May 252021

Greetings, fellow Rock Town Hall loiterers! I come before you today with a simple thought experiment — something to get you scratching your chin for a moment or two, to distract you from the cares of the day. So wedge your monocle firmly into your eye socket, pour yourself a dry martini, lean back, and let’s begin.

Here’s what I have in mind: there are songs that common wisdom might lead one to believe are essentially flawless. When was the last time, for example, that you heard anybody trash-talking “She Said, She Said” or “Superstition” or “All Down the Line”? I submit, however, that perfection does not exist, and that whatever track we submit to the RTH hive mind, at least one of us can find something wrong with it. And that’s what I want us to do. Think of this exercise as our beloved “If You Can’t Say Anything Nice About…” series, but backwards.

We’re going to do this like a game of tag. I’ll start by saying:

Well, I may be nitpicking, but I just can’t stand the way Hendrix sings “two riders were approaching… and the wind begin to howl” in his version of “All Along the Watchtower.” Would it be too much to ask Jimi to sing “begins,” or “began”? It drives me crazy! Now, “Waterloo Sunset” — now that’s a perfect song!

… and whoever jumps in next shares at least one reason why “Waterloo Sunset” is not at all perfect, starting with the words “Well, I may be nitpicking, but…”, and finishing off their comment with a nod toward the song they believe is without flaw.

Make sense? Then why not join in the fun by nitpicking “Waterloo Sunset”?  Come on — show us just how petty you can be!

I look forward to your responses.



  18 Responses to “Nitpicking”

  1. Waterloo Sunset: ” But I don’t need no friends” is incorrect grammar.

    (quick side note that I think I’ve raised before; Mrs Chicken seethes each time we hear in All Day and All of the Night. “The only time I feel alright is by your side”. By your side is a PLACE, not a time. It should be the only place I feel alright…)

    Try to nitpick Day Tripper. That song pushes every rock button I have.

  2. Funny, I always heard it as “the wind began to howl.” Well, thanks for ruining that for me.

    As for Waterloo Sunset, it’s a great song and a great recording so I hate to nitpick, but… There is something often annoying about Dave Davies background vocals and it shows up here. It sounds to me like there are not a lot harmonies. Rather, the background vocals are just an octave higher. This is not the only Kinks song where this happens and I’ve always assumed that they are hoping to capture some of the Beach Boys-style harmonies but lack the skills to pull it off. But who knows, maybe it’s a deliberate choice. In any event, it sounds amateurish and occasionally shill to my ears.

    Now “What’s Going On” by Marvin Gaye? That is a flawless song with impeccable production. Listen to it through headphones and I defy you to find a nit, however small, to pick.

  3. Chickenfrank appears to have beaten me to the punch, so I yield the floor to him.

  4. hrrundivbakshi

    Chickenfrank, I may be nitpicking, but… that line, “It took me soooo long to find out… but I found out” always makes me think “find out what?” That she’s a day tripper? Which means what? That she likes one-night stands? Why does that make her a big teaser who only took John half the way there? No, as much as I love that song, I think the lyric is a bit of a let-down, because it makes so much of the notion of being a day tripper, but never really explains what that means. Or, maybe better put, the song provides too many possible explanations of day tripper-ness. Put it this way: if you and your wife were talking about a girl you know, discussing her love life, and your wife said, “well, she’s a day tripper, you know” — would you understand what she meant?

    I’m going to back up cdm here and finish by saying: now, “What’s Going On” by Marvin Gaye — *that’s* a perfect song!

  5. That’s fair, and you are correct that I don’t really know what it means. I can recall first becoming aware of the song when I was young and just rocking out to the captivating guitar riff, the coolness of the bass doubling it, the excellent loud tambourine, and then the simple but perfect drum fill to get into the beat, and then the perfect harmonies.

    I knew the lyrics were over the head of little me, but held some mystery that would only one day be revealed when I hit adulthood. They still haven’t been revealed! That still fascinates me! What is wrong with the woman?? Why and how did she let down John?? I love that about Costello lyrics too. I don’t get em literally, but I completely get the emotion.

    What’s Going On – What? All you people can’t keep your mouths shut for just four minutes while Marvin is trying to sing his song. Rude.

  6. I promise to pick up with this thread when time allows, but first…Come on, HVB, quibbling over a dropped s in Jimi’s “All Along the Watchtower” reeks of white privilege, or however one might be taken to task for taking umbrage with this common African-American (and blues/country) vernacular. Not everyone can sing as clearly as Jellyfish.

  7. Since chickenfrank forgot to leave a new song, I’ll pick up with “What’s Going On.”

    Well, I may be nitpicking, but once the song “What’s Going On” has been repurposed 4 times over to fill space on a whole album it loses a bit of its luster.

    Now, The Rolling Stones’ “Satisfaction” is a perfect song!

