Tuesday, March 15, 2005

"Hook" by Blues Traveler

In the footsteps of such historic greats as Green Day, Vitamin C, and numerous other groups, Blues Traveler is ripping off the simple circle of fifths progression from Pachabel's Canon. However they are disguising it a little bit, since we're not in D but down a fifth, in A major. This entire song (verse, bridge and chorus) all center around this one progression: I-V-vi-iii-IV-I-IV-V. There is some ellision, as the final Half Cadence of the progression resolves right to the I at the start of the next repeate, adding a feeling of constantly moving forward. Like most of the songs I've blogged about, the bass line is the driving force, playing the root of each chord in each measure, as the guitar adding ornaments (especially a nice little turn on the vi to iii progression: la-la-do-la-sol-la-re-so, which really stands out as unexpectedly catchy). The vocals for this song are perfect for the bluesy/gutsy style. I love John Popper's high and bright tone and raw emotion he puts into each word. His small changes he puts in every phrase, with a quick trill, or an unexpected suspension adds a unique flavor to a piece with a very familiar progression. A lot of lines are delivered in a half sing/speak style and longer notes really bring the sound forward. Then after our second verse we have a brilliant harmonica solo, every note, slide, trill and run fitting perfectly, much like the violin run in the original piece. When we return we have a verse/bridge section that is one of the fastest vocal passages you will every hear. Every note is sung with a staccato like gunfire, matching the agility of the harmonica solo, surprisingly every word is crisp and understandable. The chorus returns at this point, and the vocals switch up the pattern, with varying rhythms to build and release tension. I like how Blues Traveler didn't get caught into a rut by the constantly repeating pattern, making everything crisp and new by adding a lot of small changes to make every verse and chorus a little different than the preceding one.

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