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6 Classic Songs That Almost Didn’t Exist

Learn about the secret screw ups behind some of the greatest recordings you've ever heard.

by
Kathy Shaidle

Bio

March 29, 2014 - 8:00 am
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Editor’s Note: This article was first published in two parts in February of 2013 as “6 Classic Recordings That Have No Business Existing.” It is being reprinted as part of a new weekend series at PJ Lifestyle collecting and organizing the top 50 best lists. Where will this great piece end up on the list? Reader feedback will be factored in when the PJ Lifestyle Top 50 List Collection is completed in a few months… Click here to see the top 25 so far and to advocate for your favorites in the comments.

Today, when every computer ships with GarageBand-type software, sour notes can be sweetened with Auto Tune, and radio stations broadcast focus-grouped computerized playlists, there seems to be no room for the serendipity — – or sheer incompetence and confusion — that helped create some of the greatest records of all time.

For instance, the ultimate irony of the urban legend that “Louie, Louie” is a “dirty” song (there’s a whole book about it) is that today you can just about make out what the FBI(!) couldn’t back in 1963:

The Kingsmen drummer’s frustrated “f-word” at around the 0:55 mark.

What you can’t hear are the backstories: the flukes, accidents, misunderstandings, coincidences, white lies, and willpower that wrenched classic songs from crazy recording sessions.

What you know about a particular recording can change the way it sounds.

If you’re my age, you’ve heard Boston’s “More Than a Feeling” about 10,000 times, which may be 9,999 times more than you ever wanted.

But you may not realize that lead singer Brad Delp “actually hits those high notes; there’s nothing electronic helping him.”

One of the more remarkable vocal pyrotechnics on an album where Delp’s singing gives Scholz’s guitar work a run for its money is on the passage where Delp’s ever-rising tenor rides into the first notes of the signature guitar solo, a move Boylan says was planned and executed flawlessly on virtually the first take.

You may also not know that Brad Delp committed suicide in 2007.

Now, give that 1976 recording one more listen.

See if it sounds… different.

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All Comments   (7)
All Comments   (7)
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"Tutti frutti/Good booty/If it don't fit, don't force it/You can grease it, make it easy" --- yeah, "salacious" is an understatement in that context.

Nowadays we have Tool singing about "Knuckles deep in the borderline/This will hurt a little but it's something you get used to/Elbow deep in the borderline"… and all I think of is a metaphor for what the 0bama regime is doing to Uncle Sam and the Constitution ;-)
35 weeks ago
35 weeks ago Link To Comment
Whenever Kathy Shaidle writes about music, I'm like ... what planet did she grow up on? This stuff isn't even wrong ... it's just out there. Must be a Canadian thing.
37 weeks ago
37 weeks ago Link To Comment
Re: Boston- "Wow"
37 weeks ago
37 weeks ago Link To Comment
Little Richard Penniman is not from Mississippi. He was born and raised in Macon, GA. Please correct this factual error.
37 weeks ago
37 weeks ago Link To Comment
Amazing that no one in Fleetwood Mac could read or write music.
37 weeks ago
37 weeks ago Link To Comment
Neither could Jimi Hendrix. But he did have perfect pitch --- and if you have active perfect pitch and a 'phonographic' memory, you can pretty much get by without sheet music --- unless it's complex polyphony, and even then. The legendary blind organist Helmut Walcha learned all of J. S. Bach's organ works by having an assistant play right hand, left hand, and pedal for him once each --- then he'd play everything together himself.
35 weeks ago
35 weeks ago Link To Comment
Great column, Kathy. Thanks
37 weeks ago
37 weeks ago Link To Comment
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