  8. BigSteve

    What’s Goin On has too much reverb. On the recent anniversary I had occasion to listen to two single mixes that were included on the expanded edition, and they were much superior to the album version, which seems like it’s become canonical.

  9. Happiness Stan

    Frank nails What’s Going On. It’s not as ingrained in the musical psyche here as it is there.

    I’ve probably only heard it half a dozen times, if that, so I listened to it last night before going to bed to see if I could remember why I never bought a copy and played it half to death. It’s got a good vibe and a great vocal performance, but, oh my goodness, all that chattering and clattering behind wears thin quickly.

    “Don’t need no friends” may be grammatically incorrect, but is pretty standard Estuary/London dialect, and fits for someone living or working on or around the Thames and Waterloo station. I could point to the moment in practically any other Kinks song where it falls short of perfection, but can’t fault this one.

    Day Tripper is just a riff. It’s a great riff, admittedly, but, once more, I’m with Frank. When I was ten it sounded deeper than it is. And, now I’m old enough to know better, it really isn’t. It’s placeholder lyrics over a backing track which outstays its welcome by at least a minute. Like Yesterday would have been if Macca had insisted on recording it as Ham and Eggs. Plus, the beep beep yeahs are really annoying.

    Okay, I’ll bite with (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction, one of the first Stones records I grew tired of. I’ve deliberately included the full title in parentheses to highlight the Estuary no/any dichotomy.

    Are we to give Jagger a free pass for letting his Dartford roots show yet pull up Ray Davies for a single transgression?

    Certainly not, your honour.

    A crime, in my opinion, made more pronounced and heinous through our Mick’s insistence on singing the whole song (and every other) in an accent based loosely upon one originating thousands of miles from the school which failed to teach him and, as an aside, my own Mrs H, proper.

    And, while on the subject of ownership of women, what the hell are we to do with “Ah can’t get no girl reaction”, a line equates personal interactions with just over half the human race to dropping a lump of magnesium into a glass of water and saying “ooh”, or turning the ignition in a car?

    Another thing, it’s just a riff. It’s a great riff, at least as good as Day Tripper, spoiled in both instances by the misogynistic BS being spouted on top. At least the latter wasn’t based quite so obviously on Mannish Boy played backwards with a guitar sound ripped off Dave Davies.

    You want perfect? Mama Weer All Crazee Now by Slade. I defy anyone to find anything wrong with that.

  10. I agree that the Satisfaction and Daytripper both suffer from vaguely misogynistic lyrics.

    Confession time: I meant to offer Let’s Get It On, not What’s Going On. I love What’s Going On but I consider Let’s Get It On to be the Best Produced/Recorded Song Ever. Just perfect.

    I think I’ve only heard Quiet Riot’s version of that Slade song so I will check it out today and report back.

  11. I’ve certainly been participating in this thread in the spirit of the post. That is; not seriously at all. Just nitpicking. I loves me some bad rock grammar. I wouldn’t seriously complain about any of these songs. I do prefer Mercy Mercy Me to What’s Going On though.

    I’m a little surprised that one would consider Satisfaction to be misogynistic. It would seem to only come down to the use of the one word, “make” and the “girl reaction” line just seems to imply that girls ignore him. I interpret that as a knock on him, not on them.

  12. For me, it’s more the third verse about how annoyed he is because he’s trying to bang some random woman but she has her period. How DARE she?

  13. hrrundivbakshi

    Yeah, I’m going to ‘fess up and admit that the nit I picked for “…Watchtower” was a bit silly. As I pondered songs I reckoned were “perfect,” “…Watchtower” came up, and I had to work really hard to find anything wrong with it. The truth is, I actually can’t think of a single thing I’d change about it.

  14. Happiness Stan

    Mine was intended to be not altogether serious as well… If the Slade song didn’t cut through over there, how about Pleasant Valley Sunday?

  15. OK. Glad to read we are all playing in the same sandbox. I’ll admit I don’t know the Slade song well enough to pick on it seriously or jokingly. P.V.S. is friggin perfect! Maybe the only thing to attack is that The Monkees are liars in their video of it?

    I bet I can get some pushback on this one: my favorite Pink Floyd song is Wish You Were Here. Perfect combo of songwriting and execution. Sad and beautiful.

  16. hrrundivbakshi

    Wait. “We’re just two lost souls swimming in a fish bowl, year after year” is perfect? You lost me there.

  17. Ha! I knew this one wouldn’t skate by so easily. I love that line.

  18. Who woulda thunk chickenfrank dug “Wish You Were Here”???

    Well, I may be nitpicking, but as much as I like an occasional spin of “Wish You Were Here,” am I the only person who feels like they were afraid of the simple beauty they’d hit on and then bailed with the slightly gimmicky fade?

    Speaking of simple beauty, how perfect is Little Fear’s second take on “Willin'”? Perfection, and I don’t even like that band!

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