable counts in particular spots of the verse that are so effective in this song. How many of them are real bigtime hooks?

"You say you stand/By your man."
"You said you loved me/That's a fact/Then you left me/Said you felt trapped."
"The heartaches hurt me 'til this da-a-ay."
"I've seen all my dreams come tumbling down."
"So, alone I keep the wo-olves at bay."
"Now I got a job/But it don't pay."

And the last couple of lines might be the sweetest, this time rhyming where they didn't rhyme before (with the two lines that precede them, making four rhyming lines in a row):

"But you don't understand my point of view/I suppose there's nothing I can do."