Monday, February 27, 2006

The stories behind the songs

Great article in The Guardian last Friday - quick interviews with some brilliant musicians about how they came up with some of their classic songs. Here are some of the best:

Karl Hyde (vocalist, Underworld) on Underworld's "Born Slippy": We used to go out drinking in Soho and I ended up in the Ship on Wardour Street. All the lyrics were written on that night. A drunk sees the world in fragments and I wanted to recreate that...Rick [Smith] came up with a rhythm and I started singing over it. The vocals were done in one take. When I lost my place, I'd repeat the same line; that's why it goes, "lager, lager, lager, lager"... Why Born Slippy? It was a greyhound we won money on.

Johnny Marr (guitarist, the Smiths) on The Smith's "How Soon is Now?": One night I was playing for my own pleasure and I suddenly got the riff. It all came together - the tremolo and the stomping
groove - for what became How Soon Is Now, although my demo was titled Swamp. Because it was a groove track it originally appeared as an extra track on a 12-inch, but popular clamour forced its single release. I remember when Morrissey first sang: "I am the son and the heir ..." [Producer] John Porter went, "Ah great, the elements!" Morrissey continued, " ... of a shyness that is
criminally vulgar." I knew he'd hit the bullseye there and then.

Peter Hook (bassist, New Order) on New Order's "Blue Monday": Bernard [Sumner] and Stephen [Morris] were the instigators. It was their enthusiasm for new technology. The drum pattern was ripped off from a Donna Summer B-side. We'd finished the drum pattern and we were really happy, then Steve accidentally kicked out the drum
machine lead so we had to start from scratch and it was never as good...It was a collection of soundbites - it sort of grew and grew...When we got to the end I went in and jammed the bass; I stole a riff from Ennio Morricone...Bernard went in and jammed the vocals...They're not about Ian Curtis; we wanted it to be vague. I was reading about Fats Domino. He had a song called Blue Monday and it was a Monday and we were all miserable so I thought, "Oh that's quite apt."

So, repeating vocals + tremolo and groove + Donna Summer b-sides = three of the best songs ever.


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