Sunday, March 05, 2006

"Out Of Touch" by Daryl Hall and John Oates

One of the biggest pop-rock songs of the 80's by one of the biggest pop-rock duos of the rock music... "Out Of Touch" by Hall & Oates. But what made this song such a phenomenal hit? It's comprised of simple lyrics, simple harmonies, and a simple chord progression. It's also surrounded by the staple instruments of the decade: synthesizers, Stratocaster clean guitars, synth.-effected electric bass, and electronic drumset. The song is also sung by one of the best vocalists in rock music, Daryl Hall. There's another studio trick that's performed as well, the chorus melody is being doubled by one of the keyboards on what sounds like either the music box or celesta setting.

The subject matter of the lyrics is the universal theme of love. So the question is raised again... what made this song so popular? There are two details that make this song hit-worthy. One is the arrangement which is comprised of several repetitive hooks (many of which are subconscious to the standard listener). The other is the creativity in the singing of Hall. Hall, who idolizes Philly Torch Soul music, added a new element to pop music. This was his soul inflection. The way he bends notes and improvises backing lines grabs the listener right from the start. Hall also performs an improvised outro at the end of the song (he does this on almost all of their hit singles).

This is actually one of my favorite songs by the duo, despite it's simplicity. I've found that sometimes the best pieces of music are the most simple. The creativity of a song can be found in arrangement, recording, and performance, not just chord progression. "Out Of Touch" is well-polished and well-orchestrated. Sometimes to grab an audience, that's all you need... of course you better have soul too.


Out Of Touch
By Daryl Hall & John Oates

Shake it up is all that we know
Using the bodies up as we go
Waking up to fantasy
The shates all around aren't the colors we used to see

Broken ice still melts in the sun
And times that are broken can often be one again
We're soul alone
And soul really matters to me
Take a look around

You're out of touch
I'm out of time
But I'm out of my head when you're not around
You're out of touch
I'm out of time
But I'm out of my head when you're not around

Reaching out for something to hold
Looking for a love where the climate is cold
Manic moves and drowsy dreams
Or living in the middle between the two extremes
Smoking guns hot to the touch
Would cool down if we didn't use them so much
We're soul alone
And soul really matters to me
Too much

You're out of touch
I'm out of time
But I'm out of my head when you're not around
You're out of touch
I'm out of time
But I'm out of my head when you're not around

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