Friday, April 2, 2010

Hotel California

Serious case of writer's block as I sat down to write after learning my song of the day. I started half a dozen times, all different subjects, all ersatz and contrived, and finally told myself, try just telling the truth:

The Doubts are attacking tonight. Nothing you want to talk about is remotely interesting, they say. You should give up on this project, because you are an utter failure at it, just like you're an utter failure at giving up sugar for Lent. Also, you suck at relationships. If you were a normal human, you would have gone to your student's birthday party, and your piano tuner's gig, instead of coming home after work to learn songs and write about learning songs. You are a lame-ass party pooper.

Have I mentioned how much I hate the Doubts?

Well, anyway, I greatly appreciated the birthday party invitation, which came with a disclaimer that the other guests would be 19 and 20, like the birthday girl herself, and I had planned to drop by for a while, before meeting a friend or two at my piano tuner's gig. But after being knocked out sick for a couple days this week, 9:30 p.m. found me on my way home from work (today: teach at home, play for rehearsal in midtown, play for Good Friday service in the Bronx), just wanting to stay in with my beer, fried things, wifi connection, keyboard, and music books. So f*** off, Doubts, I have all the things I need, and you're not one of them.

Tonight: "Hotel California". I started a list of me-proclaimed uber-standards last night. I tried at first to think of songs that have been covered a lot. This song has been covered and parodied, so I think I'm in ok territory. I listened to a number of different recordings on (great internet radio resource), including a few different Eagles versions and the Gipsy Kings version that is in The Big Lebowski. Also heard a couple ska versions, which brought back memories of my college boyfriend, who listened to nothing but ska, despite the fact he was a euphonium major. (Side note: I have dated two euphonium players, which probably makes them a disproportionately large percentage of my boy history. But they were both great kissers. Trumpet players, not so much. Score for the low brass contingent.)

Where was I? Ah yes. "Hotel California" is a very wordy song, but at least the chord progression is easy and repetitive. Intro, 32-bar verse (that's a double scoop verse), 16-bar chorus, lather, rinse, repeat twice, famous guitar solo, etc. The verse progression is almost entirely down a 4th, up a 3rd - could be one giant succession of "Amen"s. The song is in B minor, but the chorus has a brush with the relative major - the first four bars of the chorus could be a hotel jingle: "Welcome to the hotel...". And is it just me, or do Eagles songs not usually have a bridge? This may bear further inspection. I got used to Pink's "verse-chorus x 2 then bridge and out" form. Lather, rinse. "Desperado" didn't have a bridge, if memory serves me correctly.

If I were really hardcore, and/or had a patron so I could devote all of my time to this, I would also transcribe the guitar solo from "Hotel California." I will go back to that another time. Tonight I contented myself with playing the song in a few different keys and styles (ska not among them, but quasi-tango, yes). Food for thought: as I learn pop/rock/r&b standards, what are the standards to which I hold myself?

1 comment:

  1. I can't speak on behalf of the Doubts, but I want to hear what you have to say. I am a lame-ass party pooper, though.