Ignored Obscured Restored
When I was in college there was a running battle between my roommates and me regarding our tastes, or lack thereof, in music. They called me a wimp for liking the art-pop of 10cc and I criticized their lack of musical sophistication because one of their favorite bands was Black Sabbath. Today I better understand there’s room for both — no shaming necessary
One of today’s SotW is “I’m Not in Love,” by 10cc. While this isn’t a typical SotW selection – it was 10cc’s most popular hit – I’ve selected it because it is part of a segue I played a couple of times when I had a radio show at WZBC.
“I’m Not in Love” in anchored by the “heartbeat” that starts the song. But it is most notable for the multitracked vocals that give it its unique character. Wikipedia has a vivid description of the process:
Stewart spent three weeks recording Gouldman, Godley and Creme singing “ahhh” 16 times for each note of the chromatic scale, building up a “choir” of 48 voices for each note of the scale. The main problem facing the band was how to keep the vocal notes going for an infinite length of time, but Creme suggested that they could get around this issue by using tape loops. Stewart created loops of about 12 feet in length by feeding the loop at one end though the tape heads of the stereo recorder in the studio, and at the other end through a capstan roller fixed to the top of a microphone stand, and tensioned the tape. By creating long loops the ‘blip’ caused by the splice in each tape loop could be drowned out by the rest of the backing track, providing that the blips in each loop did not coincide with each other. Having created twelve tape loops for each of the 12 notes of the chromatic scale, Stewart played each loop through a separate channel of the mixing desk. This effectively turned the mixing desk into a musical instrument complete with all the notes of the chromatic scale, which the four members together then “played”, fading up three or four channels at a time to create “chords” for the song’s melody. Stewart had put gaffer’s tape across the bottom of each channel so that it was impossible to completely fade down the tracks for each note, resulting in the constant background hiss of vocals heard throughout the song.
Lyrically, the singer says “I’m not in love” but goes on to make it clear that he couldn’t live without his lover:
I’m not in love, no no, it’s because
I like to see you
But then again
That doesn’t mean you mean that much to me
So if I call you
Don’t make a fuss
Don’t tell your friends about the two of us
Now imagine as the song is ending, and the voices and “heartbeat” swell to a climax, it fades into “She’s Gone” by Hall & Oates.
“She’s Gone” also begins with an instrumental introduction that has a pulsating heartbeat and “oohs” sung in harmony.
“She’s Gone” is one of the best examples of blue eyed soul ever recorded. It is right up there with the Righteous Brothers’ “You’ve Lost that Lovin’ Feeling” and anything by the Rascals.
Much credit should be given to Arif Mardin for his stellar production work and the string and horn arrangements he devised to complement the song. Joe Farrell’s tenor sax solo is a thing of beauty.
Musically, “I’m Not in Love” and “She’s Gone” mix as perfectly as gin and tonic. But thematically they are also similar. “She’s Gone” is also a heartbreak song. The singer is trying to figure out how he’s going to be able to carry on now that it’s clear his woman has left him for good.
Everybody’s high on consolation
Everybody’s trying to tell me what is right for me, yeah
My daddy tried to bore me with a sermon
But it’s plain to see that they can’t comfort me
Sorry, Charlie, for the imposition
I think I got it (got it), I got the strength to carry on, oh yeah
I need a drink and a quick decision
Now it’s up to me, ooh, what will be
If you can find a way to play these two songs together, with a fade out between (I think you can do that on iTunes), you’ll never hear them the same way again!
Enjoy… until next week.