(Saturday Night And) Sunday Morning

July 7, 2009 8:25 AM

The Gorgonzola & Ham Stone Gas 12" remix

Everyone seems to be listing the instrumentation etc:
Yamaha AW2400
Korg TP2
Korg Triton LE
Fender Stratocaster
Gibson ES335
Fender Super Champ
AKG C4050B
Rode K2
Newcastle Brown Ale
Wells' Bombardier Ale
Drum hand-rolling tobacco
Camel Regular (filters are for girls...)

And yes, the synth riff is a steal from The La's "There She Goes" - which itself arguably owes not a little to "There She Goes Again" on the VU+N album. I am therefore merely returning something to it's rightful owner..........how's that for post-rationalisation?

posted by MajorDundee (24 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

Bloody hell, you weren't joking. Remarkably well done. Your stuff always sounds very well produced. And that Bowie vibrato in the voice fits this Eurodisco thing. Great version all around.
posted by micayetoca at 9:02 AM on July 7, 2009

Also: you forgot the velvetunderground tag. (and man, what I would do for a bag of Drum tobacco!)
posted by micayetoca at 9:06 AM on July 7, 2009

Hah, this is great. I'm still trying to get VU+N settled in my mind from daily listens, so I feel like I"m playing catchup even being able to appreciate what people are doing with their covers.

There's that little ii->IV/IV thing in this just like in the chorus of Femme Fatale, and I'm thinking I might need to find a way to exploit that in my cover of the latter.
posted by cortex at 9:24 AM on July 7, 2009

cortex - ii->IV/IV ?? I'm completely musically illiterate - can you explain that?
posted by MajorDundee at 9:38 AM on July 7, 2009

So here's the literal chord structure as you've put it down here, grabbing from about 2:11 into the song:
F             Bb
Watch out the world's behind you
F               Bb
There's always someone around
Who will call
                Eb          C
It's nothing at all.

F        Bb
Sunday morning...
The bit I'm talking about is that Gm->Eb->C move. What's going on harmonically there is that the song (which is in F major) first moves to the ii (that is, the minor second) chord of the key, which, since the second tone in the F major scale is a g, is G minor.

Mini music theory shorthand lesson 1: In general music theory markup, chords in a given key are generally given a roman numeral to reference the degree [read: note on the scale] of the key in which said chord is being played, and are rendered in upper case (e.g. III, IV, VI) if it's a major chord and in lower case (e.g. ii, v, vii) if it's a minor chord.

There's additional markup for all kinds of other modifications to the chord in terms of extra tonal notes or the way in which the chord is voiced (actual root as the base of the chord vs an "inversion" where the third or the fifth of the chord is actually the lowest note voiced), but that's farther than this explanation needs to go. The roman-numeral-plus-case-marking is the meat and potatoes info here.

A really common move in western music is to go from the ii (the minor second chord) to the V (the major fifth, or the "dominant"), because it's a real satisfying move harmonically and resolves some of the tension that the ii tends to lend. Moving from the V back to the I (the tonic, the root chord of the key) often follows, because it resolves the new tension of the big powerful-sounding V.

But! So!

That's not what VU did here. Instead of going from the ii to the V, they took the scenic route, and drove right into a different goddam key for a second.

The Gm is the ii; the Eb, then, is that IV/IV that I mentioned. So what the hell is a IV/IV?

Theory shorthand lesson number 2: since a harmonization (theory term for, basically, "a chord chart") generally proceeds in terms of a given base key of a song, you need some way to indicate when, structurally speaking, there's a key change, because theory is in part about identifying deep structures rather than just superficially naming chords.

Which is why I didn't just call the Eb a, like, VII-flat and have done with it. Sure, superficially, Eb is a major triad based on the flatted seventh degree of the F major scale, but there's something more interesting going on here: we can look at the context in which the chord appears and describe it as the major fourth chord (the IV) of F major's relative-fourth key.

That is, the IV of F major is Bb (most of Sunday Morning is just F and Bb, in fact, back and forth). So the IV of F is Bb, and if you look at that Bb major scale, Eb is the IV of that key. Eb, then, is the fourth of the fourth, or the IV/IV.

I said we can look at the context in which that Eb appears, and this is that context: the song proceeds from the second line in the excerpt above ("There's always someone around...") from F to Bb, which is a I->IV in F. Then it goes to Gm, so the chain is now I->IV->ii in F. Then to Eb, which is, oops, needle scratching the record, I->IV->ii->???, before heading on to C, which is the familiar V of F. That whole chain:


Now let's pretend we've been in Bb the whole time:

F is the V of Bb; Bb is simply the I, the tonic, the root chord, of Bb; Gm is the vi (the minor sixth) of Bb; Eb, our ??? chord, is the IV of Bb; and (and here's the whammy) the C is the II major second chord of Bb, which for these purposes is the new ???, because a major second chord is not a "natural" member of a normal major scale. More on that in a second, but let's rewrite the chain in the key of Bb:


Why is that major second a ??? chord here? (??? is not theory terminology, fwiw, I'm just trying to make it clear what I'm referring to.) Because a major second chord—a major triad based on the second degree of a scale—contains a note that is not found on the major scale: the sharp, rather than natural, fourth degree of the scale. For example, the major second of C major is a D chord, which is composed of the three notes D, F#, and A. F# is notably note a note on the C major scale.

