Song Analysis, In The Style Of...

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Song Analysis, In The Style Of...

Post by C.K on Wed Dec 19, 2012 8:31 am

Tom Reynolds has penned the books "Touch Me, I'm Sick - the 52 creepiest love songs you've ever heard" and "I Hate Myself and Want To Die - the 52 most depressing songs you've ever heard", and both books are among the funniest I've ever read. Dissecting many classics, musically and lyrically, and putting his own interpretation on them, it's inspired me in the off-season, to keep a literary hand in and give it a whirl on a few classics.

Feel free to join in with your own, and remember - it's just for a laugh, not too serious. If you want a much better chuckle, seek out the original books, which are both still in print and quite inexpensive.
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Re: Song Analysis, In The Style Of...

Post by C.K on Wed Dec 19, 2012 9:03 am

LOVE BITES – DEF LEPPARD (1987 – from the “Hysteria” album – U.S. #1)

Ahhh, yes, Def Leppard. Who among us doesn’t have the “Hysteria” album tucked away in their archives somewhere (Over 50’s are excused here, but with a caution to grab a copy and replace those Bay City Rollers LP’s). A disc that, for two years, kept spawning hit singles and keeping FM radio programmers joyous in the knowledge they were keeping the headbangers and the teenyboppers happy in one swoop. So many to choose from on an album that brought new height to hair and 50 Ways To Tune Your Guitar, but this one kept us swaying for months in Australia and longer in the States.

The opening lines always remain a concern to me. “When you make love, do you look in the mirror?”. Well, no, not unless you are one of the most narcissistic sorts out there with an inherent need to both admire and critique the technique all at once. It also lends concern to the partner in question that your concentration span is lacking, but we’ll press on. “Who do you think of, does he look like me?” You can almost picture the scene in 1987, when Alanis Morrissette first hears that line and files it away thoughtfully for future reference for her own little tome of exploding passion, although far less reserved than Messrs Elliott and Co here.

“When you’re alone, do you let go, are you wild and willing, or is just for show”. So many lines here and so little time, but let’s just speculate for a minute about how many people raise the next door neighbours and send birds into frightened flight with a little solo Afternoon Delight at the best of times. Although I live in a suburb with houses close by, I’m unable to recollect any times of being awoken from an afternoon doze by the sounds of excited one-person dates, although I possibly live in the wrong part of town.

The guitar work in the song is typically Def Leppard. Full of rich licks, guitar necks thrust dangerously in every direction and a feeling that either the strings will snap any moment or they will launch into “The Final Countdown” at a moment’s persuasion. Restraint is not a word in the Lep dictionary, so when they roar about “I don’t want to touch you too much baby, cos making love to you might drive me crazy”, a second’s pause to think may be needed. If it’s driving you crazy, then it’s either time to reassess the technique or look at different outlets for your frustrations. Making you happy, more relaxed, contented, sure, but crazy? That’s a new one.

“When I’m with you, are you somewhere else?” (insert easy joke about overseas separations, dodgy mobile phone reception here), “Am I getting through, or do you please yourself?” (darn those phone companies and their poor reception, looks like another night alone looming). It becomes blindingly apparent that the six – yes, that’s right, SIX writers of this song (dividing up the royalties must have been a hoot. “Well, look, you did the part about being driven crazy, but that E Flat on the third bridge was mine, dude”) – chaps behind this one were not merely penning a heartfelt ballad of love between two people, but very much love by one person. One with a preoccupation toward being alone, critiquing one-self and being content to do so. Suddenly, the song takes on a whole new spin and those of us who swayed awkwardly to it at the Year 11 disco are re-assessing the reactions of their then-partner on a whole new level.

“It can’t be love, if you throw it about”, which leads mental images of the Easter Beagle, skipping the fields hurling love around with abandon suddenly, and then hurtled again into the chorus, which reminds us again how Love Bites (so did Reality, and at this point, you keep thinking that Winona Ryder ought to pop into the song now to lend it some dancing through a 7 Eleven and bring some levity to things) and Love Bleeds.....hang on, back up the track. Love BLEEDS now as well? We were willing to accept that it bit, but bleeding, well that’s just a whole new ball game now. Love shouldn’t be painful unless you are The Cure (a band I’ll look at down the track, and confirm that they aren’t as depressing as many black clad figures on a 40 Degree day will have you believe). I’m now concerned at the Def Leppard Book Of Love and how it all works, although did note that five years later, they urged us to “Make Love Like A Man” suggesting they spent those five years watching “Home Improvement” and learning the Tim Allen School Of Romance.

