Many people have asked me about the band Cheap Trick, and they are mildly shocked when I say I'm not at all familiar. “They're so similar to The Beatles,” they enthuse, “you'd love them!” So the other day I listened to their self-titled 1977 debut album. And indeed they are similar to The Beatles! With this post, I'm launching a blog series on the comparison, starting with 'Mandocello', the ninth track of Cheap Trick.
Here's a structural analysis and transcription:
0:00 Instrumental Intro
0:21 Riff and groove established
0:31 Verse 1 ("I can hear you laughing")
0:48 Verse 2 ("I will never leave you")
1:05 Instrumental Break
1:19 Verse 3 ("the thoughts you're thinking")
1:37 Verse 4 ("I can see you crying")
1:53 Abbreviated Instrumental Break
2:02 Bridge ("Look at me")
2:39 Abbreviated Verse 5 ("I can hear you thinking")
2:52 Verse 6 ("I'm the dream you're dreaming")
3:09 Terminus ("We can go down slowly")
3:37 Guitar Solo
3:47 Concluding Instrumental Verse
4:14 Instrumental Coda
The first similarity I hear to a Beatles song is in the intro (and coda), where a C major chord (shown in red in the graphic below) moves to a CMM7 (shown in blue).
This progression is heard four times in 'Mandocello' - twice during the intro and twice more during the coda. It's a pattern that has been used many times in other songs, including in the verses of George Harrison's 'Something'.
Second, there is another similarity to 'Something': The first instrumental break of 'Mandocello' incorporates the peculiar progression Eb-G-C (bIII-V-I in C major), which is nearly identical to the famous opening riff in 'Something'.
Third and most significantly, each verse of 'Mandocello' features a syncopated 5/4 bar (transformed into a 12/8 bar during the instrumental concluding verse) with a descending bass pattern and arpeggios...
...which bears a striking resemblance to Harrison's other song on Abbey Road, 'Here Comes the Sun'.
Fourth and least significantly, the bridge of 'Mandocello' opens with the lyrics "look at me", which, coincidentally or otherwise, is also the title of a John Lennon song written in 1968 but not released until 1970 on his debut solo album John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band.
The similarities, though modest, are still present - similar melodic contours and lyrical content.
Given how familiar Cheap Trick was with The Beatles' output, it seems too close to be coincidence. I'm guessing this is conscious on Cheap Trick's part.
Fifth and lastly, this "look at me" bridge employs progressive extended tertian vocal harmonies. The first phrase extends only to the 3rd and 5th; the second and third phrases extend to the 7th and 9th; and the fourth and climactic phrase of the section extends to the 11th and 13th.
While not common, extended tertian vocal harmonies are significant in Beatles music, too. A good example can be heard in their 1965 song 'Ticket to Ride', which similarly builds up to a 7th and 9th above the root.
So there are my thoughts on Cheap Trick's 'Mandocello'. I look forward to writing additional blogs comparing and contrasting with The Beatles as I listen through Cheap Trick's catalog.
I've never been a big fan of the band Kiss, but yesterday I discovered a peculiar use of asymmetric rhymes in their hit "C'mon and Love Me", from their 1975 album Dressed to Kill.
First, here's a basic formal and choral analysis, plus a PDF transcription:
0:00 Intro C5(2) Ab5(2) C5(2) Ab5(2)
0:14 Verse 1 C5(4) Ab5(1) Bb5(1) C5(2)
0:29 Verse 2 C5(4) Ab5(1) Bb5(1) C5(2)
0:44 Chorus Eb5(2) Bb5(2) Eb5(2) F5(1) G5(1) C5(2) Ab5(2)
1:06 Verse 3 C5(4) Ab5(1) Bb5(1) C5(2)
1:21 Verse 4 C5(4) Ab5(1) Bb5(1) C5(2)
1:35 Chorus Eb5(2) Bb5(2) Eb5(2) F5(1) G5(1) C5(2) Ab5(2)
1:51 Solo C5(1) Ab5(½) Bb5(½) C5(1) Ab5(½) Bb5(½) C5(1) Ab5(½) Bb5(½) C5(1) Bb5(1)
2:05 Chorus Eb5(2) Bb5(2) Eb5(2) F5(1) G5(1) C5(2) Ab5(2)
2:20 Coda C5(1) Ab5(½) Bb5(½) repeat and fade
The first thing that caught my attention was the chorus, which employs hypermetric asymmetric rhymes. In the first line, the syllable "tate" from "hesitate" rhymes with "wait"; in the second line, "knees" rhymes with "please".
All four syllables occur essentially on beat 3 of their measures (more precisely the & of 2). But "tate" and "knees" (highlighted in blue) fall on even-numbered measures (two and six, respectively), while their rhyming counterparts "wait" and "please" (highlighted in red) fall on odd-numbered measures (three and seven). This discrepancy results in hypermetric asymmetric rhymes. It's as if the music is too impatient to rhyme on hypermetrically symmetric measures (two rhymes with four; six with eight), which reflects the "don't hesitate cuz I just can't wait" lyrics.
Interestingly, the verses also incorporate asymmetric rhymes, though in less obvious and less consistent ways.
Each of the four verses rhymes on the downbeats of the even measures (verse 1: romancer/cancer, verse 2: get me/let me, verse 3: baby/lady, verse 4: nearer/mirror), all shown in blue. But notice how verses 1 and 2 also rhyme on the downbeat of the first full measure (verse 1: dancer, verse 2: met me), shown in light blue, also resulting in hypermetric asymmetry. These additional rhymes conspicuously disappear in the third and fourth verses. Why? The first and second verses (0:14 and 0:29) are both heard BEFORE the first chorus (0:44), while the third and fourth verses (1:06 and 1:21) are both heard AFTER. So the additional rhymes in the initial two verses foreshadow the hypermetric asymmetry of the chorus. And once the chorus has been heard, there is no need to continue foreshadowing it in the subsequent verses.
Aaron Krerowicz, pop music scholar
An informal but highly analytic study of popular music.