Fragment of old brocade by Arthur Wesley Dow, 1901
So apparently a lot of people find this blog by looking for information about the "Be My Baby" drum intro, which I wrote about in February. I don't usually keep track of this site's traffic, so I was informed of this by a disinterested third party (hi Faith!) I went back and read the original entry, and I was a little disappointed in some of the things I said. "I've come to the conclusion that the [Ronettes] made one great contribution to the pop music canon..." What was I thinking when I wrote that? I don't even believe that's true, for one thing. "You Came, You Saw You Conquered", "(The Best Part of) Breakin' Up", and "Walking in the Rain" all count as great contributions, not to mention the great songs the Ronettes did on the famous Phil Spector Christmas album.
After rereading what i wrote about the Ronettes, the "Be My Baby" drum intro haunted me for days. I was hearing it in places I'd never heard it before, in everything from songs written shortly after "Be My Baby" was a hit (like "What You're Doing" from Beatles for Sale) to records that came out in the last few months (like "Tension" from the Vivian Girls' Everything Goes Wrong). So, as penance, I think I'm going to periodically post some of my favorite "Be My Baby" drum intros until I can put this behind me. Luckily for me, there are plenty of songs to choose from.
For me, a possible winner in the "Most Evocative of the Original" is "Vox Humana" by Deerhunter. From the Weird Era Cont. bonus disc that came with Deerhunter's last album, "Vox Humana" is a traditional-sounding pop song with an odd rambling spoken-word vocal over the top. Bradford Cox captures a very Spector-ish vibe in the layering of the keyboards, guitars, and heavily reverbed vocals, and the opening lyric, "I haunted a basket-maker's shop," is delivered with a cool detachment that evokes early girl-group hits.
The winner for "Most Obscure and Unexpected" is the use of the drum intro in Guided By Voices' "Ha Ha Man". First, it strikes me as a little out-of-character for Robert Pollard to quote something so recognizable so directly, although it works great for this little thirty-nine second song sketch. Second, in a more characteristic move, "Ha Ha Man" was only released on Tonics and Twisted Chasers, a limited-edition fanclub-only vinyl LP from 1996.
The winner of the "Most Redundant" award goes to the Jesus and Mary Chain. I mentioned in my original post that people my age associate the resurrection of the "Be My Baby" drum intro with the JAMC's "Just Like Honey", but it is rarely mentioned that that song is only one of FOUR songs on the Psychocandy album that use that exact drum intro, the others being "Cut Dead", "Something's Wrong", and my favorite, "Sowing Seeds". It says a lot about the JAMC's mission statement that they would shamelessly recycle the intro like that on their debut album.
"Vox Humana" by Deerhunter
"Ha Ha Man" by Guided By Voices
"Sowing Seeds" by the Jesus and Mary Chain