Monday, 21 October 2013

AAA Songs With The Same Titles As Other AAA Songs (Top Fifteen, News and Views 216)

Every so often it gets confusing. I'll be tweeting/writing/emailing about one particular AAA track and one of my followers will assume I'm talking about another one bya completely different AAA band. There are, after all, only a finite number of words in the English language and bands are much more likely to use certain words such as 'love' over and over again rather than, say, the word 'xylophone'. So here, this week, is our guide to the top fifteen song titles that have been used by at least two AAA bands and how different the songs are from each other. Note that we aren't counting 'covers' of the same songs (that would be cheating!) and due to space I've chosen not to include instances of the same band recording two songs with the same title (as per The Beach Bioys' 'All I Wanna Do' and 'All I Want To Do' a mere album apart or The Monkees doing two songs named 'You and I' with a difference of 28 years). Note the fact that some bands crop up on this list and others not at all: perhaps The Beach Boys and The Kinks in particular took an interest in other people's song titles?! I've also been quite hard on the similarities of the names, the only difference granted being the singular and plural of the same word (that's whether there's an 's' or not in normal speak!) So anyway here they are, in strict alphabetical order:

"Breakaway/Break Away"

(Art Garfunkel "Breakaway" 1974/Beach Boys A side 1969)

The Beach Boys' last single for Capitol records and of the 1960s is a bittersweet reflection on cutting free, written by Brian Wilson in collaboration with his dad Murray for the only time (under the odd choice of pseudonym Reggie Dunbar).My personal favourite Beach Boys its catchy and happy whilst making it clear that the optimism is born from a dark period in the narrator's life. By contrast Art Garfunkel's song (with guests Crosby and Nash on backing vocals) is pure happiness and joy, all about breaking free and not thinking about the bad parts.


(The Hollies 'Stay With The Hollies' 1963/Grateful Dead "American Beauty" 1970)

The Hollies probably weren't aware that their favourite Freddy Neil song was all about drugs when they included it as the last track of their debut album (although, as we've often said on this website, the Hollies tended to get away with more than most thanks to their more fulsome image - and the hints of sex and drugs on their albums can't all have been entirely innocent). A rousing blues number about a man who comes and gives a girl 'candy kisses every single night', the candyman himself is a hero greeted with warmth by all and sundry. By contrast the Grateful Dead make no bones about the fact that their candyman is a drug pusher (or possibly a sex fiend) but they're much more melancholic about the whole thing, Jerry Garcia's vocal at its most vulnerable and quiet here on his and Bob Hunter's song. This candyman is greeted with fear and awe, the characters in the song afraid every time he comes round but unable to without their regular fix of what he has to sell. A mournful pedal steel couldn't sit in greater contrast to Bobby Elliott's rat-a-tat drums on the Hollies song.


(Rolling Stones 'Between The Buttons' 1967/Jefferson Starship 'Nuclear Furniture' 1984)

Two very different songs about the same thing - relationships. The Rolling Stones' song is their most basic and R and B influenced track on their first (and best) psychedelic opus of an album, proclaiming 'All I want to do is be with you' as the narrator tries to get it together with his girl. The Jefferson Starship song, though, is part of a suite about mankind picking himself up after world war III and building a new society without the walls and prejudices of the 'old world'. 'Cease this endless struggle, it only hurts the children!'

"Heart Of Gold"

(Lulu 'Something To Shout About' 1964/Neil Young 'Harvest' 1972/The Kinks 'State Of Confusion' 1983)

Neil's take on this subject is perhaps his most famous song, the narrator mining for gold a metaphor for the love-lorn lover trying to find his heart's desire and looking round the world for it. 'I've been a miner and I'm growing old' indeed. The Kinks' lesser known version is more literal, telling the tale of a young girl (possibly one of Ray's daughters, maybe memories of his brother Dave or even himself, almost definitely inspired by Princess Anne being rude to the media) overlooked by noisier elder siblings and developing a bitter mask to hide it all. Ray Davies is in sunny mood, though, and admits that 'underneath that crude exterior you've got a heart of gold', warning the subject of the song to 'watch out' in case that heart is taken for good.

"Here Comes The Night"

(Beach Boys 1967 and 1979 'Wild Honey' and 'L.A. Light Album' and Lulu 'Something To Shout About' 1964)
The Beach Boys' twin takes on their same song couldn't be more different: the original is a tight two minute soul pastiche that covers a lot of ground - the second is a disco re-recording that split fans right down the middle and lasts a whopping eleven minutes (personally, I love it). The theme of the songs are of the narrator waiting for the night time to fall because - to quote another Brian Wilson song altogether - 'night time is the right time'. Lulu is thinking along the same lines in her moody cover of a song most famously sang by Van Morrison, but the night is a time of tragedy because the narrator is all alone and can't hide from the fact she's split with her sweetheart.

