Friday, December 19, 2014

The Shangri-Las - "Out in the Streets" (1965)

The wordless chant at the beginning, in G# minor while the song proper is in D major. An objet d'art.

Jeff Barry and Ellie Greenwich concocted this one. The other ladies start the verse out, but it's an uneven six bars. Part two is lead singer Mary Weiss and it goes a full eight bars like a self-sustaining unit, including a refrain line at the end. Deceptive use of a secondary dominant chord back to the tonic.

Beautiful stuff, but the bridge is what makes this a little symphony for the kids. In the verse (or refrain line at the end), Weiss only makes it once as high as B natural, cutting through so sharply: "His heart is out in the stree-eets." Movement higher is delayed once by the second verse; they have to ascend this once more.

Then, the drum roll. And the strings sweep into the key of F major as Weiss hits C natural.

HE grew up on the sidewalk
STREET-light shining above
HE grew up with no one to love

HE grew up on the sidewalk
HE grew up runnin' free
HE grew up and then he met me

Monday, December 15, 2014

Angels and Airwaves - "Tunnels" (2014)

This song is really rooted on the tonic note. First verse eight bars, second verse is six interrupted by an extension. I guess you could call it a bridge. The melody starts on the third there, but quickly deflates down to that tonic.

More verses afterward, but now he's singing it an octave higher. And so it builds, slightly more involved melodies, running through that extension once again. Eight lines ending with the beautiful symmetry of those six-syllable lines that come at the end and then...POW!

The chorus! There, at 2:14, no longer anchored by the root. They've earned that higher plateau on the third scale degree now. Not eight bars and they're done; there's more to say. 16 bars, 44 seconds, and that beautiful, surprising internal rhyme at the end.

Repeat because they've earned that, too.