So here's where we are: we've got two different keys in which we could in very simple terms describe most of what's going on with F->Bb->Gm->Eb->C, but in both cases we've got a speedbump where we go ??? at one point. We can deal with that by analyzing the song over that region as temporarily changing key.

Then we can recognize that key change implicitly by marking up those chords that are unambiguously outside of the base key with an identifier of what the new temporary key is. Hence IV/IV for our Eb, because that chord is no-way, no-how part of F major.

We could also be more explicit about the chords surrounding the Eb by marking them up as well, but since it's such a short change-and-return there's not a whole lot of reason to do so if everybody knows what's going on.

However, most people aren't theory dorks and so don't necessarily know what's going on, which is perfectly fine until some jackass like me starts throwing around shorthand without thinking about it. And here we are!

Here's an example of a more explicit markup of the excerpt above, trying to show the whole key-change-and-back region of ambiguity explicitly in parallel for both the root key (which is the key were "actually" in for almost all ov it) and the IV to which we briefly and unambiguously change for that Eb chord but which shares some ambiguous harmonic space with the root key for the chords leading up to the Eb as well. I'm hoping this might help to denote where things start easing toward the momentary change into the key of Bb and back.
F:  I           IV
Bb: ...
Watch out the world's behind you
F:  I            IV
Bb: V            I
There's always someone around
F:        ii
Bb:      vi
Who will call
F:             IV/IV       V
Bb:            IV          V/V
It's nothing at all.
F: I      IV
Bb: ...
Sunday morning...

posted by cortex at 10:50 AM on July 7, 2009 [3 favorites]

The really short version of all that above is that the chordal move from Gm->Eb->C takes a quick jaunt out of the basic chords of the key the song is in to give us a chord from a closely-related key, which is a slightly jarring thing to do in pop music and gives it a little frisson of "ooh, didn't see THAT coming, didja?" when it happens.
posted by cortex at 10:53 AM on July 7, 2009

for another example of what cortex is talking about see the intro to proud mary
posted by mexican at 11:03 AM on July 7, 2009 [1 favorite]

also, awesome cover. the reason i wasn't excited about covering this song was because i couldn't think of doing anything other than a straight cover. i like this kind of thing much better.
posted by mexican at 11:05 AM on July 7, 2009

And to bring the whole thing back around to my initial comment, this same thing happens in Femme Fatale, with the couplet at the end of the chorus:
                    I                       IV
She's just a little tease (she's a femme fatale)

See the way she walks

                 IV/IV   V
Hear the way she talks
Whether you want to call this an indictment of Reed's lack of harmonic range or praise it as clever deployment of a harmonic echo across the larger arc of the album is entirely up to you.
posted by cortex at 11:09 AM on July 7, 2009

HHhhhhhhmmmmmmm I think I'll stick to playing by ear! From my ignorant perspective, there is nothing particularly clever about any of the chord changes in this song - in fact to my untrained ears they're entirely predictable and, frankly, pretty yawn-inducing. I really don't like the way the chords resolve in that kind of slightly Salvation Army way (can't explain that). It tends to sound to me a bit like a demonstration song from Sid Boggis's "Learn To Play Guitar In Two Hours Or Your Money Back".

Don't take that the wrong way guys. And thank you very much indeed Cortex for taking the time to explain what's going on here in technical terms. I'd be interested in what, in theory, I'm doing in - I think - the second go round of the hook where I threw in a couple of "jazzy" chords. I've no idea what they are, but one of them is a sort of major shape - say a G major - where I leave the A string barred (i.e. I don't complete the major shape, and effectively only finger two strings with the rest barred) - it's a chord I nicked from Steely Dan who use it a lot - often in an upward or downward progression.

Truth is when Flapjax allocated me this one my heart sank - when I play the album I always skip this one and "The Black Angel". Sunday Morning does sweet-fuck-all for me harmonically or emotionally or lyrically. Being absolutely blunt - I think it's crap! Just as well - meant I could do a total demolition job without turning a hair!
posted by MajorDundee at 12:27 PM on July 7, 2009

HHhhhhhhmmmmmmm I think I'll stick to playing by ear!

Heh. I mostly do too, really. I only learned formal theory in college, after having developed my ear sense for a decade or so of my childhood. It's really nice being able to put names to this stuff and have a system of communicating arbitrary and sometimes complicated ideas about structure to other people who speak the language, and so in that sense I'm very thankful to have gotten acclimated with the subject, but it's got very, very little to do with how I write most of the time.

