Thursday, November 20, 2008

The Groove That Saved The Song That Saved My Life

Today's exercise with the randomizer produced two tracks with simple but delightful grooves that generate their own electricity:

"It's A Long Way To The Top (If You Wanna Rock 'n' Roll)" -- AC/DC
"Found A Job" -- Talking Heads

"Long Way" is one of those rock songs that gets me nudging the volume knob a touch higher, to give it "that extra push over the cliff." What's the attraction? Other than bagpipes, nothing more than a stripped-down Chuck Berry groove that just won't quit. It's not just my favorite AC/DC song, it's my favorite AC/DC video as well: Bon the Falstaffian clown is still alive, and the other four are young enough to throw everything they've got into making a "concert" on a flatbed truck look like it's a heap of fun. And did I forget to mention the bagpipes?

The "Long Way" riff is the easiest thing for a first-time guitar-player to learn, which gives it an instant nostalgia factor. The groove the propels Talking Heads' "Found A Job" is similarly straight-forward -- two bar-chords, A7 and D7 -- but physically trickier to master. In fact, the dexterity it requires never really occurred to me until I saw David Byrne strumming it on his Strat in the movie. His strumming wrist is as fluid as the rest of his body, making it all look very easy -- for him. That visual memory of Byrne's rhythmic panache adds to the song's groove. It's also got funny lyrics that seem to have pretty much become the stock and trade of this world-wide web we're on.

The other song courtesy of the randomizer was The Kinks' "Destroyer." Nothing particularly groovy about that tune, but I've always admired the band's audacity, harnessing new lyrics to a former top-ten hit ("All Day And All Of The Night") and nearly getting the same slot 15 years later.

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