Recycled Garbage: Spirit, “Fresh Garbage” (1968) and Beck/Orbit/Pink, “Feel Good Time” (2003)

If you were as lucky as I was, you first met this track in the Charlie’s Angels movie Full Throttle as the prelude to bikes bouncing all over a fantastical motocross course—the perfect visual correlate for an ode to chaos and contradiction. The track itself results from chaos master Beck bouncing around in his basement, or wherever he keeps his huge collection of sound scraps and song ideas, on a day when William Orbit visited. It’s cool in a scavenger way, lifting a strange but lovable riff from a 1968 Spirit song, “Fresh Garbage,” giving it a light-hearted acceleration, layering on pop joy with Pink’s vocals soaring in and out and up and down, and managing to not quite squash it with some up-to-date dance beats and some nearly perverse electronica.

“Feel Good Time”

The original “Fresh Garbage” is more seriously cool. In lyrical content, it’s a cutting-edge (for 1968) message song about waste and pollution on the physical plane and maybe on the spiritual plane as well.

“Fresh Garbage”

Look beneath your lid some morning
See those things you didn’t quite consume
The world’s a can for your fresh garbage

Musically, Spirit has worked up an attractive new sound, using electric piano and rock-adapted jazz rhythms to drive a song and sometimes doubling notes from Randy California’s bassy guitar with Mark Andes’ bass lines to produce a more stunned, “underground” riffage. Heavy use of reverb and alarming chord changes, like the dissonant tritones at the end of the “Fresh Garbage” riff (A to E flat, E to B flat), are some other conspicuous “underground” sound qualities. That’s what I thought in 1968.

The “Fresh Garbage” riff suits that song’s theme and the later purposes of Beck/Orbit/Pink and the Charley’s Angels people so well because it goes all over the place—it’s a briskly grooving model of scatteredness. Maybe the best way to show the jumps in it is as follows (read left to right):

……………………………………………………E

………………………………………D

…………………………………………………………C

………………..B

…..A……………………………………………………………………………….A

………………………G……………………………………………………….G

……………………………………………………………………………E

………………………………….D……………………………….D

A

1…………2………..3…………1…………2………..3………..1…………2…………   [the 8 beat pattern]

By 2003, the musically hip have long since taken it for granted that they live in a garbage-heap world, and their game is to make jewelry with choice nuggets from the trash—like Spirit’s “Fresh Garbage.” That “Fresh Garbage” is itself garbage is all good. We want to be able to look under the lid and find everything.

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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.

4 Responses to Recycled Garbage: Spirit, “Fresh Garbage” (1968) and Beck/Orbit/Pink, “Feel Good Time” (2003)

  1. vick2sky says:

    Clearly fresher in ’68. I always thought Spirit was underrated.

  2. Vick Miles says:

    I thought the title came from what the lady said as she slapped the lyricist 🙂

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