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My Girl - My God! THE BASSLINE!!!


Drupelet

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For no particular reason I sat down for a few minutes yesterday to figure out the bassline to "My Girl." Holy Guacamole!

THAT's what I love about your music! I know you have commented on this song on these boards before, but wow... Where did that come from? I know you were doing the Brian Wilson tibetan-mind-trick-bassline-thing, but to come up with that melody line to go with it? or vice-versa... Man!

I can listen to most of your songs and hear an echo of some other pop/rock moment of days gone by. I'm perplexed with "My Girl!" It simply sounds like no other record I've ever heard.

Really, Eric, what were you thinking of when you wrote the music to that song? Was there any influence other than Brian Wilson?

More than any other composition of yours, that song stands out to me as your "musical signature." It's just so clever in its construction, energetic, punchy and at the same time so NICE. Good on ya!

I'd be fascinated to read your recollection of the creative process that produced that song and how its realization struck you at the time. Like, did you think it would be your big single?

Thanks, Drupy

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Drupy,

If you listen to the brilliant music of J.S.Bach, he uses a lot of notes in the bass other than the root note of the chord. On "Pet Sounds' I noticed Brian Wilson doing the same thing and I loved the tension that was created by not resolving every chord.

"My Girl" was an experiment. I wanted to see if I could write a song and not use the root note of any chord until I got to the chorus. My thinking was that I might be able to create that same "tension" with all the unresolved chords so that when the chorus happened and the bass played the root note for the first time it would be like a little subliminal explosion of relief.

When I began writing the verse, I realized that using a "C" in the bass, under an "A" minor chord, seemed to dictate a certain note in the melody ( an "E"). At least it did to my ears.

Brian also frequently went to a second in the bass, like playing a "C " major chord over a "B"flat bass note.

At any rate, that was the genesis of the tune. A simple experiment with non-traditional bass notes contained within the structure of a modern pop song.

As usual, the bridge became one of my favorite parts. It begins with the simple melody played by the french horn in the intro (and lifted from Rachmaninoff ) and then delivers the listener to what I can only describe as my Burt Bacharach inspired second half, to lead back into the chorus.

I've always loved the idea of using modulations and key changes during the bridges of my songs that make you feel like the last chorus is exploding up a step or two from the original key, without actually having to resort to the obvious half-step modulation up, which I think is corny, artless and overused.

And there you have it.

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Wow! Eric Carmen Hollies65, Marvin, and James all getting along so nicely on the same thread.In the words of my Mafia relatives "This is beautiful...real f#$kin' beautiful." Let me join the lovefest and say that "My Girl" is a wonderful pop dittie from an amazingly wonderful pop album. Forget the religious talk. It's a no win situation. We're here for the music.

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Eric, I know you heard this one a little different from Jimmy but, I gotta say, you hit this one out of the ballpark.

Sometimes, even the best songs have one syllable, one word, one note, one time change, one...something that catches the ear and makes you wonder if the song could have been improved on just a bit.

"My Girl" is the perfect combination of your talent and craft. Could not be better. Genuis!

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Eric, I just got something that I never noticed about the way I hear music when I'm composing: Even though I play other people's music on occasion and even consider my style to be a little prog rock/jazzy at times, when I'm writing I tend to think in very simple terms.

(I'm a bassist-guitarist-keyboardist-type guy)

Case in point - the opening note of 'My Girl': If i were to play a C under an Am chord I would automatically start thinking about it as if it were a C6 an move on in that direction rather than playing in an Am space.

I know this sounds like a no-brainer, but I realize I've fallen into some bad harmonic habits! I use all kinds of bass movement, but always from a busy/melodic-McCartney-Entwistle paradigm where 'unusual' bass notes function merely as leading tones rather than a core of the composition.

I've completely moved away from Bach's 'rules' of bass movement that I used to apply back in school.

So, thanks for opening up my ears again!

Drupy

PS: This just goes to prove my long held dictum that knowing the history of a song or band will yield a much deeper appreciation of the music than just letting the music 'speak for itself'.

PPS: Hey Message Boarders! I'm pretty much a newbie here (my 7th post) but a long-time reader of these boards. I feel like I already know many of you. It's nice to finally be in the same room with you all!

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Hey Drupy, welcome to the board, and thanks for the astute commentary (and query) on "My Girl."

