Thursday, October 14, 2010

Guided Tour of Backspacer: Got Some

by stip

Got Some

Got Some picks up right where Gonna See My Friend leaves off. When Eddie sings that he’s ‘got some’, he’s referring to the charged sense of purpose and electrifying sense of personal satisfaction discovered at the start of the record. Got Some tries to make public what was, for all its energy and intensity, the private moment documented in GSMF. It’s pretty successful overall, but it’s not perfect.

Musically they nail it. The song rockets out the gate with a sense of frenzied commitment that matches GSMF, and is fitting for the pleading urgency of the song (they cut it off suddenly, but this makes sense given what the song is trying to do). The brassy sound of the guitars give the start of the song an aura of self-importance, and the way the music rises and falls between its puzzled verses (reflecting the confused and lost state of the person the song is being sung to) and the urgent declarations to lean on the singer, to find within him the strength to carry on, is pretty masterfully done (with quick, well done transitions between the two that reflect the emotional journey in the song). Other than the initial start there is an understated quality to Got Some that is designed to both create a kind of interpersonal intimacy that is unusual for a song like this, and of course to build up to and highlight the explosive climax (starting with the foreboding bridge and moving into the extra energy during the final verses and climax, and the terrific outro. My only issue with the music is that given how the song holds itself back for so long its final thoughts deserve to be longer—another 20 seconds of music after Eddie’s final Let’s Go would have been perfect.

Had Eddie been a bit stronger here vocally the ending might not have felt like such a tease, but after the fire and fury of GSMF he sounds flat here, almost weak. I think he’s going for weathered survivor, but it’s a little too weak to work here (it’s more effective in Force of Nature). Maybe he has trouble mixing that approach with the fact that he’s essentially begging here, but regardless I was hoping for something that hit harder. In a lot of Ways Got Some is a sister song to Save You, and it has some of the same vocal problems. In Save You Eddie sounds weary—like he’s had this conversation a million times before and can barely be troubled to have it again (one of the things that makes that song interesting is the tension between the understated vocals and the more aggressive music). He doesn’t sound weary in Got Some, but he does sound thin—exhausted even. It’s possible, even probable that this was a deliberate choice (I’d assume it was given the energy in the 3 songs that surround it)—as if his commitment is measured in how much of himself he’s given (the return of the martyr Eddie of Given To Fly). Given the pleading tone of the song this choice is understandable. The singer in Save You spends much of the song singing to himself, steeling himself for what is likely to be yet another fruitless confrontation. The singer in Got Some is clearly addressing the song to someone else—they’re there in the room with him, and he’s gripping them by the arm begging them to be strong, and to find that strength from within him if need be. The subtle backing vocal harmonies nicely color in the sense that there’s someone there, someone listening, and that they’re in this together.

But while this approach makes sense artistically it’s also somewhat underwhelming. Save you has the same problem. Though the vocal choices are what the song may need they’re just not as much fun to listen to. Had he really gone for broke vocally during the final moments of Got Some (as he does at the end of Save You ) it would have been worth it—the restraint pays off with the release of the bottle up intensity—but that doesn’t really happen here. At least not as much as I’d prefer. When Eddie screams ‘Please let me help you help yourself!’ through gritted teeth you celebrate him finally breaking through his own reluctance. The ‘carry on, lets go!’ at the end of Got Some just doesn’t hit as hard, especially coming on the heels of GSMF.

If Got Some was more interesting lyrically this might not be a problem, but the lyrics to Got Some are probably the weakest Eddie’s ever written (and a noticeable step down on an album that is otherwise pretty solid in that department). Part of the lyrical simplicity is to keep drawing attention to the offer and promise ‘got some if you need it’ but the stuff that surrounds it is just not that interesting. I could probably try and dig some deeper analysis out of the ‘precipitation verses, but it’s hardly worth it. Fortunately this isn’t a song that pauses long enough for the lyrics to ever really matter. Some songs need to be well written and this is not one of them, but it’s still a little disappointing, especially since Eddie’s performance could use the boost that a well crafted line provides.

Having said that, Got Some is still an effective song—my criticism is that while Got Some is a good song, it could have and should have been a great song. The music is strong the message is clear, and this forms an important part of the initial trilogy of songs that define the mood and tone of the record—finding peace and satisfaction within yourself and turning it outwards—using it as fuel for a fire rather than a blanket against the cold.

Other songs in this series:
Overview/Gonna See My Friend
Got Some
The Fixer
Johnny Guitar
Just Breathe
Amongst The Waves
Unthought Known
Speed of Sound
Force of Nature
The End

Other Guided Tour Series: