Wednesday, April 7, 2010

I've Heard That Song Before

Reading Ian MacDonald's "Revolution In The Head" is not for the faint of heart. A dense, occasionally interesting, and mildly annoying chronicle of The Beatles in the studio, RITH recounts chronologically, every song the Mop Tops recorded and its context in 60's culture....sort of.

I'm guessing the title of the book comes from how you feel while trying to piece together the footnotes, which take up more space than the specific song information on each page. Still, with some patience and a bottle of Advil, you will glean some worthwhile information, especially if you're a Beatles fanatic.


John Lennon attempted to write a song in the style of Smokey Robinson, and used "What's So Good About Goodbye" as the launching pad for "Ask Me Why."

I didn't know that. I don't think I had ever even heard the Smokey tune.

Well, here are both. Listen and compare.




Fielding Melish said...

hmm, pretty interesting.

the word verification of the day:

Anonymous said...

Interesting post today Sal, it seems i learn something every day from coming on here, thanks for the wealth of knowledge.

Nick Barracato

ps any chance of doing a day dedicated to Elton John once a week ala Todd mondays?

Anonymous said...

Nice post today about the McDonald book which i also thought was a little "over the top" but that's why i come here for, your words of wisdom.

Rodney Fincham

Anonymous said...

Oh man, i'd love an Elton John day, i'm down for that!

Charles Bilz

Noam Sane said...

I thoroughly enjoyed that book. My favorite nugget was learning that Lennon wanted the animal sounds at the end of "Good Morning Good Morning" arranged in the order of who could eat whom.

There's a lot of tut-tutting about Lennon's drug use, combined with lavish praise for the songs that resulted from said drug use.

I guess I notice a passing resemblance between those two toons, but he was pretty good at obscuring his a great songwriter should.

The Phantom Creep said...

Had not heard that story before. Hadn't heard the Smokey song either.


misospecial said...

i was a lit major—milton, dante, shakespeare, joyce, chaucer: the footnotes i got used to.

RITH is more a reference than a book to actually read. nobody would agree with him all the time. but there is a LOT of information worth having, and the book is a pretty efficient storage device.

and i think the essay on the '60s is totally worth the bother.

The PopCulturist said...

I'm amazed that for someone of your erudition you don't know that Smokey song! Do yourself a favor and get yourself a multi-disc collection of early Miracles stuff STAT! There are such a wealth of clever, indelible, joyously performed treasures to discover. Smokey was idolized by the Beatles AND Dylan, after all.

And that goes double for all you Lennon-lubbers out there! :^)

The PopCulturist said...

Oh and PS Sal, I've been wanting to tell you how psyched I was to see your name as a follower on my blog The Rare Stuff. I hope you've enjoyed the Costello posts among others, since I'm indebted to you for all the great EC stuff you've provided here!

If you think you have room on your blog list to add mine I'd certainly be honored.

The next mega-post of Elvis rarities is due within the week!


(If you don't want to publish this comment since it's more of a personal message, I surely wouldn't mind)

Sal Nunziato said...

Thanks for the note. I do own a ton of Smokey. As a matter of fact, I have all 12 volumes of the Complete Motown Singles. It's just so daunting and I'm afraid if I live to be 100, I may never get around to hearing every song.

Looking forward to your next Elvis blast.

By the way, do you know "It Only Costs A Dime" by the Everly Brothers? That song and "Brilliant Mistake" were my first choices for this post.

Gonna add you to my blog roll--STAT!


The PopCulturist said...

Thanks Sal! As soon as I posted that comment I thought "Who do you think you're talking to? Of course he's got a Smokey compilation!" I got the old 3-LP Anthology album for a bar mitzvah present in 1981 and every word and sound was indelibly imprinted on me, and that song was on there.

I love how early Smokey songs often have these seemingly tossed-off couplets over the fade ("I'll Try Something New" comes to mind as one example), brilliant rhymes added practically as an afterthought, but almost suggesting entire bonus songs themselves, in the same way that some Beatles bridges seem like a whole extra song hidden inside the main one.

Good call on Everlys/Elvis, I'll bet Elvis was familiar with that Everlys tune, too. Hmm... wonder if the studio musicians on it might have included a certain Messrs. Burton or Scheff?