Category Archives: Ways of Starting

Temple Dogs of Reverb: Grizzly Bear, “While You Wait For The Others” (2009)

In the last decade indie rock has been overwhelmed by heavy reverb as a stylistic choice. This is a bad thing in a rock context when it blunts the sonic attack. If reverb is prominent it needs to be pointing … Continue reading

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Non-Obvious: The Jimi Hendrix Experience, “All Along The Watchtower” (1968)

You’d think the greatest rock cover of all time would have a very memorable groove. The second greatest, Aretha Franklin’s “Respect,” certainly does. So what is the groove of Jimi Hendrix’s “All Along The Watchtower”? Try tapping it on your … Continue reading

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Opening the Secret Door: The Story, “When Two And Two Are Five” (1993)

You might have had something like this fantasy in your childhood home: heading toward your bedroom, you happen to notice for the first time a faint vertical seam between your door and the bathroom door. It occurs to you to … Continue reading

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The Avant Hook: The Byrds, “Eight Miles High” (1966)

New and cool is one thing but avant-garde is something else. If a piece of popular music contained a hook that really sounded and kept on sounding like a challenging, exploratory leap outside the normal—rather an unlikely “if,” under the … Continue reading

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The Greatest Rock Phrasing: Aretha Franklin, “Respect” (1967)

Phrasing is the most essential part of rock and roll.  Seriously. —Morgan Jones Starbucks was playing Tony Bennett the other day—“I Left My Heart In San Francisco”—and after I let myself be engrossed and impressed, I got to remembering how … Continue reading

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How He Got Me On His Side: Chris Whitley, “Living With The Law” (1991)

You may have a lifelong attachment to someone whose music you’ve loved from the moment, I mean the very moment, you started listening.  I’m attached like that to Chris Whitley.  What did he do, right there at the start, to … Continue reading

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Homecoming Hooks: The Byrds, “Dolphin’s Smile” (1967)

Imagine your home is on a balmy Hawaiian bay, and every time you return from a voyage you’re greeted by a pod of dolphins who course and leap alongside your boat. The closest I’ve come to this highly desirable experience … Continue reading

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