Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Yardbirds – "I'm Not Talking" (1965)

The things I say at midnight 
I ain't gonna say in daylight

(Actually, it's not the things I say at midnight that I worry about – it's the things I say at one in the morning, or two in the morning, or sometimes even later.)

The next nine installments of 2 or 3 lines are going to be all about the music.  (That's right – no tales of my misspent youth, no travelogues, no windy philosophizing.)  You think 2 or 3 lines is just a wildly successful pop music blog, and that it is.  But it's also a high-concept piece of performance art.

We'll feature three versions (the original and two covers) of three different songs.  (Three times three is nine, of course.)  One song is going to lead to the next, which will lead to the next . . . until we're back where we're starting – with the Yardbirds.

The original Yardbirds (1963)
The Yardbirds were ahead of their time . . . which wasn't necessarily a good thing for them.

They had five consecutive top-20 singles in the U.S. between April 1965 and June 1966 – all of which still sound great today – but none of their albums cracked the top 50, and they were miles behind the Beatles and Stones in popularity.

A few years later, the rock music landscape looked very different.  Rock groups focused more on albums than singles, and heavier, blues-inspired bands like Cream, the Jeff Beck Group, and especially Led Zeppelin were all the rage.

Cream's lead guitarist, Eric Clapton, got his start as a member of the Yardbirds.  He was succeeded as the band's lead guitarist by Jeff Beck, who was in turn replaced by Jimmy Page – the lead guitarist of Led Zeppelin, which he formed in 1968 when his fellow Yardbirds decided to pack it in.

Beck, Page, and Clapton
Clapton, Page, and Beck are #2, #3, and #5 (respectively) on Rolling Stone's "100 Top Guitarists List."  All three have been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame more than once – Clapton as a member of the Yardbirds, as a member of Cream, and as a solo artist; Beck as a member of the Yardbirds and as a solo artist; and Page as a member of the Yardbirds and as a member of Led Zeppelin.  

"I'm Not Talking" was a cover of of a 1964 song written by jazz pianist/singer Mose Allison.  The Yardbirds' version was the second track on their first studio album, For Your Love

Most of the tracks on that album featured Eric Clapton, who had left the band several months before the album was released in June 1965.  But three of the tracks – including "I'm Not Talking" – were from Jeff Beck's first sessions with the Yardbirds.

"I'm Not Talking" has a devilishly irregular rhythmic structure.  I've spent considerable time trying to count it out, but it's been all for naught.  (If you think you've figured out how to notate it, please tell me what you've come up with – I'd love to see it.)

The next 2 or 3 lines will feature an even more complicated cover of "I'm Not Talking," and then we'll look at the Mose Allison original.  That will lead to a post about a Mose Allison cover of a different song, another cover of that song . . . anyway, we'll eventually get back to the Yardbirds.

So sit back and prepare to enjoy three full weeks of 100% narcissism-free 2 or 3 lines posts . . . promise!

Here's "I'm Not Talking" by the Yardbirds:

Click below to buy the song from Amazon:

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