Sunday, May 27, 2018

Alone Again, Naturally: Overthinking The Dandy Warhols 'Good Morning'!

"Unwritten rule of rock: Dude with the Clash shirt gets to be in front"
Despite having been gifted a promo of their debut while I was living in Colorado a couple years earlier and deeming it "too goofy" to even give it a listen (admittedly, I have yet to hear the record to this day), moving my shit to L.A. a week or so earlier must have lightened my demeanor enough that I found myself listening to their second album The Dandy Warhols Come Down at my trusty Tower Records one afternoon and being pleasantly surprised.

Sure, it took them a minute of distortion wankery to get to the actual song sometimes, but when they got there, they got there.

And here is where it gets weird for anyone who has ever tried to "just listen to music" around a songwriter/musician/asshole like me:

Normal conversation:
Girlfriend: "Good Morning" has a cool hook.

Me: I know, right? Gosh I love you.

Conversation with songwriter/musician asshole:

Girlfriend: I know you're going to make some big deal about it, but I really like "Good Morning".

Me: Why do you have to even set it up like that? Now if I say anything I'm automatically an asshole...

BUT since you brought it up; this is actually the tune that got me into the band.

"Unwritten rule of rock #2: Zia always has the best t-shirt."
If you'll notice, its basically the same lick all the way through the song, but the art of it is how they just keep building the sonic bed in sly little ways without you even realizing it, otherwise you'd get sick of hearing one riff for four minutes.

What's another song that you can think of that has just one riff going throughout the whole song non-stop?

Girlfriend: Hmm, I never thought about it. Oh, I know: "We Will Rock You"!

Me: Yes, awesome choice.

How did they take a dead simple drum beat and turn it into a riff that is now recognized around the world? They kept adding things, taking things away, creating an ebb and flow that we the listener don't even realize is happening.

Truth be told, nobody remembers what Freddie was singing other than the chorus because he's just another instrument meant to distract your ear just enough so that when they strip it all back down to just the riff, it will sound fresh again without having ever gone anywhere. In fact, by the time it arrives, our ear is aching to hear it again...just the fucking beat.

Could they have just given us four minutes of the beat and we'd have been just as happy?

Girlfriend: No fucking way.

Me: And therein lies the genius of Courtney Taylor-Taylor, who showed Beatles-loving guys like me who'd been wasting our time coming up with actual arrangements: three full sets of verses, a chorus that is a melodic counter punch to the verse, and then a nice bridge to take the listener to a third place.

What the fuck had I been thinking?

I could have just hammered that opening riff for all it was worth and kept bringing in textural things to keep the ear entertained. I mean, they're only gonna use 30 seconds in the British Airways commercial, right? And here I was cramming what Taylor probably considered to be an entire album's worth of ideas into just one or two songs and overwhelming folks.


Girlfriend: (snoring)

1 comment:

  1. Hmm. Interesting observations. I do wish I'd had the time/opportunity in my life to learn and geek out over music composition. Two quick observations:

    Good Morning is the favorite DW song for a lot of people (including at least half of the Dandys.)

    More interestingly: Doesn't Pachelbel's Canon in D (i.e. probably the most popular and most considered-beautiful classical song of all time) use this EXACT same technique?

    I think you've stumbled onto something pretty deep here.

    "It's funny because it's true."