Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Song #343 of 9999 - My Little Red Book by Love

Song #343 of 9999 

Title: My Little Red Book
Artist: Love
Year: 1966
Album: Love

To be honest, I don't know much about the LA-based garage rock band Love but I made a note to check out their first album when it was time to write about 1966. After giving it a (virtual) "spin," I can't say I was super-impressed, but a songwriting credit did catch my eye. "My Little Red Book," the opening track to Love's self-titled debut which rollicks noisily along like a train on uneven tracks, was written by Burt Bacharach and Hal David! (What?!) This kind of shook my worldview a little bit. Did Bacharach and David really start out as proto-punk progenitors? A few minutes later, I was listening to this original version by Manfred Mann from the film What's New Pussycat? and suddenly things were becoming clearer.

Bacharach's original vision is bombastic enough with its pulsating eighth notes angrily dotting the verse, our hero vowing with determination to fill the void left by his lover by dating every girl in his "little red book." The chords are quite dissonant: Bb/C followed by a quick B/C turnaround. But by the time the chorus rolls around and our hero realizes he is broken-hearted and "never getting over [her]", we are ensconced in the warmth of major sevenths (Cmaj7-Fmaj7), and all is right in Bacharachia again. (sorry for that)

So what's up with Love's version? Well, for starters, the verses are pitched a 1/2-step higher and the pedal tone is gone. (The chords are simply B and C.) This severely alters the harmony of the song by directing our ears to a different bass note. During the pre-chorus where Bacharach employs traditional sonorities (Am Em Dm Cm | Am Em--maybe some 7ths thrown in there), Love chooses to further exploit the 1/2-step interval of the verse and makes all the chords major (E F E | F G), before somehow managing to play the chorus in the key of the original version (C-F)! It's actually astonishing how well this works, but you may not be surprised to learn that Burt Bacharach was not pleased. Oh well.

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