Educating Peter # 5

July 22, 2012

This week Michael has sent me a song called “Your I’s Are Too Close Together” by The Elevators. It’s a song that almost defies analysis because there’s not much to it. “Your I’s…” is a simple skinny-tie song – i.e., very few chords, minimal instrumentation, and simple melodies. I could leave the description at that, but I’m afraid it wouldn’t make for much of a post.

OK. I’ll whack on the headphones, prick up my ears in readiness, press “play”, and…

The Elevators – “Your I’s Are Too Close Together” (1980)


Now, I’m a lover of puns, but the one in that title even made me go “Ugh”.

The sound of the very first chord that opens the song made me think it was going to be a song from the 1960s. (If all I ever heard of this song was the first three seconds, I’d swear it was from the 60s.) But then the singin’ chappy started a-singin’ and it sounded skinny-tie-ish, placing it squarely in 1980.

I was a bit surprised with the singin’ chappy’s singing in the first part of the song, because I didn’t think he was going to sing the same melody over and over again for twenty seconds*.

(*I’m not a great typist, and the first time I tried typing the word “seconds” it came out as “scones”. I like the idea of twenty scones. Mmm: scones. And I can share them with people.)

Until the singer changed his melody at 0:24 I was afraid he was going to do nothing but sing that initial tune for the entire song.

One of the unfortunate side-effects of hearing the singer singing that tune repeatedly is that it caused me to reach into my media player and pull out:

Pete Townshend – “Let My Love Open The Door (1980) (excerpt)


That Pete Townshend song was released in the same year as the Elevators one. Hmm.

Oh, before I forget: I want to mention that the singer reminds me of Pete Shelley (from the Buzzcocks) .

I was a bit irritated that it took 45 seconds to get to the chorus. I thought skinny tie songs were meant to be zippy and to-the-point, no messin’ about (like punk, which is where I thought skinny-tie power pop came from).

But anyway, at 0:45 it became the chorus. Oh-oh: the melody of the chorus reminds me of something. And the melody in the second half of the chorus (“Your ey-ey-ey-ey-eys…” starting at 0:58) also reminds me of something, too. This isn’t helping me concentrate on the song at hand. I was surprised when he sang the “Your ey-ey-ey-ey-eys…” three times. I thought that was two times too many (i.e., once was enough). And the melody after that, “to-ge-ther” starting at 1:08, was repeated far too many times for my liking. I counted, and he sang “to-ge-ther” four times – but it felt like many more.

I must say that, for a skinny-tie song, I’m a bit dismayed at how much repetition is going on in this supposedly short’n’sweet early-80’s power pop ditty.

The chorus has finished, and it’s on to the second verse with an alarming repetition of the initial melody. And then it’s the chorus with its three melodies repeated ad nauseum.

But at least the song finished fading out on the second chorus.

There really wasn’t much to this song.

To end this post I’ll play you the full version of the Pete Townshend song, which is something I’d much rather hear than that track by The Elevators:

Pete Townshend – “Let My Love Open The Door (1980)


Song of the day: Pete Townshend – "Give Blood"

August 25, 2011

I’m going to do something I don’t usually do: I’m going to ask you to play the video first, because it’s that version of the song I’m featuring today. And it’s a specific aspect of the performance in the video that I want you to experience.

I’ve chosen today’s track specifically for the drumming, which is provided by premier session dude Simon Phillips (who also provided the drums on the studio version). I think it’s astonishing drumming, and propels the song in a way that makes it an unstoppable force of nature:

Pete Townshend – “Give Blood” (1985)


Potentially snooze-inducing sidenote: Simon Phillips came to Australia in the 80’s and held a drum clinic in Adelaide (the state capital of South Australia, where I live). I must admit that I don’t remember exactly when that was, so I’ll have to interrupt his reminiscence to find some dates…

Found it. According to this page, Simon Phillips was in Adelaide sometime in May 1988 for a clinic tour promoting Zildjian and Tama. (Drummers know what those mysterious words “Zildjian” and “Tama” mean.)

Anyway, I went off to this drum clinic*. Simon appeared, said “howdy” to everyone (he may not have actually used the word “howdy”), sat down at his drum kit, and proceeded to play “Give Blood” (see above). In its entirety. Completely solo. And my jaw dropped – for six minutes.

It was one of the most amazing musical performances I’ve ever experienced. Thanks, Simon, for drumming an entire song on your own and not making it boring.

Hi, Simon!

(*It was at John Reynolds Music City. I remembered where it was! Woohoo!)