Educating Peter # 36

February 24, 2013

A couple of weeks ago for this series Michael suggested a song by American band The Pursuit Of Happiness called “She’s So Young”. I was thrilled, and inwardly shouted “Hallelujah!” (in a non-Christian way).

It’s because, for the first time in ages, Michael had suggested a song by a band I not only knew, but also liked a lot way back in that musically murky decade we call The Eighties.

Back then I really, really liked the band’s best-known song, “I’m An Adult Now”. I thought it was wizzo.

Unfortunately, and as is typical with my memory, “I’m An Adult Now” was the only song of theirs I remembered. “She’s So Young” was a bit of a mystery to me. Because I was interested in the band, I would have been interested in whatever they released. I’m sure I must have heard “She’s So Young” at some time. But I didn’t remember it at all.

Ah well. As I said to a friend the other day, one of the advantages of a poor memory is that you get to hear something for the first time more than once.

And so, with memory askew, let us rediscover something I probably heard in 1988:

The Pursuit Of Happiness – “She’s So Young” (1988)

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0:00-0:30 – I think I remember this. Maybe.

What’s unusual for me about this opening verse is that it doesn’t sound like a verse. With its jazzy chords, it sounds more like a middle eight, and as I listen to it I’m convinced the band has started this song with the middle eight.

0:30-0:59 – Nope. I still don’t remember it.

Those background vocals at 0:33-0:34 are lovely. And there they are again at 0:47-0:48. Lovely.

Come to think of it, this section sounds like a middle eight as well. Whatever it is, it’s catchy.

(Note to self: It’s the chorus, Peter. Choruses are supposed to be catchy.)

0:59-1:28 – Another middle eight verse. Nothing to mention here, because I’m sitting back and enjoying it, not noticing little things that might annoy me. (“It’s not annoying me.” How’s that for damning with faint praise?)

1:28-1:57 – Another chorus, with an enjoyable bass line from the bass player. Thanks, bass player! And sorry about not noticing the bass line when you played it in the first chorus.

1:57-2:29 – A flanged guitar solo – as a lot of guitar solos were in the 1980s. (Producers sure did love sound effects in the ’80s.) It’s not fancy or anything, so there’s not much for me to say about it.

2:29-3:36 – Another chorus (or two, because we’re getting to the end of the song).

At 2:56 there’s a fancy guitar chord, and that signals a repeat of the chorus. OK. Two choruses at the end of the song. I’m fine with that. Because this song is very pleasant, I’m guessing it’s going to fade out very slowly.

3:34-3:36 –Nope. It didn’t fade slowly. At 3:34-3:26 the band played a couple of jazzy chords, and then they all stopped.

3:37 – The band’s not playing anymore, because they all stopped.

***

I can’t let this post go without playing you “I’m An Adult Now”, the one song by The Pursuit Of Happiness that I remember. I must admit that I don’t think it’s as monumentally fabulous as I did way back when I first heard it, but I’ve enjoyed hearing it again after all these decades.

The Pursuit Of Happiness – “She’s So Young” (1988)

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The Pursuit Of Happiness – “She’s So Young” (original version) (1986)

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***

By the way, when Michael suggested “She’s So Young”, I didn’t remember the song he had chosen. I immediately remembered this instead:

Myracle Brah – “She’s So Young (1998)

    I think that is a great, great song. Why did I remember that “She’s So Young” but not the other one?

(I know why: because I think the Myracle Brah song is magnificent, and magnificent songs tend to stay in my head.)

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Song of the day: Splitsville – "Tears Are Cool"

March 19, 2010

Now, this is what I call variety.

I was contacted by Splitsville, a US band I have actually heard of. (Hooray! A band I’ve heard of!) They sent me a few songs to listen to, but after listening to them I was convinced that each song was by a different band.

I like the songs they sent, but I’m having trouble getting my head around the idea that they’re all from the same band.

If you’re game, give these tracks a listen. Try them out for size then tell me it’s just one band. I won’t believe you…

Splitsville – “Tears Are Cool”*

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Nice, dreamy, and with extra-distorted guitars to give you that luxurious My Bloody Valentine vibe. Overall, I like this song a lot. However, there’s a chord choice in the chorus I’m not particularly keen on. The first time it happens is when the singer’s a-singin’ “You might say I know…” (which starts at the 19-second mark). The chord changes from something (E minor I think) to something else (E major? E7?) when he sings “I know” (at 22 seconds), and I find it jarring. Unfortunately for me, because it’s in the chorus it keeps happening. Grrr. And while I’m on the subject of things I don’t like about this song, since when have tears ever been “cool”? Who enjoys watching someone cry? Is the singer being poetic or cruel? Am I interpreting the lyrics too seriously? Does anyone care? (Answer: no.) This is all probably nit-picking, so feel free to call me Nit-Pickin’ Pete.

Splitsville – “Brink” (2004)

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This doesn’t sound like the same band to me. Unlike the previous song, this one is straight-ahead 80’s-ish power pop with a nice little nod to Van Halen (“…dance the night away…” at 0:57). I like the lyrics:

“I’ll get there late, don’t get me wrong
I like your band but hate your song
The parts that suck are obvious
Need I explain them to you…”

Splitsville – “Ponce De Leon” (2007)

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Are they Ben Folds Five here?

Splitsville – “Forever” (2001)

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This is a completely different band. It has to be.

Splitsville – “I Concentrate On You” (1998)

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Is this still Splitsville?

Splitsville – “The Love Songs of B. Douglas Wilson” (2001)

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Isn’t this The Wondermints? (Actually, it could be any number of bands that worship Brian Wilson – there are plenty around – but this is a cut above a lot of those other “any number of bands” because it’s a pretty good pastiche of all things Pet Sounds-y.)

I’ve come to the conclusion that this is one schizophrenic band.

Honestly, if you’re the kind of person who listens to bands and complains that their songs all sound the same, then Splitsville is definitely the band for you.

Oh, yeah. One more thing before you start wondering if this post will ever finish, I found a musical coincidence in one of the other songs the band sent to me. (Whichever band it is. I’m still not convinced those songs are all by the same band.)

Here’s a bit of Splitsville’s “White Dwarf” (2004):

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And here’s a bit of Myracle Brah’s “She’s So Young” (1998):

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Here are the full versions:

Splitsville – “White Dwarf” (2004)

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Myracle Brah – “She’s So Young” (1998)

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I know it’s a small coincidence, and won’t mean much in the grand scheme of things, but I noticed it and wanted to show it to you. Yep: Nit-Pickin’ Pete.

Splitsville official website
Splitsville on MySpace

(*I’ve just discovered that although Splitsville recorded “Tears Are Cool,” they didn’t write it. It’s a Teenage Fanclub song – which shows you how much I listen to Teenage Fanclub. In light of this, I take back what I said about the possibility of Splitsville’s singer being cruel. Now I’m wondering about what kind of chaps the members of Teenage Fanclub are… Tears are cool? Huh?)