Friday Jukebox: Something in 4/4 Time

by Steve

Daryl Hall, one half of soft rock/yacht rock/generally smooth guys Hall and Oates, gets together with King Crimson guitarist Robert Fripp in 1977 and records a weird, sonically challenging album. RCA Records shelve the album, as while it is pretty catchy, it is also strange enough to potentially scare off the legions of Hall and Oates fans. The album, Sacred Songs, is finally released in 1980. And there’s your context.

Something in 4/4 Time, from Sacred Songs, manages to be both incredibly approachable, proper driven rock/pop, and pretty damn odd too. The verses and chorus are immaculately written and arranged, full of hooks and great pop moments yet there is also Fripp’s guitar threatening to pull the song apart. This is particularly the case during the song’s mid-section where everything seems to break down, each part of the song grinding to a halt. Then it finally starts up again – big chorus, big sound. A revival, or maybe a regurgitation. No matter what you do, the pop will out.

There is a brilliant tension between the commercial and experimental. But not just musically. The lyrics are very self-aware, a huge pop act reflecting on the nature of the business and the nature of song-writing. Where do you end and your persona begin? How much do you/can you give away as an artist? Once you’re in the machine, are you ever anything more than a cog?

“You’re selling yourself and it’s a matter of fact

Your love is your life and your life is your act”

You got to write something in 4/4 time, indeed.

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I figured that along with the (potential, occasional) series of beer-y posts, I’d also throw out a song a week (or whenever I can manage/be bothered) with a short narrative. I’m sure I can generally manage 200 or 300 words to accompany a decent song, under the pretense of building some sort of ongoing jukebox-type thing. If nothing else, it seems like a good writing exercise, and a reasonably non-offensive piece of filler. Or you could just listen to the song.

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