"It's Alright"

(The Searchers 'Meet The Searchers' 1963/The Kinks B Side 1964 and 'Phobia' 1993/Graham Nash 'Earth and Sky' 1979/Yoko Ono 'It's Alright I See Rainbows' 1984)

Interestingly, by far the most popular AAA title of them all. Both the Searchers and early Kinks songs are Merseybeat masterpieces in miniature, punky aggressive two minute songs that don't get far beyond telling us that the narrator is in love and feeling 'alllrrriiiiggghhhttt!' The two songs are very similar, actually, even though the first is a cover song dating back to the late 50s and the latter is one of Ray Davies' earliest compositions. Zoom forward a few years and Graham Nash is using his title of 'It's Alright' for a sensitive ballad about trying to come to terms with middle age and the fact that not all relationships survive that long. Yoko, meanwhile, is still mourning the loss of John and the title track of her second post-assassination album is, much like that whole LP, a fake as a heartbroken widow pretends to her child that everything will be OK when she knows it won't be. Finally, The Kinks' 1993 version is subtitled 'Don't Think About It' and is a Dave Davies song about people blindly leading their lives without realising the bigger picture - the 'it's alright' here being used as sarcasm. So there you have it: the same phrased used twice as expressions of joy, once as a calming method, once as obfuscation and once as a brutal attack.

"One Of These Days"

(Pink Floyd 'Meddle' 1971/Neil Young 'Harvest Moon' 1992)

These two songs from 20 years apart couldn't be more different either. Pink Floyd's take on the phrase 'One Of These Days' was originally subtitled 'I'm Going To Cut You Into Little Pieces', which will give you some idea of what a dark and hard-edged near-instrumental this rocker is. By contrast, Neil Young celebrates his 47th birthday by sitting down to 'write a long letter' to 'all the good friends I've known' - before figuring that they all know he loves them anyway and turns it into a song instead. One of his more cloying, sentimental songs it's interesting that this one of several songs from 'Harvest Moon' on this list. Nice tune though.


(Buffalo Springfield 'Last Time Around' 1968/Moody Blues 'A Question Of Balance' 1970)

The Buffalo Springfield take on Stephen Stills' 'Questions' was actually a solo cut that was meant to be saved for a solo album but ending up being re-recorded anyway as the grand finale of 'Carry On', the much talked about opening track from CSNY's 'Deja Vu'. One of many Stills songs from this period about his on-off relationship with Judy Collins, it's a kind of prequel to 'Suite: Judy Blue Eyes' with the singer being pulled this way and that, unsure whether to commit properly or run away. The Moodies' take on the same theme typically has a much wider source, with the narrator questioning the unfair way the world works and only revealing in the quieter sections (originally part of another Justin Hayward song entirely) that the narrator is vulnerable because he's just split up from his partner. Two very different questions ut neither of them have any answers, ending the songs as confused as ever.

"(A)Round and (A)Round"

(Neil Young 'Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere' 1969 and Pink Floyd 'A Momentary Lapse Of Reason' 1987)
A bit of a last minute discovery this one. The one slow moment on Neil Young's noisy first record with Crazy Horse, 'Round and Round' features Neil, Danny Whitten and sometime girlfriend Robyn Lane rocking on rocking chairs and singing to their acoustics about how life goes round in circles. Pink Floyd may well have been thinking the same with their similar acoustic instrumental tacked onto the end of 'Yet Another Movie', though how this 30 second instrumental got its name (por why it made the album indexed as a separate track) is another thing altogether.


(The Moody Blues 'Magnificent Moodies' 1965 and Pink Floyd 'The Wall' 1979)

Two very different AAA songs here. The Moodies' - discussed only a few issues ago - is a typical mid 60s pop song, Denny Laine and Mike Pinder trying to get their girl to 'stop' in her tracks and give their love another chance (the song even stops and starts in a very clever manner). The Floyd's take on 'Stop!' is sung by character Pink, now nearing the end of the story when he's so trapped in by his own wall of paranoia built by greedy managers, cruel teachers and uncaring girlfriends and on trial for his very life. 'Stop!' he shouts, just as the record has built up to its noisiest point, 'I want to go home...', thus starting Pink's journey back to his true self on very humble terms.


