Jun 292020

I don’t know how we measure this, so let’s trust our hearts. Years ago, after already putting in 10 years of loving The Kinks Are the Village Green Preservation Society album, my wife and I were driving somewhere as that album played and I had my finger on the SKIP button of our old car’s CD player as “Big Sky” began to play. “Big Sky” was not a surefire needle-lifter for me, but beside Lou Reed’s music and some Bob Dylan songs that may qualify, I’m not a big fan of talk-singing. I felt there was something hokey about “Big Sky” to make me want to listen to it every time I listened to that album. And I listened to that album frequently.

DON’T TOUCH THAT DIAL, my wife essentially said to me. She explained, “The song captures how I feel about nature, and the break is the most beautiful thing!”

She had a point there: the break is the most beautiful thing. “When I feel/That the world’s too much for me…” Beautiful!

I no longer skip “Big Sky,” not even occasionally, and for this city boy, it’s 100% for the love of the middle eight, not nature. Sorry. To be less of a natural, take-it-as-it-comes person, every time I hear that song I ask myself, Is there any middle eight that dominates relative to the song into which it’s set, that is so far greater than the rest of the song, than this one?

I think not.

You may have your own relatively most-dominant middle eight to suggest. REMEMBER: This is different than simply your favorite middle eight. I’m looking for songs that you find possibly saved by the middle eight. You might say, “the break is worth the price of admission.” Let’s hear it!


  17 Responses to “Middle Eights That Dominate Relative to the Song Into Which They Are Set”

  1. In hopes of priming the pump, here’s another song that I find is 67% more worthwhile thanks to the break: The Beatles’ “Things We Said Today.” Before it switches to the major chords on the middle eight, it’s a pleasant enough song that might be one of the best things The Byrds ever did. Then the break kicks in that first time and…wowzers!

  2. I was ready to chime in too, but this middle eight doesn’t “dominate” like the others: We Can Work it Out by the Beatles. The main body is pleasant enough, and is actually enjoyable, but Lennon’s middle part is much more interesting.

  3. mockcarr

    I don’t really like McArthur’s Park, but I do enjoy the middle eight disco workout just because it makes think of SCTV’s Dave Thomas doing his Richard Harris.

  4. @Mockcarr – YES!

    Senses Working Overtime by XTC. It’s all cerebral and subdued on the verses, it opens up during the choruses, and then that middle eight runs free; drums are unshackled, singers doing that woo-awoo response line. Gets me pumped every time.

  5. I am in full agreement with your reasoning mockcarr!

    @chickenfrank, that is a KILLER break. FUN FACT: Even EPG likes “Senses Working Overtime.” But not the equally legendary 2000 Man. Oh well, he’s still A-1 Steak Sauce in my book.

  6. I’m glad EPG will admit to the worth of “Senses Working Overtime.” While that break may be the high point of the tune, it is totally set up by what comes before, more a confirmation than a repudiation. Also the last chorus then continues with another uptick. I love sound and playing on English Settlement, but a look at the track list makes me think that SWO might dominate that album.

  7. mockcarr

    I think My Sharona from the Knack is pretty stupid until the instrumental break halfway in that just kicks ass. I would say I only listen to the song for that middle 8 which may be 8 middle eights!

  8. 2000 Man

    My Sharona is supposed to be stupid. That’s what makes it so great. Louie, Louie was the utterly stupid, glorious Rock ‘N Roll song for the early 60’s drinking kids. My Sharona was the utterly stupid, glorious Rock ‘N Roll song for the late 70’s bong ripping kids. It’s just so great.

    I’m not a musician so I don’t know exactly what a middle 8 is, but I think I have an idea. I think I’ll pick Rocks Off by The Stones. It’s pretty great until it gets to the slow. dreamy part which is pretty cool. It’s when they come out of that when it really gets going. When Jagger sings “The sunshine bores the daylights out of me,” and the band kicks back in full force. That’s the good stuff, there.

  9. When I think of someone yelling “Bridge!” in a crowded theater, my thoughts naturally go to James Brown. Probably my favorite song of his is “Superbad” the edited single version. Admittedly, like “Senses…” this song has no particular weakness in its non-bridge sections, they are perfectly great, snappy drums, nice Bootsy Collins bass and cool dynamics that highlight the machine gun choppy guitar. Typically excellent late prime period JB funk. But when it hits the bridge and opens up with that fast ride on the bell of the cymbal and the rolling bass line underneath, I’m totally hooked. It builds slowly to the horn hits and then drops back to the tickety-tick rhythm. I can’t say that I’ve ever heard JB use that rhythm on the cymbals.

  10. cherguevara

    Exit Music For A Film. The song just sits and bides its time, then the bridge comes, the drums kick in, the entire thing ramps up exponentially in a matter of seconds for heading for the over-the-top finish. Knowing what’s coming makes hearing the song an exercise in anticipation.

  11. I heard one of my all time favorite bridges on this morning’s WFMU Wake and Bake show. The verses and chorus of “Our Lips Are Sealed” are fine pop, but the bridge, “Hush my Darling…” is just perfect. Go-Go’s or Funboy Three, it’s great.

  12. Yes. That high bass line thing she does during the break is cool.

  13. BigSteve

    The Cream song Badge (which gets its name from a misreading of Bridge on the lyric sheet) really opens up in that middle section that goes “Yes, I told you that the light goes up and down,” going into the guitar solo afterwards. It’s more than eight bars, but so are some of the ‘middle eights’ mentioned so far.

  14. Strong entry, BigSteve!

  15. That Cream bridge really dominated the song since the song title “Badge” was a misreading of the label “Bridge” that Harrison had put on the chords he had written for that section.

  16. The Hollies – “Carrie Anne” has to be a top-10

    XTC has a bunch of them – Mayor of Simpleton is another great one.

    The Jam has many too – from the first album “Got by in Time” also “Going underground”

  17. XTC has a bunch of them – Mayor of Simpleton is another great one.

    The Jam has many too – from the first album “Got by in Time” also “Going underground”

    The Hollies – “Carrie Anne” has to be a top-10

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