Hey, hey! Wednesday’s here! And that means that it’s time to review the wimpiest music on the planet! We do it every week here on Adventures Through The Mines Of Mellow Gold! I can’t stop talking like a ’70s jockey!
Climax Blues Band – Couldn’t Get It Right (download)
I know, I know: didn’t we just talk about these guys? We sure did, just a month ago. Why cover them again? Well, one answer would be that we need to recognize – and dare I say, worship – those bands that are capable of striking (mellow) gold twice. Another, more accurate answer would be that “Couldn’t Get It Right” is going to be part of an upcoming Chart Attack!, and my twitchy little brain goes nuts when I come across a chart featuring untapped mellow-y goodness. So, off we go.
Now, I’m sure you all have virtually memorized Mellow Gold #27, and therefore know the story of Climax Blues Band by heart. If not, have no fear. Here’s the Nine-Point-Recap!
1) Band formed in 1968.
2) Band had no hits that year.
3) Or the next.
4) Or the next.
5) Finally had a hit in 1977 with “Couldn’t Get It Right.”
6) Band had no hits the next year.
7) You get the picture.
8) Band has their next hit in 1981 with “I Love You.” Except for one member, entire band hated it. The guys refused to play on the recording, and never played it in concert.
9) Band changed members, still performs, and yet you continue not to care.
I know: if only I had offered this summary back in #27, you could have saved a good seven minutes! If you remember nothing else, just remember this: these guys eventually turned down “I Love You.”
So although I ooohed and aaahed over “I Love You,” that song only reached #12. I do think it’s the more mellow of the two, but “Couldn’t Get It Right” certainly qualifies as official Mellow Gold. After all, it has the characteristic…uh…the unmistakable…um…the inimitable….wait, what the hell was so interesting about these clowns, anyway? Well, courtesy of Songfacts, let’s let Derek “Yes, I wrote ‘I Love You,’ what’s your fucking problem?” Holt explain what made the band – and this single – so darn special.
Colin Cooper used to sing the lead – the low vocal, and I used to sing an octave higher. And then, because 4 of us sang in the band, we used to harmonize. The fact that we had the dual singing the same line but with an octave split made the sound very unique, and it’s still very unique today. Whenever people use it I think it’s great. That was one of our trademarks, we just used to sing together in unison.
Hey! What a coincidence – this was one of the trademarks of my high school band, too! I mean, it’s not that we couldn’t harmonize, we just, uh….didn’t want to! It’s called “dual singing,” you morons! Or have you not heard of “dual singing” where you live? That’s the problem with you people today – you have your fancy computers, and your “Internet,” and your Twitter, and you don’t take the time to learn about important rock techniques! YOU create something! Like dual singing! Always naysaying! You’re out of the band.
Where was I? Oh yes, dual singing. These guys thought dual singing was an actual technique, and remember: these guys eventually turned down “I Love You.” Dual singing gave this song a lot of its mellow groove, but to paraphrase that chick who sang with Don Henley, sometimes wusscle just ain’t enough. Not only that, there really aren’t any keyboards, and a whole lot of funky, crunchy guitar. What the hell’s going on here? This isn’t Mellow Gold!
But there’s something else. In fact, I think Holt meant to talk about it in his above paragraph. Here’s the quote he leaves out of this interview.
Also, as a group, we had a collective boner for the cowbell. Seriously, we would have had sex with it. We tried to have sex with it. What? The ladies weren’t around, okay? Don’t judge us. Few people know the truth: “I Love You” is actually sung to a cowbell.
I’m trying my best here not to make any “more cowbell” jokes. They were really funny in 2000, and have decreased in humor exponentially each time some douche exclaims “I got a fev-ah!” (Exception: unless it’s me or Mike. Then, it’s hysterical.) The truth is, though, that the famous Saturday Night Live sketch would have done just as well, if not better, if they had gone with “Couldn’t Get It Right” instead of “Don’t Fear The Reaper.” There’s cowbell on every beat of the song. Every. Single. Beat. And you know that shit wasn’t looped; some Climax Blues Bozo was prancing around the studio, hittin’ a stick against that cowbell like his life depended on it. I’m seeing Will Ferrell, aren’t you?
Let’s look at some of these lyrics. For starters, how do you get more Mellow Gold than a title like “Couldn’t Get It Right?” Jesus, that’s like the Mellow Gold Motto right there! The Boy Scouts had “Be Prepared,” the Wusses had “Couldn’t Get It Right.” Unfortunately, this song isn’t about what you think it’s about: it’s not about endless attempts to get a woman to appreciate your sensitivity and subsequent pathetic, whiny self-loathing. Again, Mr. “No! No! I am not going to defend ‘I Love You’ again!” Holt:
The song is about being on the road in America. “Looking for a sign in the middle of the night” being about the old Holiday Inn signs, really, because the moment you saw the Holiday Inn sign, that meant you got a bed for the night.
Their biggest hit is about a Holiday Inn, and remember: these guys eventually turned down “I Love You.”
Well, okay, maybe that’s just part of the song. How does it start?
Timeless drifting, this rock had got to roll
“This rock had got to roll?” You guys turned down “I Love You” but were okay with “this rock had got to roll?” What the fuck is wrong with you people? I understand that “Couldn’t Get It Right” was your biggest hit, climbing to #3, but were you really that far above the simple message of “I Love You?” If Climax Blues Band could defend themselves right now, I’d bet they’d do it with one guy talking in an octave above the other one. Idiots.
I realize that I’m coming off like a little bit of a hater of this song; it’s really not the case. I think the song is solid, with a great, funky groove, but I just find it a bit silly that the guys thought that it was so awesome that it was the new Climax Blues Band standard (and where was the blues, anyway?), and their other mellow hit just wasn’t meeting their expectations. Sorry, guys: when your most prevalent instrument is a cowbell and you’re talking about how happy you are to find a Holiday Inn in the middle of the night and you’re bringing in Robert John to sing octaves above your lead singer, you don’t have much of a leg to stand on.
Oh well. It is what it is, right? So maybe these guys hated the more mellow of their songs, but what they had forgotten was that with “Couldn’t Get It Right,” they were already members of the MG crew; perhaps they should have embraced it. Had they learned nothing from Ambrosia?
Enjoy your week, everybody, and see you next time on Adventures Through The Mines Of Mellow Gold!