Tuesday, 15 November 2016

The Eleven

"Nobody likes jazz that much... even the guy playing it had to take drugs!"

As you know, I love everything in the world, with the exception of three things. One of those things that I love is songs in 11/8 (or 11/4).

Where would we be without the number 11? Danny Ocean would be bereft of a crew. Spinal Tap's amps would have nowhere to go. [Insert football player - do not forget to come back to this] would have to run around with a different number on his football jersey. But most of all, we'd be without these 5 groovy songs written in the time signature 11/8 (or 11/4) just to be difficult.

Eleven Four - The Dave Brubeck Quartet (1962)

With the possible exception of Stephen Hawking, nobody knows time like Dave Brubeck. The cool-jazz pioneer seemed allergic to straightforward time signatures, resulting in classics like Take Five (which is a pun) and saxophonist Paul Desmond's Eleven Four (which is not).

Eleven - Primus (1991)

This typically disonant track by bass-driven avant-garde rock band Primus showcases Les Claypool's muscular bass riffs, Tim "Herb" Alexander's rolling drum beats and Larry LaLonde's screaming guitar work, with non-conformist lyrics and time signatures.

I Say a Little Prayer - Aretha Franklin (1968)

Although originally recorded by Dionne Warwick, it's Aretha Franklin's version that reigns supreme thanks to soulful vocals and melodic arrangements. The chorus uses an 11-count, proving that it's not just for pretentious jazz and druggy metal.

Whipping Post - The Allman Brothers Band (1971)

I think this blog is really about my music taste being all over the place. In any case, Gregg Allman's blistering Whipping Post riff is written in 11/4 and is well worth a listen if you have 23 minutes to spare. No? Fair enough.

The Eleven - Grateful Dead (1969)

Because I'm incapable of writing a blog or holding a conversation without mentioning the Grateful Dead, check out the scorching beauty of this psychedelic masterpiece and its trippy lyrics. I'm not entirely sure what a "jingle bell rainbow" is, but I'd very much like to find out. 

An honourable mention goes to Hey Ya! by OutKast (2003), for being (presumably) the only number 1 single with an 11-count. The Mario Kart 64 (1996) results screen music also demonstrates the versatility of my favourite time signature. 

A better blogger would have listed 11 examples. Or at least published this blog on the 8th November. Or even just explained what 11/8 actually means. But ironically, I don't have time.