Aug 10, 2018

She Was Good

22 comments

Edited: Sep 18, 2018

 

movie: matt kerns

 

She Was Good

 

Words & Music: Walter Becker

1992/2018: Zeon Music LLC

 

 

Hey there Janie girl

You’re looking good all over

Sashaying your way on down that luggage line

Yes a sight beyond compare

Lookin at you standing there

So glad and happy just to be a friend of mine

 

Jumping in your little white car

Screaming down the I-280

There’s that Golden Gate

Shining like a string of diamonds

This Bay City just rolls on and on and on

 

That’s right — you told me twice

You want to pick up something nice

To help this evening last way past the dawn

 

Hang a left at Chinatown

Ready for the 3-flight walk-up

Maybe I just rest my eyes on you a while

Dressed up like you are

In nothing but your Sunday smile

 

Good — she was good — good for nothing

Nothing but that one thing, as far as I could tell

That was enough to believe in

And all else is forgotten

Maybe just as well.

 

And I know Janie girl

This whole world’s gone crazy

When the cops pick up a fine young thing like you

Yes I go your bail

The check is in the mail

You’ll find my heart out in that mailbox too

 

Special delivery girl so

Handle it nice and easy

You don’t want to meet my mom

You don’t want to have my baby

You just want to kick and scratch

And party all night long

 

What we got is God’s own buzz

Guess that’s all it ever was

Love is only skin deep girl

So how could we go wrong

 

Better than it is right now

Not in a month of Sundays

This could be our shining hour I suppose

So come on girl let’s get it on

Before this bathtub overflows

 

Good — she was good — good for nothing

Only just her bad self

Was all I’d ever know

That was a lot to hold on to

Hard enough to handle

But harder to let go

 

Hey now, hey now, hey now, hey now, hey now baby

Hey now, hey now, hey now, hey now, hey now baby

Aug 10, 2018Edited: Aug 10, 2018

This track is a mystery, and in solving it, your guess will be as good as mine

 

Walter mentioned once or twice , when talking about

musical cliches and how we identify the writer of a song, that he sometimes thought about writing a set of songs that mimicked the musical styles of the day (hey, not all of his concepts were winners; he wanted to do an album of "scary children's songs", too). His argument was that this mimicking was generally easy to do, and that you could do it in a subtle way; you weren't limited to just lifting riffs . He said that to illustrate, he had written a song way back in the early 90s, meant to evoke what he thought was an overexposed musical act of the time-- an act that was a bit too popular among his friends and family for his comfort. He told me the act. But did he tell me the name of his song ? He did not. Did he play it for me? He did not. Does the engineer David Russell remember WB saying any such thing about this track? He does not.

 

(Dave does however point out that Walter's guitar in the outro has a clean, “pre Bogner/ Mesa Maverick tube amp rediscovery” sound, and indeed it does)

 

I was only reminded of the mimic conversations when I came across an early track that I had never heard before, that was a distinctly unique style for Walter. "Let me put it this way doll"; it doesn't sound at all like Walter. But it did put me immediately in mind of that same overexposed musical act of the late '80s. So as for me, I'm pretty sure this was his imitation track.

 

But why don't you take a listen, and see what you think? Post your honest first opinion below. If a trend emerges toward the act he named to me, we can be more sure— but never certain — this was his “imitation track”

 

Heard by by very few until now.

 

Aug 10, 2018

It seems that “Let me put it this way doll” was used in “Slang Of Ages”.

 

Let me put it this way doll And I know it's getting late I can tell from the planes of your face That you're from out of state

Aug 10, 2018

I can’t say that right off the bat it reminds me of any particular musical act of that era, but boy does it sound great and fits in perfectly to my ears with the other music he was creating at that time. It’s always so nice to hear his voice and beautiful guitar work on something new. Made my day, thank you D-Mod!

Aug 10, 2018

So who is the group he is supposed to be aping? I don't remember any "Big" groups in the late 80's but I was listening to a lot of Independent stuff at that point and had tuned my nose up at the major labels mostly till they signed Husker Du and the Replacements.

Aug 10, 2018Edited: Aug 10, 2018

Yeah...I’m stumped on who the group is he’s imitating. I’m just hearing “Walter.“ And I hate that the guitar on the fade doesn’t last forever.  

Aug 10, 2018

I am not hearing any immediate connection to whatever he might be imitating. I do like the song though! Cool rhythmic thing going on here, and that chorus is such a great resolving contrast from the rest of the song. Catchy.

Aug 10, 2018

Love the song, especially the sweet guitar solo at the end! Like others have said before me, nothing jumps-out at me to whom it could be aping. I'm wracking my brain and actually did a search of the biggest 80's performers, in case I was forgetting someone, but nothing gelled. Will keep listening, obviously, and perhaps I'll have an "A-Ha" moment...wait...was it them? :-)

Aug 10, 2018

1. thank you

2. thank you

3. chops

4. I don't know the focus of the 'tribute' either and don't want to know until it hits me like a tonne of ticks.

5. Thank you.

6. tone

Aug 10, 2018

This sounds like pure Walter to me, but I also get something of a Prince vibe from it. I wish that guitar outro went on longer!

Aug 10, 2018

Interesting that you thought of Prince because I remember hearing the same thing about DF’s Kamakiriad when it came out around that same time. I think his singing on Trans Island Skyway reminded some of Prince. Since Walter was involved with that record, maybe there’s something to your idea.

