For every girl's a man inside, a boy's a woman too... Welcome, friends, to another entry in the Songs for Odin "series," wherein, as a regular feature for Wodnesdæg a. k. a. óðinsdagr, I find a video iteration of a song done by me and/or my band and ramble on a bit about it. How come? Just because, which is usually the truest answer to that question. For today, we have something from our set at Hamburg's Stortebeker club in the Summer of '92, a cover of the Brady Bunch song "Time to Change." https://youtu.be/Oz82hgT-SyI Sort of. I mean, it's sort of a cover of it, but not... really. In fact it only vaguely resembles the song it purports to cover, which is a bit of a shame because it is a genuinely great song of which I am very fond and an actual, well-executed cover of it would have been terrific. I guess the generous way to describe this rendition would be as a "work in progress." It was casually "worked up" during a sound check or two on this tour, and I doubt it was ever played in a set outside of this one time. I loved and appreciated the song then no less then than I do now, but I didn't know it by heart, from memory. Nowadays a band on tour in Europe (if bands still do that) wanting to cover some song from 70s TV can simply grab a "smart phone," google the lyrics and "tabs", pull it up on YouTube, and listen to it in the van to figure out how it goes and such. But in Europe 1992... nevermind about smart phones, even the regular phones didn't work. (I still have my old "dialer" kicking around, a clunky appliance with a speaker and a keypad that you held up against the mouthpiece of a primitive European payphone so you could use touchtones with it... the idea was to over-ride the ancient Deutsche Bundespost technology, which was basically a couple of gerbils inside the phone casing: when you pressed the buttons, needles would stick into their bodies in such a way that their tiny paws would strike the proper number of pulses on a dedicated telecomtrommel or "phone drum." This dialer was an essential piece of tour equipment in those days. The Deutsche Bundespost gerbils were fairly good at their job, but they were simply rubbish at disclosing Brady Bunch song lyrics.) Even back home, figuring the song out would have required a bit of effort and research, scouring record stores for a copy of the single and waiting by the TV, finger poised above the VCR's record button hoping to catch just the moment when that particular episode would happen to play in syndication. Basically, it was far easier just to write your own songs, which is what I usually did. But I'm pretty sure my plan was to start out with the sketchy bare-bones version from memory, mumbling through with some pseudo-lyrics, and fill in the missing elements once we were back home and in a better position to do so. And I'm sure that, had we done that, it would have been pretty good, or at least no worse than other such songs like "Spiderman," "Somebody Wants to Love You," "Speed Racer," "Don't Go Away (Go Go Girl)" and so on. (I know I was also planning to alter the lyrics, once I knew them, with the gender-bending one used as the title -- ahead of my time, obviously, had anyone only but known it.) In the event, though, the band collapsed on touching down in SFO the following month, and when we re-emerged as a three-piece subsequently, our mind was on other things and the "Time to Change" work in progress was duly abandoned. In fact, the band was never to record another cover of a song from TV thereafter. Nevertheless, as I said, the song spoke to me. I mean, I took it kind of personally. In the 1972 Brady Bunch episode in which the song appears (titled Dough Re Mi), Greg has written a "sure-fire hit song" called "We Can Make the World a Whole Lot Brighter. He and his brothers and sisters (the Brady Six) are all set to record it at the local recording studio in a few days' time, when Pete's voice starts to break, ruining the carefully-constructed six part vocal arrangement, and rendering the song unusable. They'd already paid the studio 150 non-refundable dollars, so something had to be done. The solution is, Greg writes a new song, one that uses Peter's cracking voice as a feature rather than a liability and incorporates the challenge presented by it into the song's narrative and "message." It is in fact a way better song than that insipid, generic, cliché-ridden thing about saving the earth, because it is original and genuine. This is a sort of parable about making the most of the hand you're dealt and the song is a "work with what you've got" anthem. I've often said, of my own "career," that if you can figure out a way make the most of your liabilities, they can almost be assets. That's what this episode and song say to me. And that's why I always wanted to do it, even though in the end, I didn't really. Obviously it was all lost on the audience of German crusties, who wouldn't have known a Brady from an Osmond I'm sure. Still they seem to have liked it well enough. All that philosophical stuff aside, you just can't beat some good sha na nas, and maybe that's the most valuable lesson of all. See you next week. notes: -- "We Can Make the World a Whole Lot Brighter" and "Time to Change" on the show: https://youtu.be/UnHu_xR_vqM -- discogs: https://www.discogs.com/The-Brady-Bunch-Time-To-Change/release/10728338 -- imdb: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0531085/ -- Songs for Odin playlist: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLommF46BbnATopffORs0YkspebJHka2o_ #music #songs #video #punkrock #minds
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