Guest post by Lucy Carter.
Tom Petty songs are made for road trips. More specifically they’re written in a way that work perfectly in American movie road trip montages. You know the ones, where groups of impossibly good looking people happily sing along as the camera pans to each of their sun-kissed faces and then down to the hair-care item they’re ironically using as a microphone.
There’s usually a lens-flare involved, someone in the back seat ‘playfully’ throws a cheese-coated snack at someone in the front seat and then the scene ends with a character looking dreamily out at a random barn or windmill situated on some windswept mid-western plain. The sky will be blue, the road will be straight and it goes without saying that they are the only car on the whole damn highway [*].
In terms of subject matter, a good number of Petty songs are about a down-and-out girl/boy who is on their last dance/chance/pants [**] and who finds themselves in love/jail. It’s a musical tradition also milked by Journey, Paul Young and Australia’s own Rick Springfield to name a few.
Now folk-popsters Noah and the Whale have cracked out ‘L.I.F.E.G.O.E.S.O.N’ a song that sounds like the soundtrack to every American road trip movie ever, despite the band being from Twickenham in London.
It’s a song that incorporates a few other musical clichés too. Spelling things out for people to sing along to is generally a winner (‘Lola’ – The Kinks, ‘RESPECT’ – Aretha Franklin etc.) The vocal delivery and chord progression also make ‘L.I.F.E.G.O.E.S.O.N’ sound a lot like Lou Reed’s ‘Walk on the Wild Side.’ It’s got those epic sounding slow-rolling drums and a nice bit where the percussion backs off entirely to really let the ‘group sing-along vocals shine.
Put simply what Noah and the Whale have done is create a song that sounds like a distant memory. The combination of all these familiar and iconic musical elements means that the first time you hear it there’s a sense of déjà-vu – and it totally works. The first time I heard this I was convinced it was a cover. I spent about 15 minutes trying to work out who did the original. I then spent the next ten minutes trying to sing along to the chorus without getting the ‘E’ and the ‘O’ in the wrong order.
It’s feel good, it’s catchy and it has a killer bridge. Sadly the lyrical allusion to fellatio will probably exclude it from being sung at high-school graduation ceremonies, but this song will be in a movie trailer before the year is out, take my word for it. And hey, if nothing else, it will at least improve the spelling skills of indie kids.
Noah And The Whale – ‘L.I.F.E.G.O.E.S.O.N’
* I would like to point out that these scenes in movies make road trips look a lot more fun than they usually are, in the same way that 500 Days of Summer made going to IKEA look awesome, and not like the excruciating modern suburban hell it actually is.
** To the best of my knowledge, Tom Petty never actually wrote a song about someone losing their pants. I wish he had though.
Lucy Carter reads the news on Triple J in the sexiest voice you’ve ever heard, ever. She is also the best pun-maker on Earth. Follow her amazingly up-to-date tweets here.
More Bible-inspired oceanic tomfoolery here.