(Cat Stevens 'Mona Bone Jakon' 1970/Pink Floyd 'Dark Side Of The Moon' 1973'/Dennis Wilson 'Pacific Ocean Blue' 1977)

There are dozens of AAA songs about time - it might well be the most common theme after 'love' in fact - and there are three that simply use the one words 'time' as their title. All three are really about not having time and come from very troubled periods for all three writers/bands. Cat Stevens' take on 'Time' comes from the period when he was dying from TB with so much work left undone, mournfully concluding 'time leaves you nothing, nothing at all'. Pink Floyd's 'Time' is the 'aging' part of their 'Dark Side Of The Moon' about the pressures of life on all of us and how 'one day you find ten years have got behind you'. Finally Dennis Wilson's 'Time' doesn't mention the word anywhere but is clearly about knowing that time is running short to make peace with his beloved and turn his life around by not messing around with anyone else anymore (Dennis died four years later - many of his friends and family were amazed he lasted that long). All three are among the moodier songs in their artist's respective catalogue and also their best.


(10cc B side 1972 and Paul McCartney "McCartney II" 1980)

These two songs are surprisingly similar. 10cc's song 'Waterfalls' - originally intended as their first single before it got flipped in favour of 'Donna', written as the B-side - is about being overwhelmed by a relationship that's taking place too fast for the narrator to think. Paul McCartney's gorgeous take on 'Waterfall' is also a song about danger, but it's used as a warning: 'don't go chasing waterfalls' indeed (or chasing polar bears, which is useful advice), about meddling with things that are overwhelming. Interestingly, both songs make early use of synthesisers - 10cc were among the first to get to grips with the mellotron for their murky unrelenting instrumental while Macca is playing about with an early version of the modern electronic synthfor a song that's much starker and barer.

"When I Get Home"

(The Beatles 'A Hard Day's Night' 1964 and Pentangle 'Reflection' 1971)

As seen above in our weekly review, Pentangle turn the usual concept of this phrase on it's head. While other bands (such as the Beatles in 1964) can't wait to get home (and will in fact 'love' their loved ones 'till the cows come home'), Pentangle's narrator is dreading going home. He's been off boozing with his chums and hasn't noticed the time and even though he's afraid of upsetting his wife he's too afraid of her to go back yet. In fact he ends the song by wishing he wasn't married at all so he could stay in the pub all day, but then figures he probably wouldn't have much of a 'home' to go to! The Beatles' version is one of their happiest, most carefree, upbeat songs - by contrast Pentangle's is one of the saddest songs in their entire back catalogue.

"Writing On The Wall"

(The Hollies 'A Crazy Steal' 1979 and George Harrison 'Somewhere In England' 1981)

I wonder what made two AAA bands use the phrase so close to each other in time when it's one that has been around for generations. Perhaps George Harrison was still keeping a close eye on his old Northern rivals The Hollies, who got their first by slightly over a year with their version of the title. Both songs are similar in feel, quiet slow understated ballads that only grow into full fire by the last verse but the lyrics to the two are actually quite different. The Hollies' version is lost and lonely, he's seen 'the writing on the wall' but doesn't know what it will mean (we haven't written our review of 'A Crazy Steal' yet but when we do we'll be making the point that it's full of songs like these, with the group at a low ebb and growing apart). Harrison's is more of a warning - characteristically religious in origin - urging anyone listening to him to change their lives because 'the writing's on the wall' for all of us when judgement day comes.

"You and Me"

(The Moody Blues 'Seventh Sojourn' 1972 and Neil Young 'Harvest Moon' 1992)

Finally two AAA songs of togetherness that sound very different to each other. The Moodies' version of 'You and Me' is all about worldly togetherness and how mankind has to learn to live together if any of him is to survive at all, held together by a marvellously clever guitar riff that makes this song one of the band's very best rockers. Neil Young's version - again taken from 'Harvest Moon' - is more personal, a wounded narrator sitting under a tree thinking about 'you and me' in an edgy, frightened-sounding ballad that interestingly was started the same year the Moodies wrote their song (1972) but left unfinished for another 20 years. In the intervening time Neil comes to look on the relationship (presumably Carrie Snodgrass) quite differently now he's been happily married for some 15 years and instead of being young and restless is now 'an old man sitting there, touch of grey but he don't care'.

And that's that for another issue. Be sure to join us next week when there'll be less repetition of names, but also probably some hesitation and deviation as normal. See you then!

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