The song roars through the chorus twice more, before the usual Leppard fadeout and a slight feeling of exhaustion at the whole experience. Many of their tunes are ripping rock tunes with a fair dash of self deprecation thrown in and can’t be taken too seriously (Any band that urges us to pour liberal dashes of condiments on us on the same album is drinking from many different wells), but “Love Bites” is one of those songs that invariably pops up on Top 50 Songs That I Really Love Snogging To In Sedans Countdowns, or how obscure Channel Max gets with their countdowns nowadays. It’s a tune that seems to take itself very seriously, but you really have to wonder why, after breaking this one down. I need a cold shower now.
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Re: Song Analysis, In The Style Of...

Post by Lee on Wed Dec 19, 2012 9:05 am

On holidays now, CK? Wink

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The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed – and hence clamorous to be led to safety – by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.”– H.L. Mencken
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Re: Song Analysis, In The Style Of...

Post by C.K on Thu Dec 20, 2012 8:23 am

You’re So Vain – Carly Simon

One of the most dissected songs around, in terms of who the blazes the tune is actually written about. So many names bandied about, including Mick Jagger and Warren Beatty, but and more recently, record producer and mogul David Geffen has been nominated, which explains a few things in the tune suddenly. This song is one of the most unique songs in that it can flatter and insult, all at once but has become somewhat of a millstone around Ms Simon’s neck, particularly for those who fail to understand her catalogue extended beyond this ditty.

She tells us early that he “walked into the party, like you were walking onto a yacht”. Presumably, said subject (hereafter referred to as Vain Man) is much more co-ordinated than many in the population such as myself, who tend to stumble, slide or stagger on board marine craft, even at the peak of sobriety. Then again, maybe all these years we mistook her description as being stylish when it was more like an errant, banana skin filled entrance. If the latter was the case, it makes the positioning of “your hat strategically dipped below one eye” even more logical. Few people nowadays tend to wander jetties with hats askew unless they are attempting to channel pirates or have oddly shaped heads, but we have to assume that if Vain Man caught Carly’s eye long enough to inspire a song, his noggin was shaped normally. “Your scarf, it was apricot”...hold on, stop the bus a second. The prevalence of apricot as a fashion colour has dimmed for years, and is not that often seen on men (okay, let me clarify this – not among my social group anyway. That may say more about me than other people), but makes one wonder if said subject has a matching set of fruit coloured dayware for such seabound adventures. The mind boggles.

“You had one eye on the mirror as you watched yourself gavotte”. I bet he did. Gavotte?? Let’s just repaint the mental picture here for clarity. A bloke with a hat askew, wearing a scarf the colour of stone fruit, unleashing a French folk dance as he boards a yacht. Chum, no doubt people are watching you, but it ain’t for your looks, I’d suggest. Your entrance probably threw off the party animals waiting to unleash Gangnam Style. Apparently, however, “all the girls dreamed that they’d be your partner”, which seems unusual on its own, unless they are also passionate about the French Folk Dance movement. So, now we are left wondering about exactly who was on this strange marine craft overall. Possibly a WEA group waiting for their Gavotte course.

It makes many of the lyrics largely redundant now, such as lots of waffle about clouds in her coffee (that sounds much more of an issue relating to her beverage making technique, really. No person should have clouds in their coffee, if they are making it properly, but we’ve already established some oddities overall anyway. It really sounds like Carly needs to change the filters on her machine)

“Well I hear you went up to Saratoga, and your horse, it naturally won” (the plot thickens. A strangely clad nimble gambler now. Sounds even more of a catch), “then you flew your Lear Jet up to Nova Scotia, to see the total eclipse of the sun”. (at least it wasn’t a Total Eclipse Of The Heart, I suppose)...”and when you’re not you’re with some underworld spy or the wife of a close friend”. Eyebrows raise further now. So, this all round unusual chap is also prone to dabbling in some James Bond action while chasing a bit on the side with his mate’s missus. No wonder he has to board yachts on his own.

After lots more going about how this “song is about you, don’t you, DON’T YOU” (more fodder for Alanis Morrisette), the tune fades to black and leaves the listener bewildered again. In summary, we have a bloke with doubtful fashion sense, more unusual dancing styles, boarding yacht, making a spectacle of himself, and flying all around the country to watch horses run. Finally, the mystery is solved then. How many of us actually thought the subject would be John Singleton?

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Re: Song Analysis, In The Style Of...