Eric's reply -- I love that kind of detail. Like you say, when you hear the writer/performer describe the creative process, it only makes for a deeper appreciation. And I've always loved "My Girl" -- it's such a sunny, uplifting song.

In fact, back in the days of the LP, it almost seemed like it got "relegated" to Side 2. For me, anyway, there was always one side of an LP that I played more than the other. Side 1 was always spinning on my turntable, and Side 2 might have been... neglected a little bit, or at least underplayed. I used to wonder if "My Girl" would have been "hit single" material if it were on Side 1, fitting in with those four other chart hits (counting "That's Rock'n'Roll"). But it probably didn't matter too much -- the album got plenty of chart action as it was.

Anyway, thanks again, and welcome again!

--Larry

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Thanks Larry, I look forward to more enlightening discussions!

Yeah, it wasn't unusual for potential singles to be positioned toward the beginning of Side One of an LP, but not a hard rule. I imagine that Eric had strong feeling about the ordering of the songs on all his albums (whether they were honored or not!)

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TOMMY TUNES said:

Wow! Eric Carmen Hollies65, Marvin, and James all getting along so nicely on the same thread.In the words of my Mafia relatives "This is beautiful...real f#$kin' beautiful." Let me join the lovefest and say.........

:lol: you're so funny Tommy... :lol:

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Those backing vocals are about as good as it gets. The bridge part is so tight and creative, it harmonically freaks me out!

The studio time and budget must have been close to unlimited on this album. I hear stories of the huge budget for "Boats..." but none about this album. I hear as much, even more creative bang for the buck on these tracks than on "Boats..." What's the story on time and budget for the Gold Album?

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Actually, the budget for my first solo album was pretty tight. I think we brought it in for about $45,000.

The difference was that the band was mine and completely knew all the parts and had rehearsed for a couple of months before we got to the studio. The arrangements were all finished, the vocal parts were worked out, all that was left was to record the songs.

I took the same band to London to record the "Boats' album with Gus Dudgeon. We had rehearsed the songs for three months. All the parts were worked out, but Gus just couldn't seem to get anything he liked. After a month in London and $60,000 spent, without a single basic track, I put the band on a plane back to Cleveland. it was obvious to me the sessions were going nowhere and I couldn't imagine continuing the daily pummeling the band was taking with no feedback from Gus.

He blamed the problems on the band ( wrong!) and we began again in L.A. with studio musicians and Rich Reising from the original band.

Things continued at a snails pace for months and finally I got Gus to quit after he had blown $300, 0000 on basic tracks.

I became the producer (by default) and finished the record with a couple of good engineers, and then mixed it with the brilliant Val Garay.

The album came in at about $450,000 total, which basically put me in hock to Arista for the rest of my career, until we negotiated a separate deal for everything that came after "Hungry Eyes."

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Hey Eric,

Does that mean that you were able to collect royalties off the Rhino edition?

None of my beeswax, of course, but since you seem to be open about the various aspects of the business dealings...

It IS fascinating. We all love a huge variety of music as well as the emotional roller coaster that songs take us on. To hear the intense drama that goes on behind-the-scenes just adds a new dimension to that appreciation.

I mean, as crappy as some of your experiences were, I think of all the bands who were nowhere near as commercially successful as you were, good artists nevertheless, who got screwed in ways we'll never know—or just lost in the shuffle.

Even though the music business as we knew it is pretty much dead in the water, your cautionary tales are a good education for anybody in ANY business.

Dudgeon didn't give a rat's ass about how much he spent or how much time was wasted because, contractually, he wasn't liable for any of it. Yeah, I know, that's just how it was done in those days, but you could have walked away from it, right? You could have said 'F#%* this, I'll be a cartoonist," or a dishwasher or go back to school and study law...whatever.

What I'm noticing is what we, as artists (I'll include myself in that group) were willing to ignore for a chance at "fame" and "success" and what it cost us. What we were willing to sacrifice.

My "great" album sits on a shelf somewhere in this city, I think. Maybe it was tossed in a dumpster years ago. I don't know. I don't own it. A record company that doesn't really exist anymore owns it. The people that I knew at that old record company have all died (yep) or disappeared. And life goes on...

Thanks for being open and letting others learn from your experiences!

PS: The question re: Rhino still stands...

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