Friday, September 25, 2009

Blind Melon's "Change", A Perfect Song

I was having a great though all-too-brief conversation with Keifus at his blog (visit often) about this song. Here's the video. (Weird, I know. Imagine that.) I wasn't sure how to format/present this post, so I think I'll do it in bullet points. I miss that bit.

-It only has 3 chords. Keifus and I got into a knock down drag out fight about the fact that technically one could assert that it actually has 5 chords, if you count the open A9 and the Asus. While Keifus is ultimately correct, if you're gonna nitpick, most guitar players would agree that A, A9 and Asus are generally considered 1 chord. The reasoning behind this, if I'm not mistaken, is that the sus and 9 version of the chord, used the way Hoon does in this song, are more melodically driven than chord driven. (Note: It wasn't much of a knock down drag out fight, as you might imagine. More like: "Oh. Good point.")

-There are 2 things instrumentally about this song that, were either omitted, would render the song imperfect.

1.) The addition of the mandolin part (which, ironically I suppose, really underscores the Asus/A9 beautifully)

2.) The bass player plays a double bass

I don't suspect it's a double bass because of the video. It has to be. Note the tone and timbre of the bass sound. Reminds me of this. (That's the end vamp from Paul Simon's "50 Ways To Leave Your Lover". Go to about 2 minutes into the video. And yes, they're playing it in 7/4 time.)

-As much as we would like it to be sometimes, life isn't a movie. But if mine were (which it is), this would be the soundtrack to this particular act of my life-movie.

-There are 2 things which every perfect song has to have in order to be perfect: melancholy and joyfulness. This song has them in spades. (And clubs.)

-The cited lyrics quote the second verse as ending this way:

"But I know we all can't stay here forever

So I want to write my words on the face of today

And then they'll paint it."

But I swear, since I first heard this song way back in '94, that he sings:

"Before they paint it."

I think I'm right. But it is odd because that particular quote is on his gravestone. So I might be wrong.

-The entry of the slide guitar and the drums after the 1st verse is highly reminiscent of The Who's "Behind Blue Eyes". Though the drummer doesn't drop from 4 stories on the kick drum the way Moon did, the effect is similar. Further, I wish the guitar solo after verse 2 had used the same slide guitar. More perfect.

-Blind Melon, I thought, was always a departure from the grunge sound, consciously. They were kind of a jam band, which, I think, accounts for the utter funkiness of the bass lines, and the drummer's freewheeling play between the snare and cymbal bell off the beat toward the end of the guitar solo. Really great stuff.

-If I live in Iowa this time next year, today I'd have driven up to grampa's secret river/pond/lake stash in Minnesota (if I could find it) and fish for bullhead.

-I'll admit that the lyrics verge on the trite side, but because they just walk to the edge and yet don't jump, and the fact that they're delivered with an honest and almost innocent earnestness, I'll let them pass. (Read somewhere that the 1st line of the song came to Shannon after he woke up on his mom's couch after a 3-day coke binge.)

The late '80s and early '90s were good years for me. Having a renaissance of truly great rock --- Alice In Chains, Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, among others -- that's just ham gravy on the mashed potatoes.


Schmutzie said...

The first time I heard No Rain, which was also the first time I'd ever heard of the band, it occurred to me that Blind Melon had the kind of sound that would stand the test of time. If Hoon had kept his stuff together, they'd have gone huge. I hear they're trying to reform with a new singer, but that's a tall order.

I just want someone to say to me Oh Oh Oh Oh,
I'll always be there when you wake.

I really liked those lines.

Schmutzie said...

Oh and I'm going with 3 chords. A-G-D.

If you want to count the Asus2 & Asus4 as separate chords, you'll have to count Gsus2 and Gsus4 as two more.

Screw that noise!

Isonomist said...

Just wanted to say I'm glad I found you guys, even if was BOTF that did it.

artandsoul said...

I'll second that.

Keifus said...

I don't know if I mentioned (remembered) it earlier, but I did see Blind Melon perform at "Woodstock 94." I think I enjoyed the set, but I still can't remember any tunes they played. I do recall that the dude wore a dress, was a bit off his nut, which is a shame. (Most of that weekend I was mostly concentrating on nursing a buzz and a sprained knee.)

I can see what you mean about that sort of barely restrained energy in the underneath sections. It sure sounds a lot like 1994 though (the Losing-My-Religion video direction didn't help), which isn't a bad thing except that it's already so much later than that. No Rain was a bit more composed than most of the other tracks, and frankly, I don't know if it served them well as a breakout hit--such a strange way to be typecast. Change is a much better tune.

The only reason I knew that there was 3.75 chords in there is because I looked it up. Sure ain't my brilliant ear and extensive musical knowledge, that's fershure. I really did need a pencil.

And thanks for that. I've heard that Keifus's blog is temporarily stalled as the author struggles to find a way to be big-picture positive.

switters said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
switters said...

It's just that I'd kind of forgotten about the song, if you can believe that. It was '94. I'd just failed spectacularly out the Ph.D. program at Vanderbilt. I came back home to New Carlisle, got a job at a nursery farm. Lived in my brother's farmhouse for awhile. Then moved to Colorado.

I was only reminded of the song because it showed up in an episode of entourage. And it hit me right in the gut. I started sobbing uncontrollably because of the vividness of the memories it brought back. My brother Al and I used to play it (I had turned him onto to Blind Melon). When we played it for my dad, being obviously clueless of the alt rock movement, he said, "Wow. That's a great song. Who sings that?" "Blind Melon." "Who's that?" "Never mind."

Shannon was so troubled. Kurt had just left us. So I guess Shannon had to go. Then Layne Staley. Good thing Chris Cornell cleaned up his act, because he sounds better than ever.

So, really, what I'm saying is, literally, "Good times. Good times."

Keifus said...

Can't disagree with that sentiment.