Wednesday, February 24, 2010

SONG #83: Get Off My Cloud


Will's pick #4.  It has taken him a while to wrap his brain around the concept of this song.   He keeps wanting it to be "Get Off My Clown."  That has led to several versions of the following conversation.

Will:  It's not 'Get Off My Clown'?

Me:  Nope. 'Get Off My Cloud.'

Will: But that makes no sense.

Me: How does 'Get Off My Clown' make sense?

Will: Because someone might be attacking your clowns.

Me:  You have clowns?

Will: Sure.

Me:  Do you run a circus or something?

Will: (Pause) Maybe you just have some clowns.

Me:  Hmm.

Will: (Pause)  How do you get on a cloud?

Me:  Well, it's a metaphor.  He's feeling good, like he's up on a cloud, and he doesn't want anyone to make him feel bad and bring him down off of it.

Will: It feels good to be on a cloud?

Me:  Well, like I said, it's a metaphor for feeling good.

Will: (Pause)  Wouldn't you fall through the cloud?

Me:  Again, he's not actually ON a cloud.  He's imagining that being on one would feel good, like he's feeling.

Will:  Because a cloud is not solid, Dad.

Me:  You're right.  Very good.

Will: You can't be ON one.

Me:  Nope.  He's imagining it.  Like you were imagining your army of clowns being jumped on.

Will:  Oh. (Long pause, then mumbled to himself)  I wanna get on a could.

This song comes from my favorite of the Stones' early 60s albums, and easily their sloppiest.  Some of the tracks on this record are so poorly played and recorded that I can't believe they were released.  Check out the original version of "I'm Free" on here sometime-- Charlie Watts makes a drumming error so egregious and stop-a-truck terrible that you'll think your mp3 skipped.  It didn't.  And the whole album is like that-- it feels like it was recorded in exactly the time it takes to hear it.  That said, the songs are so good that it hardly matters.  The Stones made three full-length records in 1965, and all of them have great tracks, but December's Children has half a dozen classics, including this irrepressible song.  Pick a thing to lock into-- Mick's hilarious, "maybe I have lyrics, maybe I don't" vocal;  Watts' snare roll; Brian Jones' little single note guitar figure; Richards' Frankenstein-subtle rhythm part; Wyman's bubbling and unconventional bass line.  It's all appealing.  

Then start listening for the mistakes-- the moment near the end when half the band heads to another verse and half heads to a chorus, and they don't really figure it out for a while.  The moment when the guitar players think that everyone is going to do triplets, and they don't, and they're left hanging.  The moment in the second chorus when everyone gets excited and speeds up, realizes that they sped up, and slow way down.  You get the idea.  There's a bunch of them in here, and there's something so charming and exciting about those mistakes now, since no band ever puts out anything spontaneous anymore.  All records are now perfect in the Pro-Tools age, and you lose these great moments of being in the room with the band figuring out the song with them.  And the Stones don't really improve with each take, anyway-- they elevate sloppy to high art.

Now can someone tell me where I can get some freelance clowns?



  1. Can we please get more Will-Dad dialogue?!

  2. Hilarious. When you hear Will's reasoning it's actually substantially sounder than yours. At least you can actually climb onto a clown and then be asked to get off. Since clouds are not solid you couldn't even really get onto one. And who would want to be on top of a cloud when clowns are available to ride? I actually think "I'm in such a good mood it's like I'm riding on a clown" makes much more sense then "I'm riding on a cloud," since your good mood would be quickly doused on your cloud by your quick and inevitable fall to a gruesome death. Whereas riding on a clown would, assuming a competent clown, be a non-stop source of amusement.

    And naturally if someone attempted to horn in on (or climb onto) your clown you could see how important it would be to ask that person to leave as soon as possible, as clowns are a very finite resource and you might only have one who could be injured by carrying two people. Clouds, however, tend to be very large and easy to share, especially if as soon as you climb on you fall to your death. The more I think about it the more I agree with Will on this one.

    BTW, if Will's top five includes a Stones song and no Who songs I am going to have a nice chuckle at your expense. That said "Dogs (Part 2)" is definitely in Dahlia and Georgia's top 10 and there is no Stones to be found anywhere.