brent johnson digs up another lost treasure, this week from Spoon …
It’s one of the most popular terms in music criticism — ‘Beatles-esque.’
Sometimes, all it takes for a song to be slapped with the label is to feature a few woozy chords or a head-bopping backbeat.
‘Black Like Me’ by Spoon isn’t as overt in its nods to the Fab Four. But that’s part of the allure. The splashes of piano wouldn’t be out of place on ‘A Day In The Life.’ The rolling drum fills sound like Ringo’s work on ‘Something.’ And the dramatic shift from the guitar-and-vocal opening to the string-laced crescendo is almost a second cousin to ‘Hey Jude.’
Then again, everything about the track is bewitching — the subtle alterations to the chord progression, the stabs of gruff passion in frontman Britt Daniel’s voice, the cryptic lyrics that seem to use tattered boots as a metaphor for loneliness.
‘Black’ is the closing track on 2007’s Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga, one of many great albums by the Austin, Texas pop-rockers. Their music is proof that in a world ruled by dance beats and plastic pop, there’s still fantastic songwriting out there. Daniel seems to have an endless supply.
Listen to the album version of this track to hear the exciting flourishes. But Daniel’s solo version below is almost as marvelous. After all, the truly great songs are the ones that stand up with just an acoustic guitar.
P.S. — I can’t resist posting another song from Daniel’s backstage performance: ‘Advance Cassette.’ This one’s an example of that rare song that needs only a few notes on a guitar to be catchy.