Sunday, January 27, 2008

On becoming a musical anachronism

If you don't play a musical instrument, please feel free to skip to the next blog entry.

I love all sorts of music: jazz, R&B, indie alternative rock, you name it. And there is one common denominator to lots of my favorites: the minor-seventh chord. So many great songs that get my motor started have minor-seventh chord sequences - if you aren't musically inclined, here is a taste of what I am talking about:

-Smile by Lily Allen
-Pacific Coast Party by Smashmouth
-You're Still a Young Man by Tower of Power
-Sitting in the Park by Billy Stewart
-Crystal Blue Persuasion by Tommy James and the Shondells

So here's the problem: it seems that the minor-seventh chord has slowly disappeared off the face of the earth. Once in a great while it shows up in a new song (like the aforementioned "Smile" from 2006), and then when I look it up on the web they talk about how "retro" it is. When "Pacific Coast Party" came out, which I thought was one of the greatest songs on the face of the earth, one review said that it "sounded like every cop show theme from the 1970s."

Perhaps the last straw came in an interview last week from Joss Stone, the British songstress whose triple-platinum album The Soul Sessions gave me hope for the future - especially songs like "Super Duper Love", a gorgeous minor-seventh fest of old-school soul. Turns out she hated that album, complaining nowadays that the songs were written and produced "by guys 50 and up."

(Sigh) You got me there, Joss: I am 53. But first, do me a favor: go listen to a song like "Then You Can Tell Me Goodbye" by the Casinos. *That's* retro, OK? So stop picking on my minor-sevenths.

If I ever do an album, it's going to be entitled "Minor Seventh". And the way things are going these days, it's probably going to sell three copies.

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