#589: Foo Fighters – I’ll Stick Around

Recovering from the emotional exhaustion caused by bandmate Kurt Cobain’s death in 1994, Dave Grohl decided to go into the studio and record some songs that he had written and kept on the down low whilst still performing with Nirvana. It took him about a week to do so in October of the same year, recording all the instrumental parts himself (bar one guitar track) and singing every word from the heart.

The debut album by Foo Fighters has always been my favourite of the band’s….. it’s the most raw and possibly impulsive that Dave Grohl has been in the entirety of the group’s active years. He’s admitted that a lot of the lyrics don’t make sense, and his vocals are double-tracked and lathered with effects in some places because he was insecure about his vocal abilities. But that all adds to its charm.

‘I’ll Stick Around’ was the second single released from the album but was the first Foo Fighters track to get the music video treatment (as can be seen above), allowing everyone to see the drummer from Nirvana’s new band. In it, he, Pat Smear (guitar), Nate Mendel (bass) and William Goldsmith (drums) are confronted by a massive 3D HIV virus. The track itself is meant to be a ferocious scathing attack on Cobain’s widow Courtney Love, who Grohl hadn’t felt the greatest of ‘love’ for up to that point. In fact the HIV virus in the video was initially conceived to be a ‘bloated, charred, inflated girl representing Courtney’ before management got in the way.

The track is a powerful one. From its pummeling opening drum roll, it hardly lets up. Even in the “calmer” verses, there’s a sinister tone to the surrounding guitar and menacing groove before it all builds up into the raucous refrains. I can barely make out what Grohl is singing in those verses, though the message of the track is really summed up in its two most clear lines: “I don’t owe you anything” and “I’ll stick around, and learn that all that came from it”. The latter arriving in the song’s cathartic last minute and repeated to oblivion before it comes to a dramatic close. It’s a great tune.


#588: The Beatles – I’ll Follow the Sun

So it goes that ‘I’ll Follow the Sun’, the fifth track on the Beatles’ second album of 1964 Beatles for Sale, had been one that Paul McCartney had saved up since he was sixteen up to that point. That album was created during a time when the group were constantly touring and barely had any free time to themselves; when they did have that time, it would be used for working and going into the studio and recording more songs. McCartney and Lennon didn’t have as much time to write original material together too, so the former pulled this particular track out to get things moving forward.

‘I’ll Follow the Sun’ sees McCartney writing about the end of one relationship and looking on to the next one with a sense of optimism and wonder, whilst the lady who is left behind doesn’t know what she’s lost until it really hits. It’s a good tune with a great melody as is typical in a lot of McCartney songs. Very mellow with subtle knee-slapping percussion from Ringo Starr and a rhythm guitar in the right channel that has such a smooth tone to it, either played by Harrison or McCartney. In comparison to the ‘shake-it-up-baby-now’ good time music of their previous albums, ‘I’ll Follow the Sun’ – and Beatles for Sale as a whole – signified a change in musical style that would only continue to evolve as the group continued to work together.

Here’s Paul playing the song live with his band in 2005, ’cause why not.

#587: The Replacements – I Will Dare

‘I Will Dare’ is the first track on The Replacements’ third album Let It Be, released in 1984. The album itself was a departure from the straight-up two-minute three-chords punk the band had been making up to that point since forming in ’79, and featured significantly more ambitious musical arrangements and lyrical themes explored by main lyricist and guitar man Paul Westerberg. First time I heard Let It Be I will say I was 18 (may have been 17) and  looking for new albums to hear. Not new as as in what was recent, but new things to stop me listening to the same old same old. It was okay. Five years have passed and I still hold this opinion. It’s cool, though a lot of the songs never really stuck with me.

‘I Will Dare’ though is one of the best album openers ever. Got slick melodies from the get-go and throughout, starting with Westerberg’s jangly two-chord rhythm guitar pattern that leads into the track’s main riff provided by lead guitarist Bob Stinson. Chris Mars’ drums pound throughout, particularly on the verses, and Tommy Stinson does his thing on the bass with that little climbing and falling line he does in the choruses. It’s a strong band performance throughout this whole thing, everyone is on point. Even R.E.M.’s Peter Buck provides a frilly guitar solo which caps it all off. A perfect start, man.

I also think that the music is the perfect backdrop to the song’s lyrics – a older man has a hush-hush relationship with a younger woman and is ready to take on anything if she’s willing to do the same. I can always visualize some sort of music video set in nighttime 80s New York with two people acting as the couple and the band singing somewhere unrelated. The lyrics aren’t even that descriptive, kind of repetitive too, but conjures up a lot of imagery.

Even Let It Be as an album didn’t do so much for me, I still went through a small ‘Replacements’ phase….. It was around the time that the band was to play live on American television in the same studio where they had been banned from playing since 1986, after that ‘infamous’ appearance on Saturday Night Live. Came to realise that in their prime, they were a force to be reckoned with. I prefer a lot of their live performances to their studio cuts though. Below are some of my favourites, including the aforementioned SNL show if you’ve never seen it. Take care.

#586: The Beatles – I Will

Out of all the love songs The Beatles ever did – and they wrote a lot of those – there’s something about ‘I Will’ that strikes home more than any other. No loud electric guitars are present, nor can any drums by Ringo Starr be heard in the sub-two minutes the tack lasts for. Instead, it’s an acoustic jam with bongos and cymbals and Paul performing the song’s ‘bass’ with his mouth.