Aug 10, 2018

I just re-listened to "Trans-Island Skyway" with that in mind. Even if it's not a direct riff on Prince, it sure sounds like it shares some DNA.

Aug 10, 2018

Quick takes, first impression (not thinking what it might actually be modeled after).

 

Seeing the song title in the announcement immediately thought for some reason: that's Lennon-ish.

 

After first listen: Norwegian Wood had an expanding, attenuating ripple of its own genre, this is somewhere in the reflection space.

 

Second listen: Feels like the handclaps would have eventually been arranged out or to the side, a sketch placeholder for something else.

 

Third listen: read along with the printed lyrics. Noticing "Good!" am reminded of Ben Folds one-word "hook" "Kate!" - pretty tight right there, nice tight corner around that lyric and changes.

 

All listens: mostly am feeling the half spoken-word minor 3rd toggling vocal melody - a deliberately paced catharsis.

Aug 10, 2018

Re: Trans-Island Skyway, perhaps the Prince leanings are down to falsetto vocals combined with Walter's master class in funk bass throughout? As for this one, I don't hear Prince. But I do hear a kind of 80s pop two chord shuffle kind of thing going on, and light (for Walter) lyrics that don't seem to cover some deeper under-the-surface story. One question that I ask myself as I listened to this was "I wonder what Walter thought of the pop music around him?" Like what were his non-musician friends and family listening to, and how might he have reacted? Like if you're Walter Becker and Vanilla Ice comes on the radio over and over again and your next door neighbor is blasting that shit while he's grilling bratwurst or whatever, or your kids are playing whatever kids are playing at any given point...how does all of that sift through your own musical sensibilities and skillset and...what did D-Mod call it...context thesaurus? Like, I don't think this is the band he's comping here, but for example, what if Walter's girlfriend in 1977 was super into Fleetwood Mac? How would Walter have received that music and processed it? What if he's loved it and wanted to explore writing that kind fo song? What if he'd hated it and wanted to mock it or show how simple it was, in context with his own stuff? Of course we can't know for sure now, but it is an interesting exercise to consider all the possibilities. And it is telling that perhaps even in deliberately emulating or interfacing with other artists work, Walter never really loses the core genius that makes him so damn special.

Aug 11, 2018Edited: Aug 11, 2018

I get an association with Frankie from Sister Sledge. It has the same vibe and rythm.

 

Aug 15, 2018

I think it may be Prince. I'm hearing 'Let's Go Crazy', maybe 'Delirious'..

Sep 8, 2018

Personally I'm astounded that no one has reacted publicly to the specter of Walter Becker...skipping

 

Sep 10, 2018

D,it's a thing of pure joy

Thank you for this wonderful site.

Jun 2

I've listened to this a few times now but like the above comments nothing really hits me as regards who Walter might be imitating? I've been thinking of bands as well as artists from that period who were big, Dire Straits, Crowded House, Hall & Oates.......I'll keep thinking..

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  • (Surprise Piano Version) This extremely early rundown of Book of Liars by The 11TOW band [Adam Rogers (Guitar): Fima Ephron (Bass): Ben Perowsky (Drums): John Beasley (Keyboards): Dean Parks (Guitar)] is interesting on several counts, not the least of which is the peek it affords into the studio process . Walter enjoyed almost everything the band played as it emerged from their interaction, rather then from any strong a priori “instruction” he offered. The rule seemed to be: Let’s just play it. See what we see. It’s interesting, for example, to hear one of the first rundowns of this tune took on a sort of calypso vibe. Yet all the tracks invariably developed, changed —through a combination of the creativity and explorations of the musicians playing together, and the small, subtle shaping that Walter would occasionally offer. It’s probably too obvious to observe that the feel of the final versions as we all know them from Whack and Alive in America traveled quite a distance from this earliest rundown. The 11TOW recorded version of this song has also long inspired speculation a’plenty about that rather unique keyboard solo. Here, on one of the earliest rundowns — and with only the above musicians in the room — we hear what might be its etiology. The quasi-comic conducting Walter would often exercise is in evidence here — “big piano passage”….then “Piano solo. Surprise piano solo!” (sandwiching an expression of juvenile gun-lust). A playful response follows, and that we hear a “yeah” during the staccato playing leads one to suspect the die on this one was cast early on; there was just something about that general vibe of this early keyboard part that he wanted preserved in the recorded version. We'll leave it to the listener to hypothesize who did or did not play the recorded solo or, at the very least, from whence its inspiration sprang. We see it springing right here. Then there’s “Fima’s got it” as a few players seem to momentarily lose their bearings in the unfamiliar chart….and of course the wonderful end-talk about different ideas for “the bridgy kinda thing”….and, well, from 5:14 out…that’s our Walter all over, isn’t it? Hope you enjoy. D-Mod P.S. Speaking of Book of Liars: Don Breithaupt's band Monkey House released a new album TODAY with their own cover of Becker's Book of Liars! You may know Don from previous Monkey House albums or from his insightful look at Steely Dan's Aja album for the 33-1/3 series. "As a lifelong Steely Dan fan, Walter's death hit me hard," said Don. "I thought it'd be a nice gesture to do one of his." The new album, " Friday ," also features the talents of Steely Dan musicians Michael Leonhart and Drew Zingg. It's a damn fine album, and it looks like listeners agree—" Friday " is currently sitting at the #1 spot on iTunes' Jazz charts. Congrats to Don and Monkey House! - Matt
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