Post by C.K on Sat Dec 22, 2012 8:14 am

WANTED DEAD OR ALIVE – Bon Jovi (1986 – U.S #7, Australia #15)

** Disclaimer – I really like this song and always have. It’s one of my favorite Bon Jovi songs, so analysis must be tempered with an affection for the song, but lyrically, it’s still unusual. **

Sacrilegious though it may be to subject Bon Jovi to analysis, they have the knack for writing some ripping music at times accompanied by interesting lyrics. This track, one of the latter singles from the mega “Slippery When Wet” album has found its way into numerous TV shows and any cowboy themed production over the years. The last time it appeared on the radio, the car immediately filled with dust and sunsets appeared from nowhere. JBJ’s confident delivery sheens into view, where he tells us that it’s all the same, only the names will change. The mind boggles as to just where Jon is taking us now...a school reunion? Department store crowds?

“Another place, where the faces are so cold...” (keep this one in mind shortly, it will come back to haunt JBJ), “I’d drive all night, just to get back home”. Hands up anyone who hasn’t done that at some point? Yes, hard to see the people for the forest on this one. It’s hardly unique. At some point, most of us have battled darkness for Home Sweet Home, but apparently it’s a Major Thing for the Joves.

“I’m a cowboy, on a steel horse I ride”....now, hang on a cotton pickin’ minute here. Are we hearing the tale of JBJ astride a clotheshorse? Are we regressing to childhood in the name of lyrical mastery? Suddenly a dash of magic seems gone from all of this. “I’m wanted (WANTED) dead or alive” (which seems a serious repercussion for merely spinning a childhood regression yarn, but we know how seriously some cultures take things).
More Dramatic Guitar Solos ensue until we hear that sometimes he sleeps, sometimes it’s not for days. Hey, we all get that at times. Caffeine will do that, worry will do that, and realising you’ve led your audience astray with horse analogies will do that also.

“Sometimes you tell the day, by the bottle that you drink”. Ahem. Cliche alert again here. Not sure about you, but my calendar rarely runs according to my beverage list. Okay, if I’ve cracked open a chardonnay, then it’s probably Saturday, but that’s about as far as it goes for me. “..and times when you’re alone, and all you do is think”. Well....I don’t know about you lot, but when I’m alone, yes, I do tend to think primarily. There really isn’t much more TO do overall. Most solo activities require thinking (stop that sniggering up the back there).

More guff about walking the streets with loaded six strings on our back (loaded?). and then about how “I’ve seen a million faces, and I’ve rocked them all”. Let’s back up again here, and recall JBJ’s assertion about how in some place, the faces were so cold. Obviously, his rocking technique needs some work if all aforementioned faces he has encountered are now cold. Something’s wrong in the state of Texas here somewhere. Either that, or he is rocking Antarctica, and the thought of millions of penguins headbanging to Bon Jovi tunes is the type of thing Pixar may dream about in the holiday season, but doesn’t really cut it overall.

More heartfelt stuff about being wanted (WANTED!!!) dead or alive ensues, and the guitar slowly fades to black, as we wipe our faces thoughtfully, note the darkness outside as the sun disappears.

Musically, it’s a very tight song that elicits plenty of imagery and that’s all you can ask from most songs, but lyrically, it’s not on JBJ And Crew’s finer moments. “Slippery When Wet” had some pearlers on it, and while the temptation vaguely nagged to see if Johnny (who used to work on the docks) had strolled over from a Bruce Springsteen song to star in “Living On A Prayer” briefly, this one needed more analysis. He did pen a sequel of sorts some years later which told the tale a lot better in “Blaze Of Glory”, but hey, it would normally be a braver man than me to take on The Jove and expect to make it out. Dead or alive.

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Re: Song Analysis, In The Style Of...

Post by Chambo Off To Work We Go on Sat Dec 22, 2012 8:20 am

I think "You're So Vain" is generally accepted to be about Beatty.
Simon had a fling with him I think.
Probably easier to list the starlets who didn't as it's a shorter list.

Jagger sang backing vocals in the chorus.
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Re: Song Analysis, In The Style Of...

Post by howthewestwaswon on Tue Jan 22, 2013 11:07 pm

Wanted Dead Or Alive is lyrically mostly about life on tour and how hard they have to work to make it in the music industry and how hard it is to get a break from it once you make it. I've heard Jon speak about it numerous times through various interviews on TV, online etc.

Lyrically it makes sense to me when put in that context. Very Happy
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