It’s all very cutesy, But it comes from a pure place. John and Paul could always write a good song about love out the wazoo during the Beatle years – at least when they properly wrote songs together – though here it seems that Paul has really found the one, assuming that the song is about a lady, and that’s cool.

Initially I don’t think I really cared for this track that much when I first heard it. Must have been about seven/getting to eight years ago now. It comes near the end of the first CD of The Beatles and there are so many memorable tracks that precede it…. it just didn’t make too much of an impression. Couldn’t tell you when/where/how it happened, though I must have heard it one day and it all clicked. It’s a good melody, you can’t deny it.

#585: The Beatles – I Want to Tell You

The fifth Beatles entry so far in the “I”‘s. Told you yesterday, there’s more to come still. Though in comparison to yesterday, with ‘I Want to Hold Your Hand’ being one of those diamond compositions written by the iconic pairing of Lennon/McCartney, ‘I Want to Tell You’ was written by the band’s lead guitarist George Harrison. The upload above has very poor audio quality, clearly to avoid copyright infringment, so please… try and listen to it on a streaming service or something. Damn Apple Corps.

Revolver, the album on which the track can be found, is my favourite Beatles album. It’s a ten out of ten. Every song on there is great. Well, ‘Yellow Submarine’ is okay. And it also saw the three main songwriters have somewhat of an equal share of the tracklisting with Harrison having three songs allowed on there, one of them being ‘Taxman’ which starts the whole thing off – that’s for another time.

For about two years straight ‘I Want to Tell You’ was always on in my head. Upon hearing Revolver for the first time it was the song that I always kept on repeating endlessly. So much so that it was my most played song in my iTunes library for about two years. It’s not the one on the album that you would find many people talk about, compared to ‘Eleanor Rigby’ or ‘Tomorrow Never Knows’, though for me it always had that quality that gave it that edge.

The excitement is all set up in those opening fifteen seconds or so. The fade-in with the hanging guitar line reels you in, the first striking piano chord along with Ringo’s snare hits keeps you still, the shaking of maracas somehow build up this sense of anticipation for what’s to follow…. and what does follow is a bouncy joint about confusion and errors in communication when in a relationship.

Harrison along with Lennon and McCartney sound like they’re having a good time in the studio just because of their vocal performances, when the latter two come in for their harmonies they sound on form, especially during the ending when Paul goes all crazy on the higher notes. It’s very upbeat, I sang along from ages 14-16… it’s good to put on every now and then.

#584: The Beatles – I Want to Hold Your Hand

Been almost a month since I was last here…. I’m sorry. Can’t say I’ve tried to keep to my earlier statement of doing a blog at least every Sunday. The posts will arrive in due time. Just been suffering from a lack of motivation. Not in a bad way, it’s just work. Weekends have really been reserved for laying down and sleeping.

Recently I decided to listen to all the songs on my phone in alphabetical order during my morning/evening commutes. Only because the shuffle system on iPhones is very poor. In doing so I’ve only properly realised how many songs by The Beatles (that I personally enjoy) begin with the letter ‘I’. There’s a lot of them to come in this ‘I’ series. ‘I Want to Hold Your Hand’ was the hit that made the four lads huge in the USA, and pretty much everywhere else.

There are some days when I listen to this thing and think it’s just too sappy. The lyrics are too simple and on the nose…. A song like this would never be taken seriously in today’s musical climate. Though the majority it’s just like….. fuck that. This song’s great for all of those reasons. John Lennon and Paul McCartney sing their chests out on this one, singing in unison and in perfect harmony…. The musicality between the four of them is just wild and thrilling but tight and controlled. It rocks without trying too hard. It’s just a good pop song, it can’t be denied.

Again, when it comes to The Beatles and YouTube – it’s very hard to find their official stuff because their record label always takes their music down when you try and upload it. There is an actual video for it; it’s not up just yet. Still, below’s the performance taken from the Ed Sullivan show when John, Paul, George and Ringo appeared on American television for the first time and owned it.

#583: Bloc Party – I Still Remember

‘I Still Remember’ is the ninth track on Bloc Party’s second album A Weekend in the City, released in 2007, and was the LP’s second single. The album was the first one of theirs I ever got, for Christmas 2007 or my 13th birthday either one of the two, and was the special edition that included ‘Flux‘ in the tracklisting. I liked the song upon seeing its video on MTV2 UK for the first time, and my opinion on it hasn’t really changed – still sounds good now as it did back then. Crazy that it’s been eleven years, really.

Listening to this track now takes me back to about ten years ago when I was just about getting into first year of secondary school. Or at least nearing the end of it. Mainly because it was during those times that the music video for it was shown on TV quite frequently. Back then YouTube was still a baby in terms of being a company, and if a band released the video for their new song – you would actually have to wait and see it instead of having it ready at your fingertips.

The track has lead singer Kele Okereke reminiscing about good times and missed opportunities from his school days. Anyone who is a big fan of the guy and has looked on his Wikipedia page can find that he went to Ilford County High School. No lies, that’s the same secondary school I went to. Of course it was at different times, although I’ve always had the feeling that the person he’s singing about would have been someone he was friends with when he went there. Not just because it’s an all boys school, but because, if you watch the video closely you’ll notice that the train number all the action takes place in is ‘247’. A bus route with the same number runs through Barkingside High Street, which is pretty much right next to the school.

Though that’s just my theory. It’s probably a bit of a personal song for him so we’ll let it lie.