From my ignorant perspective, there is nothing particularly clever about any of the chord changes in this song - in fact to my untrained ears they're entirely predictable and, frankly, pretty yawn-inducing.

Heh. It's not an ignorant perspective: as "surprising" chordal moves go, this one is just about the most obvious and done one there is. It's clever and tired at the same time, and compared to truly outre harmonic constructions it's very pedestrian. I'll say that the only thing that has struck me as particularly interesting in a harmonic sense on VU+N so far is Black Angel, and even that's more the arrangement than the fundamental harmonic structure itself.

But if you look at western music in terms of, say, a kind of hierarchy of harmonic complexity, it's a rung or two up from what's involved in "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star", and provides at least a challenge to any too-simplistic theoretical model of harmonic theory.
posted by cortex at 12:59 PM on July 7, 2009

I've no idea what they are, but one of them is a sort of major shape - say a G major - where I leave the A string barred (i.e. I don't complete the major shape, and effectively only finger two strings with the rest barred)

Can you lay out the actual fingering for those chords? I'm hearing what sounds like a Fsus2 or something like that, but having a hard time picking it out of the mix.
posted by cortex at 1:04 PM on July 7, 2009

cortex - I'm a theory geek myself and even despite it being something you learn the first week of college level harmony studies it was cool to see how you explained it.

Major - Killer production

AFAIK that "Steely Dan" chord could have multiple definitions depending on function. My first impression was Cmaj7(sus2)/G. It could also just be a dense voicing of a Gsus4.
posted by dagosto at 1:36 PM on July 7, 2009

ok - I'll try to lay it out thus (from bottom string to top):

o - this is (I think) an F - the chord is played around the 8th fret
xxo - C?
xo - E?
o - G?
o - C?

The "x's" are not played, the "o's" are.

Actually this chord is played in the line "It's all the streets you crossed.." at about 2.07

Preceding that chord is another I'd like to know the identity of - played around the fifth fret at about 2.05:

xxo - this is (again at a guess) an A
o - C?
xo - an F?
o - this is an open high E (hey, I know that one!)

Naturally, these have to be interpreted in light of what the bass is doing.
posted by MajorDundee at 3:31 PM on July 7, 2009

I recently "turned on" one of my co-workers to Metafilter and mentioned to him that after a few years of lurking I felt like I had a very well rounded education...

Threads like this are exactly why, CORTEX!

MajorDundee, this is right on. Your production is great as usual, and I'm really enjoying your vocal. You brought a lot to the table with this and I'm feeling every bit of it!
posted by snsranch at 7:01 PM on July 7, 2009

Holy hell, Major. When did you fuse with Cher?

I kid...it's pretty seriously great--and not at all a style I'd expect from you. Good on ya!
posted by askmeaboutLOOM at 8:54 PM on July 7, 2009

Also, cortex, nice theory dissertation. I think the function of what seems like a IV/IV or a weird V/VI or whatever may be, as dagosto described it, a "steely dan" chord--as much as I hate its existence, I think it's a V13.
posted by askmeaboutLOOM at 9:22 PM on July 7, 2009

This is fantastic. The way the jangly guitars mesh with the synths and drums, it almost has a Talking Heads vibe to it.
posted by Jon_Evil at 9:32 PM on July 7, 2009

Thanks to all! On fresh listen, I think I could have done the vocal a lot better. Little bit of a strain in places (right at the top of my range) and it shows I think. Also some of the punch-ins are pretty rough (particulary towards the end), but by then I was getting a little bored and just wanted it off the workbench. Should have faded out at about 3.30 - 4.00 as well - it's not really going anywhere from there on in. A load of fun doing it though - I was talking to LOOM the other day about getting out of my MOR comfort zone, and I think I've learned a big lesson with this one. Next up - a version of Venus In Furs (which is the one I really wanted to have a go at.....). Need to stop this covers thang soon though - my own material is beginning to take a back seat!
posted by MajorDundee at 3:02 AM on July 8, 2009

Fusing with Cher......yuck.......she has more recycled parts than...er...my cover of Sunday Morning. Heh.
posted by MajorDundee at 3:11 AM on July 8, 2009 [1 favorite]

Should have faded out at about 3.30 - 4.00

But that would have killed the eurodisco 12" feel, which any true Cher-fused artist would require.
posted by man vs sun at 6:54 AM on July 8, 2009

I laughed and then laughed, and then was like, "...wait, this is SO GOOD!"
posted by not_on_display at 10:23 PM on July 8, 2009

Stoooooone gas, baby!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 3:09 AM on July 12, 2009

This is pretty appealing, actually. I was thinking Yaz more than Cher.

I love the "Hit it!"s and the out-of-order count-offs and the jangly little guitar, and especially the part where the synths come back in at 4:22.
posted by Karlos the Jackal at 12:56 AM on July 14, 2009

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