Day 56. A song that is insanely simple/repetitive, but that you consider awesome anyway.
“Werewolves Of London” – Warren Zevon
On some of these posts you really have to think. Even if, when you find the right song, it’s accompanied with an “I-could-have-had-a-V8” forehead slap, shake of the head, and “Of course!” spewing from your lips.
If you think about it, pop music in general is based on the concept of repetition. Repeated chords, repeated phrases, repeated choruses. But there are some that just take it to the extreme. The most simple and repetitive song I know was obvious. It’s essentially 2 notes. Over and over and over and over and over and… The problem is, that song, “The Macarena” sucks. So much so that there aren’t enough formatting choices available here to emphasize the word “sucks.”
Therefore, it doesn’t even come close to qualifying for today’s post, because it’s about the farthest, most polar opposite of “awesome” that you can possibly have. Even Michael Bolton is better. The only thing I can think of in nature that sucks more is a black hole. And even that may be a tie.
Not familiar with a song I’ve mentioned?
Click above to hear samples.
I had been thinking about a good song to use for a while, and not having a ton of luck. Then, I was driving home from a meeting when someone starting telling me about seeing a werewolf with a Chinese menu in his hand.
Cue the forehead slap.
“Werewolves Of London” was released in 1978, and I’ve liked it since I first heard it, which would have been within a couple of years after release at the most. But there’s no question it’s a pretty repetitive song. The main piano riff is eight notes/chords over two measures. (I counted.) Those notes are played 42 times over the course of the song’s 3:26. (I counted.) There are 14 “Ah-ooooo”s. (I… well, you know.) But somehow I never seem to notice.
I think I can bear the repetition because it’s a song where I’m actually focusing on the words. There’s a lot of interesting imagery going on in the story, and I think that saves it. How many songs can boast of having Lon Cheney and the Queen mentioned? (In the same phrase! Twice!) To me it’s a little slice of brilliance from a guy who wrote some seriously bizarre songs. (“Roland The Headless Thompson Gunner,” anyone?)
“Werewolves” isn’t, of course, the only repetitive song I like. So today we have some honorable mentions:
- “Piano Man”—Billy Joel. My friend Greg reminded me to include this one, which is actually pretty simple and repetitive. Even Billy Joel tells the story about how he’ll invariably go into a piano bar and the guy at the piano will see him and start to play the song. Followed by the look of recognition on the piano player’s face when he realizes how ridiculously simple the song is.
- “I Won’t Back Down”—Tom Petty. Another great song where the repetition slides past you a little bit, but the phrase “I won’t back down” is repeated 21 times in 2:58, or once about every 8 seconds for those who don’t want to do the math (or a math challenged).
- “Message In A Bottle”—The Police. While Sting sings the actual words “message in a bottle” only 10 times over the course of the song’s 4:50, he sings “Sending out an S.O.S” twenty-five times in the last 1:22 of the song (once every 3.28 seconds), and “I’ll send an S.O.S” an additional 6 times over the course of the rest of the song. That makes a total of 31 “S.O.S.”s. Or 279 telegraph clicks if you want to look at it that way. Or many, many ships sent to rescue a single guy. I’m thinking there aren’t a lot of telegraph operators or ship captains who like The Police. (Bottle manufacturers, on the other hand…)
There are many others, of course. Tell me your favorites. Let the debate begin!
Incidentally, I wonder if that werewolf ever found Lee Ho Fooks to get his Beef Chow Mein?