Immortal Clatter: The Young Rascals, “It’s Wonderful” (1967)

Kayak boulders cropped

This isn’t the best Rascals song.  We needn’t go into why.  Well, the squirm factor is high in the lyrics (at the time, it may have seemed a refreshingly earnest message from rock star to audience).  And I’m concerned that Dino Danelli’s kick-heavy drum part in the verse is too much like what he does in “Lonely Too Long” and “Come On Up” and not well suited to this song, much as I love that booming sound in general.  At least it provides contrast with the chorus.

Anyway, he is redeemed (if he needs redeeming) in the rackety part he plays in the instrumental bridge, which starts thick and intensifies (with a bit of sound processing) till it breaks up into jagged shards, unable to contain its accumulated energy—but really climaxing quite coherently (in what could be a drumline figure, something like  ratatat TAT tataTATatat TAT tat) and then resuming the verse rhythm with total confidence.  It’s like bouncing off boulders on a violent canoe run with a perfect exit at the bottom, paddles back in the water.  And now the verse drum pattern works so well I don’t know how I could ever have questioned it.

“It’s Wonderful” bridge

I’ve doted on this drum moment since 1967 and I think now the reason must be metaphysical and ethical:  as it intensifies, it takes me to the border of excessive, uncontrollable turbulence and into acute danger of getting everything I wish for in the way of power (a Sorcerer’s Apprentice situation!)—but I survive every time, reflecting gratefully that the turbulence has a form and will always be there in a Rascals record.


About Steve Smith

Professor of Philosophy & Religious Studies and Director of Film Studies at Millsaps College
This entry was posted in Arrangements and Sounds, Rock Aesthetics and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Immortal Clatter: The Young Rascals, “It’s Wonderful” (1967)

  1. J.P. Goldman says:

    Never heard this Rascals single before subscribing to SiriuxXM, where the 60s on 6 plays it every once in a long while. Did it receive any airplay in ’67?

  2. Steve Smith says:

    Oh yes, Billboard #20 in 1968.

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